On Injured Stray Cats and Community

Last night was heartbreaking.

It was late, about 11:30pm, and I was just about to brush my teeth when I heard this terrible noise from the parking lot outside my condo. Something was crying - it sounded like a cat was trapped somewhere. I went outside and pinpointed the sound to under my neighbours SUV. I spied a black cat crying under the car, and it looked like it was drooling. I ran back inside to get my phone and a flashlight. It was still there, still crying, when I got back, and was indeed drooling pretty badly.

I call the ER vet, which is actually only a few blocks away. They said they couldn't do anything unless I brought the cat in. At this point I couldn't get the cat out from under the car, and I wasn't about to touch it. Maybe that's insensitive, but I have my own cat (who recently recovered from cat cold/eye infection) and I wasn't about to touch a strange, drooling cat incase it had some disease or something. They recommended I try get ahold of animal control by calling 311 (Edmonton's info line).

So I called 311. They said they couldn't do anything because animal control was closed until 8am the next morning. They recommended I call 911 because protocol says the Fire Department rescues cats stuck in trees so maybe they could help.

In the meantime the cat moved to under another car, and then over to under cars in the parking lot of the neighbouring condo building.

I was apprehensive about calling 911, as I didn't want to bother them or tie up the line in case a 'real' emergency happened. I've actually called 911 a few times before (and once in the UK I called 999 too). The poor cat was still crying, and by now I'd noticed while it was walking/running around ok, it couldn't seem to close it's mouth, hence the drooling.

I called 911 and they said Fire couldn't do anything unless the cat was actually trapped somewhere. They did put in a page to emergency animal control and told me to keep an eye on the cat while waiting for animal control to call.

It was after midnight. I just stood there, feeling so helpless. The poor cat kept crying.

By this time two girls from the neighbouring condo building had come out, woken up by the crying noise. They said they thought the cat belonged to a woman in the condo building across the alley, as she has two cats who wander about sometimes. They came out of the building and one identified the cat as probably belonging to the lady across the alley.

Unfortunately, the cat ran across the road, through the park, and into the bushes across the field area. We had lost it.

The girls thought we should try tell the lady about the cat, so we knocked on her window. Yes, this was not really a good idea and kind of creepy, but I think we were a bit panicked and not sure what to do. There was no answer.

Two other people were on their balconies, watching this whole ordeal. They did nothing.

Finally animal control called me back, but she said unless the cat was trapped she wouldn't come out as it would take her an hour to get there. Plus the cat had ran off. She said the drooling and inability to close its mouth probably meant it had gotten hit by a car, but the fact that it was able to move around ok and cry meant it would probably survive awhile, until it got hungry. She advised us to call animal control in the morning if we saw it, and to contact the lady in the morning.

So, many mosquito bites later, we went home.

I was so sad, almost on the verge of tears. It was so heartbreaking to see the cat in pain, and to not be able to do anything. I was also very sad for the lady across the alley, who likely just lost one of her cats. I came back and cuddled my own cat before going to bed after about 1am.

In the morning, I wrote a note to tape to the lady's window. I walked across the alley to her window, and there was a black cat just sitting inside, looking at me! So either the cat came home and was healed (unlikely) or the injured cat was a stray or belonged to someone else. I took a walk around the park to see if I could find it, and even talked to the playground leader to see if she had seen a cat during her site search, but no one had seen it. I couldn't find the cat.

I hope it went home, or was picked up by someone else. I hope it got help. I feel so bad - I hope it's not in pain.

Two lessons came out of this experience:

1. Keep your cats indoors, or on a leash. Seriously, why would you take the chance? I've always had indoor cats and they don't miss the outside. I've thought of getting a collar and leash for Molly and taking her outdoors for some playtime. And that reminds me, I really should get Molly to wear a collar even while inside, just in case she does get out.

2. Community is important. I'm glad the girls came out to help, but those 2 other people just sat there and watched. I think it's important to get to know your neighbours. But how do you do that? I'm very curious to get to know all the people in my building, and have been told a condo board meeting will be called soon. But what about my neighbours from the other buildings? Wouldn't it be great if we had an alley party or something? How does that get organized? We do have a community league, which I've been thinking of joining, but even that doesn't necessarily help me get to know my neighbours around the. It just makes me sad. People don't often hang out on their balconies, and I rarely see people about, unless they're going from their buildings to their cars.

I'm not sure what to do about the lack of community in my little corner of the neighbourhood. Any ideas?

Poor cat. So sad.


  1. Ugh. That's really upsetting. I wouldn't have known what to do either. It's good that you tried to help the cat, even if you ended up not being able to do anything.

  2. That's a disturbing story. How good of you and the other 2 girls to try and help...disturbing that the others did nothing. I organized a street party when we moved here, sent out an invitation and surprisingly most neighbours showed up. We dragged lawn chairs and tables out and most people brought something to eat. (Chips, cupcakes, drinks etc) I highly recommend it.

  3. Thanks for the suggestions Laura! Organizing a street party sounds not too hard after all!


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