Thursday, April 28, 2005

Dead Cats

[As promised, my old animal-rights essay.]

As I commuted to UP today, I saw two dead cats by the roadside.

The first was just about five blocks from the apartment we’re living in. I was aboard one of those boisterous, tin-can tricycles that zipped through the narrowest of streets like an F1 racer with utter disregard for life. Crossing E. Rodriguez towards Quezon Avenue, the speed-obsessed driver overtook an SUV with a swift swerve of the motorcycle, nearly throwing me off my seat.

Amidst the rushing wind which turned my hair into a sight-hindering mop, I glimpsed what seemed to be a piece of orange carton strewn on the asphalt. Even as my ride threatened to pull away from the thing with dizzying swiftness, I insistently stuck out my head (at the risk of getting my brains splattered by an incoming car) to see if my suspicions were true.

They were. With my uncanny knack for seeing the morbid, I broke my heart. It was a cat, flattened as if a tank or a pison rolled over it. In all probability, the poor thing may have been made road kill nights ago by some speedster fool at the helm of this very tricycle, and since then no soul took the liberty of giving it a decent burial (not even the ubiquitous, blue-clad street-cleaners of Gloria), all whizzing by too busy with their business meetings or wild bar-hopping parties or exams in college, just mouthing “poor cat!” with a feigned shocked expression, then completely forgetting the incident minutes later. All the while the dead feline is run over three or ten or a hundred times again and again, driving out its innards through its agony-frozen mouth and into the cold, somber road while its skin ends up a carpet for the endless parade of men and cars along the street.

And so I forgot about her (or him) as I went on with my commute. Arriving at Philcoa, I boarded a jeepney which would take me into the country’s heart of free thought and free will -- the Diliman Republic, UP. As the jeep turned right into University Avenue, I saw the second cat.

Compared to the first casualty, this one was quite a bit more fortunate -- it wasn’t flattened as thin as cardboard. Lying on the street, it boasted of plumpness uncommon in stray cats. It had a white, seemingly pristine pelt, though I fancied seeing red on its head. If I were to judge, I’d say a speeding car gave the cat a glancing hit on the skull, and by the sheer velocity of the impact it was sent flying to the sidewalk. Absurd, but possible.

If you fancy another speculation, I can offer another; maybe the cat was brutally kicked in the head by the merciless, drug-induced youth frequenting the many nooks and crannies of UP Naming Mahal. But it doesn’t matter which inference you accept. The second cat remains dead and not a bit more animated than its carton-thin fellow, so I guess it’s not really any luckier than the first.


The sight of animals lying dead or dying has never failed to wrench my heart and render my eyes brimming with salt (an exaggeration, but you get my drift). Those two dead cats triggered a surge of miserable memories, from a dog being run-over right in front of my eight year-old eyes (then being carted off to be served as asucena, so ‘it won’t go to waste’), to a goat being slaughtered at the sidewalks of Quezon Avenue with its vibrato shrieks of terror slowly turning to a liquid gurgle, to countless more cats frozen in their moments of last breath.

I don’t know why I feel distressed when I see animals in agony or death; even a catfish twitching while caught in a hook is a difficult sight for me to bear. Maybe it’s just because they seem defenseless, suffering and dying at the often-inane whims of men. Put yourselves into these animals’ place even for a jiffy, and try to imagine the terror felt by a stray dog or cat a split-second before it is run over by a monstrous, speeding car. Try to imagine how a group of snarling men with long, thick, blood-stained knives would seem terrifying to a goat.

Animals live to survive, nothing more, and they don’t know crap about the concepts of hate, revenge, anger, and sin that makes the death of telenovela villains pleasant to watch. The Corsarius, yours truly, didn’t feel the tiniest bit of joy when the Hollywood-version of Godzilla was finally felled, even after it devastated the Big Apple, squashed men like ants and swatted Apache helicopters like flies. I actually felt sad when the big reptile kicked the bucket; I detested the people who killed him. After all, the plot dictated that men were to blame for the poor beast’s mutated existence, with the nuclear radiation and all. But of course, that was just a movie.

Most city animals whose deaths I’ve witnessed -- stray dogs and cats -- live a very hard life, which makes their violent deaths more pitiful. If in their infancy Death doesn’t fetch them, they go on to suffer for many years, scouring for food in garbage dumps or a carinderia’s outskirts and lapping up water from street canals or puddles of rainwater. When a storm hits the land, where would they go for cover? If they do find one, it’s still no house to shelter them from the biting rain and wind. This cycle goes on excruciatingly until some nice family adopts them or a kind soul from PAWS** picks them up. But most likely, they’ll be made roadkill or asucena, and when that happens, it’s the definitive end to their heartbreaking lives, an almost perfect conclusion to a drama that unfolds everyday around us, unnoticed.

*Ever eaten a poor doggy? Not me. Unfortunately, millions of Filipinos have tasted the meat.
**Philippine Animal Welfare Society.


Blogger ia said...

Dramas unnoticed are finally told.

I'm more of a cat person but all the poor strays regardless of genus or species are at the mercy of the monsters on the road.

And how a man treats animals tells a lot about himself. Usually.

1:32 AM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

Well, you know I'm more of a dog person. :)

"how a man treats animals tells a lot about himself. Usually."

I beg to disagree. I might be good to animals, but I sincerely believe that I am a true bad-ass bastard. ^_______^

2:43 AM  
Blogger transience said...

your preoccupation with roadkill disturbs and amuses me at the same time. no offense to the poor things, though. and i have tasted dog. my father said i ate the dish when i was around 3.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

to transience: oh. i have friends who tell me they've eaten dog without actually knowing it was dog meat. said it tasted like -- what else -- chicken.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

This essay was mentioned in Sassy Lawyer's
of the same topic. Sassy Lawyer is one of the speakers in the upcoming iblog summit. Marami pong salamat! :)

1:50 AM  
Anonymous AuroraBorealis said...

you know, i actually live in a jungle.

i am the worn-out custodian of three dogs, 5 pigeons, a gazillion lovebirds, a stray cat with 4 kittens, and a talking bird.

news of roadkill break my severely-attached-to-animals-of-any-kind heart.

sheesh. i'm outta here. yokong mag senti. maaga pa.

5:55 AM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

to AuroraBorealis: oh, i'm really sorry, i didn't mean to offend your sensibilities in any manner.. :(

my dad calls our home "The Zoo on Cordillera Street". Five dogs, two cats, and a perpetual batch of half-dalmatian pups...right now we've got seven. :)

1:59 PM  
Anonymous AuroraBorealis said...

No harm done, Corsarius. :)

i'm just naturally emotional, in a dimwitted sorta way. :)

from one zookeeper to another, hope this week happens without news of roadkill. :)

5:45 AM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

::sigh of relief::

yes, i pray for that, too. no more roadkills! (haay, if only those animal-don't-cares and animal haters listened to us..)

thanks for dropping by again, Aurora :D

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This week, I saw 2 stray kittens. One going home, the other going to work. The first one, I had my brother pick up and leave in a market place. The other, I brought there myself.

Poor little things. I wonder if they're still alive...

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^that was me

- mai

10:07 AM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

my goodness. it always breaks my heart to see kittens seemingly abandoned/separated from their mothers. :( the chances of making it into their older days are slim without the mom's milk and protection, after all.

i do hope that they're doing okay now. ::prays::

9:44 PM  
Blogger unixlinux said...

Nice blog. Check out my cat gift blog.

9:01 AM  
Blogger The Best Cat Trees said...

Blogger, Been looking on the web for the latest information on cat urine cleaner - saw your site clicked on it.Found Dead Cats, maybe not a perfect match - but found it interesting anyway.. off to look for cat urine cleaner..

3:02 AM  
Anonymous Champorado said...

Hmm... it must be hard for you to eat meat then. ;-)

3:19 PM  

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