I have spent the last two weeks trying to wrap my head around an incident that happened to my son and his family.

About two-and-a-half years ago my daughter-in-law was “chosen” by a stray kitten. She was driving down Ascauga Lake Road when this tiny orange tabby came out of the woods and stopped in front of her car. Now my daughter-in-law is a kind-hearted soul when it comes to pets – at the time they already had four big dogs – so she brought the kitty home anyway. She had the kitty checked out, then got all his shots, had him neutered and kept him.

As has been my experience with all orange tabbies, Hobbes – named after my son, Mac’s, favorite comic strip cat – proved to be a terrific, friendly feline. He would stay close to the kids if they were outside. He was happy to come inside anytime he was allowed, and he loved going into my oldest granddaughter’s room for a little R&R when she was home.

My son’s family lives in a North Augusta neighborhood, but in the county at the end of a road and surrounded on two sides by a huge wooded area. As a result, Hobbes became an outdoor/indoor cat. Mostly he stayed at home. Occasionally he’d visit other folks in the neighborhood, but when I would come over, Hobbes would always be right there – either in the garage or on the driveway or near the edge of the woods around their home.

And for the last two years, Hobbes has endeared himself to all of us. He was a real sweetie.

Then a couple of weeks ago (I think), Hobbes went missing. My daughter-in-law put an ad in their subdivision’s neighborhood social media page, to no avail.

Then one day recently a man appeared on their doorstep. My son was home that day and answered the door. This person, whom Mac recognized as someone who lives in their neighborhood, said simply, “I killed your cat.”

I think my son was in some level of shock. He said, “Well, thanks for letting me know. Did you run over him?” To which this man replied, “No, I’ve been having trouble with strays in the yard ... I killed him.”

What?!? Exactly what does that mean? Realize that this person has children who, according to my son, were familiar with Hobbes, who actually had played with Hobbes. And their dad says, matter-of-factly, “I killed your cat.”

I do not understand. Who does that? Hobbes did not look like a stray. I’ll grant he didn’t have a collar on at the time, but who does that?

This is even worse than an experience we had when my children were still living in my house. We had an orange tabby named Abercrombie, and when our neighbors two doors down decided they didn’t like the fact that Abercrombie would occasionally sleep under their boat during the day, they didn’t come and talk to us, even though they knew exactly where he belonged. Instead, they got a trap from the county, trapped him, removed his collar, took him and the trap back to the county pound and said he was a stray. When he didn’t come home that day, I immediately called the pound, the vet, everyone I could think of. Only by luck, for technically the 72 hours the county held “strays” before euthanizing was up, a friend’s daughter, who was working at the county facility, saw a note on the bulletin board about our cat and called us. She said, “I think your cat is here.” Tom went down and as soon as Abercrombie heard Tom’s voice, he began to wail. So we were lucky enough to get him back, and I’ve not had a cat who was allowed outside again – his being missing and then the circumstances under which he was taken convinced me I wasn’t willing to take the risk ever again.

But for someone to admit he outright killed a family pet, I ask again, who does that?

Now this brings up a number of questions, some to which we may not want to know the answers. This man said he was having a problem with strays and “took care of it.” He didn’t detail how he killed Hobbes, and I am left to feel even more pain as my mind goes there. Did he shoot him? Did he do something even more heinous? What does “having a problem with strays” even mean? How many more pets has he “taken care of”?

Not that it helps at this point, but was what he did legal? I’ve heard from more than one person that even if it’s a stray, a person is not to mete out his own form of “justice.” He should have called animal control. I have been told that my son could possibly press charges or something.

But none of that will bring Hobbes back. None of that will make any of us less concerned about how and why this person did this despicable thing.

I am horrified that anyone would think this action was OK. I am horrified that someone who has children thinks killing a pet is the solution to any perceived “threat.”

I ask again: Who does this?

I don’t understand. I will never understand. This whole thing makes me sick.