"Friend" lives, but only because he had a friend. Cruel indifference almost did him in on a recent Sunday afternoon.

The scene was Lawyers Road in Vienna, a two-lane street where the speed limit is 25 -- and the truth is more like 45. As a result, when a 4 1/2-year-old black longhaired cat named Friend sauntered into the middle of the road, a man driving by at about Truth Speed couldn't avoid him. Bang went car into cat. The force of the collision knocked Friend flying into some bushes beside the road.

Understandably, the man got out of his car to take a look. But what did he look at? According to passerby Janet Gleason of Reston, he checked his bumper to see if it had been damaged. Satisfied that it hadn't been, he got back behind the wheel and drove off, without so much as a glance in the direction of the bushes where Friend lay.

Janet did a lot better than that. She hunted around in the bushes until she found Friend. When she discovered that he was still breathing, she picked him up, carried him to her car and drove him forthwith to a nearby emergency animal clinic.

Friend was in intensive care for the better part of a day. But thanks to the work of veterinarian Melissa Gates, "I think he'll make it," says owner Nadine Gurley of Vienna. "I'm feeding him water with an eyedropper. He seems pretty good."

Which is more than you can say for the behavior of a certain man who was more worried about the chrome on his bumper than the life of a cat who was simply crossing the road.