March 2, 1994

Re: Bob is dead

Dear Friends:

On January 29, my cat, Bob, was run over and killed by a car. Although many people do speed through our residential streets, the woman who killed him wasn't even driving fast. (She came from Orinda, had just gone to a funeral, and had stopped to visit a friend.) Apparently, Bob had made a friend on the opposite side of the street, and was preoccupied with chasing him and being chased, and didn't hear the car approaching.

Bob was very cautious. He was always wary of being in the street. But one mistake, and now he's gone. He wasn't even allowed to reach his 10th birthday.

Bob is survived by his brother, Joe. I made sure that Joe saw Bob's body, and saw him being buried (in my back yard, where we enjoyed hundreds of hours together in the last 10 years). When he first saw Bob dead, and sniffed him as he had every day of his life, he recoiled. But I have noticed that Joe has spent a lot of time lying near Bob's grave, apparently missing him just as I do, and wondering when he will come back. Bob was a member of the family. He is irreplaceable. I can't seem to shake the feeling that this is all a mistake. I still think that I will call him, and he will come running for his dinner, just as he has every day since I got him and Joe at one month old.

Bob and Joe, although litter mates, had very different personalities. Joe likes to lie in the sun all day and sleep. And he can never get enough attention. Bob was the responsible one. The Boss. He was the one who defended the territory, with "'fraidy cat" Joe helping only recently. Bob was good at bluffing, and never got hurt. Joe, on the other hand, got wounded in battle several times. Joe's need for petting gets annoying; Bob was always polite. Being the Boss, Bob always got the best spots in the house to sleep. Joe, the undercat, might choose to sleep in a paper bag or paper recycling box. Where Bob was, there is now just a big hole....

Streets that allow the presence of motor vehicles will never be safe. Nor can there be any pleasure in being in a place where you have to be constantly watching out for such vehicles. My mother was killed in a car accident when I was 8. There are probably very few people who haven't lost a relative or friend in the same way. Millions of people and animals are killed on the road every year. Why haven't we long ago put a stop to this madness? Why does Mothers Against Drunk Driving exist, but not Mothers Against Driving?!

Of course, our population is already far too large, and there are far too many cats. If I had known how many birds and other animals are killed by cats, even well fed ones, I probably would never have chosen to adopt them. But that doesn't prevent road kill from being one of mankind's greatest stupidities.

Please join me in remembering Bob and all other road kill.