Fourteen years ago a beautiful, green eyed, gray, kitten was wandering the neighborhood. My son and his girlfriend were sitting on the front steps of our house, when she walked up to them softly meowing. Hungry, no doubt. We gave her a plate of milk and sent her on her way. A few minutes later, she returned. Persistent little creature.
“Can we keep her?” Asked my twenty-year son. “No way!” was our reply. We neither wanted nor needed another cat in the house. We had just lost a cat a few months prior and were in no mood to take on any more pets. Pip, our ninety-pound Old English Sheepdog, was enough to keep us busy. “But we’ll take care of her.” My son pleaded. “She will live in our house at school.” “Okay,” We agreed, “But she is YOUR responsibility.” Two weeks later, when the landlord found out a cat was in the house, she become our responsibility. And that is how Smokey found her forever home.
Well, it wasn’t always Smokey. First it was Binger. Remember a twenty-year old college student is naming her. Then Stoli; after the vodka. That wouldn’t do, so we settled on Smokey. She had the most beautiful coat. All grey with faint ringlets on her tail. Nearly perfect proportions. Her only flaw, if you could call it that, was that her legs were slightly too short. She had a funny way of running. It just added to her charm.
When my younger son was a baby, he would constantly watch The Lady And The Tramp. In one scene, Si and Am, the two deliciously trouble making cats, sing "We Are Siamese If You Please." That became Smokey’s song. I would hold her head in my hands, lock eyes with her, and softly sing the song to her. She would gaze right back at me and purr.
Through the years we got two other cats, Lucky and Misty, as well as our dog Rocky. By this time Smokey became the undisputed Alpha cat. She would determine who got to sit in what window. Who got to sit on what piece of furniture. And most important of all, who got to sit on the kitchen table under the warm lights. Woe to the cat or dog that was in the spot she wanted. A hiss, growl and a smack across the snout would send the interloper running.
A few months ago she started to go downhill. She stopped grooming herself. She was not eating well. She was throwing up and had diarrhea. She was sleeping a lot. We were treating her for hyperthyroid. We changed her diet to a modified RAW diet. She started to thrive. She seemed to be her old self again. Affectionate, loving and still maintaining her pack status.
Last night, I was grooming her on her perch; A five foot tall pie safe. She was cooperating as usual. I finished up, put the brush away, threw away the fur and remarked to my wife how great she looks. Right in front of my eyes, she got up and fell off her perch! She hit the ground hard. She didn’t move. When she finally got up she ran down into the basement. She was panting hard, her eyes were extremely dilated and she was drooling profusely. Not good. We ran down to our vet’s office. They immediately took her in. They put an oxygen mask on her and gave her a sedative. Since our vet doesn’t have any overnight staff, they told us to take her to the emergency clinic. We frantically drove to the hospital and they too put her on oxygen. The doctor explained all of the possible outcomes and tests they would do to diagnose the problem. We glumly nodded and agreed to have them do what they could do.
This morning, when we called, we found out the bad news. She was dying. There was nothing the doctors could do to save her. I raced down to the clinic. They brought her in to the room. She was bedraggled. That proud, beautiful cat, shaved, with needle ports attached to her. It was heartbreaking. The attendant left. I picked her up in my arms, hugged her gently and told her how much I loved her. The doctor came in and explained how the procedure would work. As she inserted the anesthesia into the port, I held Smokey ever so gently and sang, “We are Siamese if you please...” Those were the last words she heard. I hope it comforted her as she made her journey over the Rainbow Bridge. She was a wonderful cat. Our lives are enriched with pets and when they leave us, they leave a little hole in our hearts.
August 1998-April 19, 2012