I live in the rural north part of Western Australia. Four wheel drive country. This story takes place in wet season.
Anyone who has visited the outback or any rural towns in Australia will know what I’m talking about but for those of you who haven’t, the rural north parts have two seasons: Wet and Dry.
Dry: The air has a fine red dust in it and appears like you’re through rose-tinted glasses. The sun is for some reason larger, meaning it gets much hotter than other parts. The dirt is a crimson, similar to paprika and is very stunning, and the air is very still.
Wet: Storms smash the coastal towns and travels inland where they eventually die out in the desert. Roads become flooded spreading disease, power is lost and many depend on their Four Wheel Drives to evacuate the town in the refuge of a neighbouring town.
Luckily, our little town wasn’t suffering from any storms at the time this took place but it was still rainy weather.
I was out driving one night. Now due to the roads only being illuminated by my headlights, I had poor visibility of the road and drove carefully, as I always did.
I kept my eyes wide open while driving that night when I felt a bump, the type you get when you run something over. I stopped and pulled over.
I got out of my car to see what had happened. The rain started to ease by this point but the road looked like a calm lake.
Near the edge of the road, I saw a cat. It sat there on the side of the road. I realised that I must have hit the cat after a thud like that.
So I did the most humane thing I could think to do – put it out of its misery.
I retrieved a crowbar from the back seat of my car and approached the cat. The rain started to pick up so I swung my crowbar and fatally struck the cat.
He instantly died due to the blow and bled out but I hoped he was in a better place. He didn’t have a collar on nor anything identifying, so I placed him gently on the grass away from the road.
Due to being a rural town, it was an unwritten law to to place roadkill on the side and the councilmen would collect them on their next shift, which in a small town like ours, was usually the next day.
And for reference, this mainly applied to fauna and domestic cats due to their nature. Dogs were always registered and many owners kept their dogs locked up as to protect them from the roads.
I felt horrible but I took comfort in the fact that the cat wasn’t suffering in pain anymore.
As I got into my car, someone shouted out to me: Hey, everything alright? If a passer-by saw a car pulled over, they would normally offer help due to the harshness of the climate, especially in wet season.
I told them I was okay but that a cat jumped out in front of my car. I got back in my car after letting them know, assuming our brief conversation was over and thanked them for their concern, then drove off home.
I know it was part of what we do, but I swear the cat haunted me. I couldn’t sleep well as I pictured him a lot in my dreams.
A couple of days later when I caught a flight to Perth to see family, I was pulled over by airport security shortly after arriving through the terminal.
After coming my identify using my driver’s license, I was taken into a sterile room. It’s walls were white, it was small and there were no windows. There was literally a table and 3 chairs.
One for me and two for the security staff.
They started questioning me about the dead cat in my town a few days earlier. I was taken back as this wasn’t uncommon or anything like that, heck, I’ve accidentally hit animals a few times before and it had never been a problem before.
What I didn’t know though was how they knew about it. There was no one else around that night, no police, no authorities of any sort… UNLESS. That’s when I realised, the person who approached me that night might have had something to do with it.
Feeling uneasy, I proclaimed my innocence and explained that the cat had jumped out in front of my car on a rainy night. I also admitted to killing the cat as it was hurt.
I was greeted by silence. Neither officer said anything, but they looked at each other, then back at me.
One of them finally spoke: Sir, we know about that, but you also killed a second cat with a crowbar.
The cat’s owner came forward and reported your car to Police and you have been flagged nationally as it is an offence.
I was struck by shock. I had killed an innocent cat. That means, the cat I put out of its misery was a poor, innocent cat.
I was charged with a $1000 fine and cautioned.