“Your cat fell off the balcony,” kids coming up the stairs told us. “What? No, he’s right over here.” “No, he’s down there he fell off!” Our cat comes over to see what’s going on. “See, he’s right here.” “Oh.” “Oh, //a// cat fell off the balcony”.

Sure enough, we could see it down there on the floor, laying and looking around. We went downstairs to see if we could help.

It was the cat from the neighbours upstairs, a small, young cat that was into extreme acrobatics. One afternoon I found him in front of our door, and he escaped into our flat. I spent ten minutes trying to get him, as he jumped from the balcony to the office window (we’re on the sixth floor) and balanced on the railing, all that in high wind.

On that sunny Sunday, he was laying on the floor, in the corner of a garage door, just under the balconies. He was looking around as we approached. Blood was coming out of his mouth and eyes. After a minute not knowing what to do, Narelle went back up to see if she could find the owners, or call or a vet, or something.

I stayed with him and laid my hand on his neck. He cried blood. He was fighting to breathe for all the blood in his mouth and windpipe and lungs. I felt powerless and sad. I could hear the gurgle of the blood down in his throat. He’d pooed himself. That’s the smell of death, a mixture of blood and shit.

Later the owners came and I moved the cat in its carrier. I didn’t think he stood a chance after that fall from the 7th floor down on to concrete, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

That night the neighbours came around to let us know the vet gave him morphine, then found he had perforated lungs, perforated palate. He was put to sleep.