The cat is sleeping sitting-up, or at least looks as if it is. But as I get closer, it opens both eyes and peers up at me. It is horrifically thin, its fur is a mess, there is dried blood caked in patches all over it. It stinks. It looks as if it has chosen this spot to just sit and die.
I have a box, because I came prepared. I put the box down next to the cat and the cat extends its legs. Like matchsticks. With a towel (told you I was prepared), I bend down and wrap it, picking it up to put it in the box. The cat is having none of this, and struggles.
“Mwrrrrrr,” it complains. “Mwrrrrrrahhooww.”
A fair point from a younger, healthier moggie. But you, little friend, are in a right state. You need to be back with your owner. Or seeing a vet.
Despite appearing to be half starved and in great pain, the cat leaps over the side of the box, catching its rear legs on the rim as it does so. It lands in an unglamorous heap and pulls itself upright again.
“No, no, stay in the box,” I say. “I’m just going to take you to the vet.”
“Mrrrrwwwrrrrr,” it replies, taking a few steps away before coming to a sudden halt and just – stopping. “Mrrw.”
I try again. Wrap with towel, lift, place in box. Cat puts its front paws on the edge of the box and looks out as I hurriedly lift the whole thing off the ground. Younger, healthier cats would not consider this any problem and leap out again anyway, but this time, this cat is more wary. I start walking back to the car, while cat admires the view.
“Rrrrwwwoowwwrr,” it remarks, as if this was its plan all along. I put the box on the passenger seat and get into the car. The cat immediately tries to climb out of the box. I don’t want stinky cat blood all over my car, so I try to wrap the towel around it again and push it back into the box.
“Stay in the box,” I say. “It’s not far to the vet.”
We weave erratically down the road to the surgery, just two minutes’ drive away. The cat spends the whole time trying to climb out of the box, and avoiding my arm as I push it back in. We do the entire trip in second gear.
The receptionists are very helpful and immediately scan the cat for a microchip, and to my great relief it has one. This cat has been on their books for some time. It’s a very old, longstanding client. They try calling its owner but there’s no answer, so they say they’ll hang on to it and keep trying, and thanks for bringing it in, and well done for doing my good deed for the day.
I bid the cat farewell, and it ignores me. Time to go, but not before asking the nice receptionists if I can have my box back.