Therapy cat dies after highway driver tosses it out window, California officials say

A driver traveling on Highway 101 in California last week watched as a cat was thrown out the driver’s window of the car just ahead — but it was too late to avoid hitting the animal.

The driver who struck and killed the cat called 911 after the Monterey County collision on Sept. 25 around 9:20 p.m., and then the Sheriff’s Office handed off the investigation to the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, according to an SPCA news release.

The SPCA described the car the cat was thrown from as a silver or gold 2000 Honda sedan and said the “gruesome incident occurred at Highway 101 and Blackie Road” in Prunedale.

“Choosing to willfully abandon an animal, and choosing to do it in such a cruel and inhumane way, where there’s no chance the animal could survive, and in fact would suffer, is unfathomable,” said Beth Brookhouser of the Monterey County SPCA, according to KION.

The cat was an adult neutered white male, which belonged to Sun Street Centers in Salinas until the animal disappeared two years ago, according to the SPCA. The deaf albino cat was named Rambo and was used for therapy in a drug treatment program, The Californian reported.

“If someone was despondent and had shoelaces on their shoes, he’d play with their shoelaces,” said Gordon Horne, clinical supervisor at Sun Street Centers, according to the newspaper. “And then shamelessly fall asleep on their chest.”

The local SPCA offered a $1,000 reward “for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who threw a cat from their vehicle on Highway 101, resulting in the traumatic death of the cat.” The SPCA can be reached at 831-373-2631.

On Friday, the SPCA said there was a suspect the organization “did not want to identify ... , but said the person has not been arrested,” KION reported.

The cat’s owner or owners — if they’re tracked down — could face criminal charges, the SPCA said.

“If they did throw him out of the car, we want to get this cat justice,” said Rocio “Rocky” Tovar, who also worked at the drug treatment center where Rambo lived, according to The Californian.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.