Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How do you solve a problem like Smokey Cat?

Anybody that knows me, knows how much I love animals. Dogs and cats are highest on the list, but I'll take just about anything that is not reptilian (turtles and tortoises excluded) or that has four or fewer legs.

Smokey Cat didn't start out as our cat - okay my cat.

He started out as one of three cats the little old lady across the street from our house had.

She had a caregiver that let her expectant daughter and soon to be daddy son-in-law come stay in the little old lady's house, without asking if it was okay.

Fast forward to a year later, when we were convinced that the son-in-law was selling drugs out of the backyard and the little old lady was scared to be in her own house. We called the lady's son and said do something now, else we involve the police.

Caregiver and extended family were given a leave by date and the little old lady went on vacation to her son's house.

The Leave By date came and I talked the caregiver's daughter into giving me her dog (they didn't take good care of her - left her tied up out front all the time - rain or shine - and I couldn't stomach her leaving with them) who is now enjoying the country life out in Occidental with a doting new 'Mom'.

The little old lady came home and the cats were happy and she was happy, then she had a stroke. :-( She didn't get to come home again, since a facility was the best place for her. However, there were still the three cats, one of whom, Sugar, had been an indoor cat.

Enter the daughter-in-law who refused to take care of the cats and locked them out of the house. She wouldn't let us go in to take care of them and let Sugar be inside where she wanted to be. I fed them all on the front porch until the night hubby and I left to go a movie; it was pouring rain and Sugar was huddled in a ball under the front door overhang looking absolutely miserable.

Hubby called the son the next day and asked permission to find the cats homes then we hit up all of our friends. Sugar got a new home right away. Sixers and Smokey Cat were more difficult because they weren't socialized.

Turns out Sixers was ruled by his stomach and after a month or two started to hang out at our house. Then he started beating up the boys, Rasta and Nemo, so an ad was placed. Sixers is now the sole cat of a lovely home out in Penngrove where he gets to chase mice all day.

That left Smokey Cat. The least social of them all. The one that waited till you were back on your side of the street before he'd approach the food bowl, after coming out of his hiding place under the neighbor's house. The one I was going to win over at all costs.

Now Smokey Cat came under my protection in April of 2003. He became my responsibility that same May. It took me six months to get him to let me touch him before putting the food down.

It took another two months to get him to let me pick him up before getting fed and to not run as soon as I stepped on his sidewalk. Slowly he would follow me over to my house and play with the cat toys on the porch. Very slowly. Did you know that if you crab walk backwards at a snail's pace you won't set off light motion detectors? Neither did I. ::very big grin ::

Now we are closing in on April of 2004 and hubby and I are getting ready to move across town. What to do with Smokey Cat, who now comes over when called (but still won't eat at my house), can tolerate being pet and picked up, is starting to recognize our friends and neighbors?

One neighbor is about to have a baby and won't have time, the rest either don't have time or don't care.

So it was decided that Smokey Cat would come with us. This required stuffing him into a crate on moving day. Gee, think that will completely destroy the trust it took me a year to build? You got that right. But stuffed he was for 8 hours.

Smokey Cat was given his own room in the new house for 2 weeks. And all the other cats (we have four you know) learned that they would not get eaten if they ate their food inside (took Rasta three days to get hungry enough to get over that).

Then came the big day. Almost a year to the day that the little old lady got her house back, Smokey Cat was allowed outside of my new house. Can you guess what happened?

Yep - disappeared for 3 days.

But he came back, and he's been back ever since.

He goes to the vet.

Meows at the back door for dinner.

Comes and says hi in the morning when I'm out with the dogs (and he's the ONLY cat Scrat leaves alone because he nipped that in the bud right away).

And when it goes cold enough, he starts asking to come in for a snuggle visit.

Smokey Cat will never be an inside cat, but he has managed to become a pet and one that we love dearly.

Thanks for trusting me Smokey Cat.


Chicken Mama said...

Thanks for sharing. I love hearing about your animals, and especially Smokey Cat.

Romi said...

That's a *great* story! :)

Alison said...

Beautiful. Thanks.

--AlisonH at spindyeknit.com