8 - Cat

Abigail Black 11/15/2023
My one rule on dog and cat roadkill is that if it has a collar, I ain't taking it home. I'm calling the number on the collar. If there's a collar but no number, I'm not taking it home because someone might be looking for it. If it doesn't have a collar, I'm taking it home. This cat had no collar.

November 26, 2022. My mother returned home from errands and informed me of a dead cat in the median of a nearby bypass. I purr-suaded my dad to drive me out with a large trash bag. He waited on the side of the road while I sprinted through a break in traffic and found a freshly run-over tabby. I checked it for a collar, found none, so I bagged it and dad drove me home. I put the trash bag in first, then the cat on top. I noticed that its hind leg was at a very bad angle, so it probably got hit there.

November 30. It rained. The cat was wet. There was a little bit of blood on the bag by its mouth.

December 12. Black fluid started leaking from its mouth. Flies started laying their eggs, mostly in the mouth and butt.

December 19. The cat started to bloat. The skin was already peeling away from the mandible and a huge chunk was gone from the base of the tail.

January 7, 2023. I may never do another cat just on the virtue that it REEKED worse than any other animal! The deer smelled better! As the guts liquified they spilled out the mouth and butt where the flies entered, and there looked to be more trapped in the stomach cavity. The skin had pulled away from the hind legs and I was surprised that the crooked leg wasn't in a million pieces. So it must have been the spine and pelvis that met the car.

January 23. The fur was sloughing off and the skin sagging into the cavities. The flesh around the head was completely gone and the skull was free floating. Absolutely smelled to high heaven. I've never gagged before at these projects but I did with this cat.

February 15. So, in winter, decomposition slows due to the low temperatures. It also made the hide extremely tough.

March 10. A thunderstorm rolled through and I went out to check the cat and found it melted. The hide had softened with the thaw, so I took a stick and peeled it back to expose the cavity, and oh my that was a terrible mistake. It was filled with this grainy, off-yellow gunk that stunk worse than the decomposition itself and I have NO idea what that bubbling stuff was but it was AWFUL. I almost threw up. Ugh.

March 28. The cat has turned into the worst puddle known to man. Except for a few ribs and the skull, it has engulfed every bone in its body.

May 9. I pulled out just the skull and mandible and put them through the cleaning process, in an aluminum tin and hydrogen peroxide bath, followed by a good time in sunlight,

May 26. The skull bleached very nicely. I glued in the loose teeth.

October 13. Sometime a few months before, I braved the horrid puddle and rescued every bone I could find. Most of the ribs, some toe phalanges and tail bones were unable to be found. I think they were eaten by the gunk. Anyway, I put them in the same aluminum basting tin I used with the deer for the cleaning. I did a hydrogen peroxide soak first, drained it for a toothbrush scrub, and a second bath. The basting tin got flimsier with each handling, so I'm not sure how many more animals it can take before it falls apart. Eh, it came from the dollar store. Anyway, by October I had everything sun-bleached and ready for reassembly on my handy dandy Lazy Susan. I love that thing, it's awesome.

October 25. The cat's not quite big enough to be posable like the deer, but I did feed through the vertebrae a length of copper wire for rigidity. I printed out a cat skeleton picture as a reference.

October 27. This cat definitely got hip-checked by a bumper. The pelvis was in pieces and I think there were a few remnants of vertebrae that didn't make it onto the final structure because of how little there was left. I glued together the pieces of pelvis, phalanges, and the leg joints. I got more glue because I had two tubes of the gray Gorilla left and I was pretty sure that wouldn't be enough.

October 29. More progress. The big black rectangle shape is my phone clip, ignore that.

November 4. So, Gorilla makes a glue that's in a liquid and a gel form. The gel is kinda like the gray Gorilla tubes I normally use. The liquid glue was really good at dripping into the small crevices between the ribs and the scapula of the shoulder blades. I brought out my old doggy bank to assist.

November 5. I attached the other three limbs. I used several heads to get everything perfectly balanced. Note the length of copper wire sticking out of the neck. I'm going to slide on the skull, not glue it, so I can remove the head whenever I need a reference.

November 6. I turned over the cat to thoroughly glue the scapula to the spine, since the ribs were so damaged there aren't many attachment points I could use. I cut two lengths of copper wire to glue to the feet so it'd be harder for the cat to fall over, and to help it stand on its toes better.

November 7. I took the cat outside and sprayed it up, down, and around with polyurethane.

November 8. The finished cat in what seemed to be the most appropriate location; on top of a high place and looking down at the world.