Photo Comments Sex: Male Weight: 7 lbs.
Leave a treat for Smokey (RIP, sweet boy)
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December 23rd 2009
March 23rd 2009
Smokey Jefferson Albert Thomas Laurent-Prater showed up outside our back door sometime in late September, early October 2009. He was with Dusty, a semi-feral cat that I was feeding. Dusty would eat his fill and saunter off when he was done. Smokey would sometimes stay for a bit, and then leave to go find Dusty. Since it was still warm at that time of the year, we would sometimes leave our back door open. Eventually, Smokey would eat, and then walk up to the screen door to see what was going on in our kitchen. After a bit, my cat, Lucky, and sometimes his brother Star, would sit by the screen door to see if Smokey would come to visit. Smokey got so comfortable visiting us and with Star and Lucky sitting on the other side of the screen door, that he would curl up outside the door and take a nap. Even though the weather started to get colder and I couldn’t leave our back door open as often as I did before, Smokey and Dusty still came by for their food. Since Smokey would sometimes sleep in our garage if we left the garage door open (just enough for a cat to squeeze in), I made him a makeshift shelter out of two cardboard boxes (one very large box and a smaller box to used as a bed) and a bunch of blankets. I put the larger box on its side, put the smaller box inside, and lined it with a few blankets. The rest of the blankets I draped over the box to help keep the heat inside and to also block the cold air. Every morning, after the kids had left for school, I would feed my indoor cats, then get Smokey and Dusty’s food ready so I could take it out to the garage. I could always count on Smokey to either be in his shelter, curled up outside the door or, more often than not, sitting outside the door, waiting for me and his food. When he saw me, he would meow as if to say, “Good morning! Is that for me?” And if I wasn’t fast enough in bringing out his food, he would head butt the screen door so it would rattle against the back door, and meow for me…loudly. Lol!
As November changed to December, I started thinking about bringing Smokey inside. He was already familiar with my other cats, and was acting like he wanted to come inside. I had already decided that I was going to have him neutered. It was just a matter of where he would he recover from his surgery. I knew that I was supposed to receive some money from my ex-husband, David, so I could move out, so I decided that I would bring Smokey in and keep him secluded in my son’s room until he had healed from getting neutered. On December 23, 2009, Smokey was brought to the vet to be neutered and to officially become my cat. I dropped him off in the morning and the vet told me to pick him up after 4:00 pm. They told me that they’d call me if there were any problems. I asked them to test him for FIV and FeLV, the two deadliest viruses that cats can get. About two hours later, I received a call from the vet with the news…Smokey did test positive for both viruses. She wanted to know if I wanted to have him put down. I told her no. I wanted her to continue with the neuter. Smokey was still healthy and not showing any signs of either viruses. I wanted him to live out whatever remaining time he had left in a house with people who loved him. He was still fairly young. We never did find out when his exact date of birth was. But judging by how he looked and acted, my daughter and I figured Smokey to be around 9 months old. The vet thought he may have been closer to a year, but gave Smokey the birth date of March 23, 2009.
With Smokey testing positive for both FIV and FeLV, David was concerned about our other three cats getting them. I told him that FIV was only transferred between cats by either a deep bite wound or from mama kitty to baby kitty. FeLV, on the other hand, was more easily transferable. It could be transferred from sharing food and water bowls, grooming, and in some cases, litter box sharing. At the time, I didn’t what else to do. David suggested that I just give Smokey to a shelter. I think I practically shouted NO! to that. I told him that if I did that, Smokey would almost certainly be put down because of his FIV/FeLV+ status. I even suggested that we just keep Smokey in our son’s room for the majority of the time, and let him out while supervised. But it wasn’t fair to Smokey to keep him cooped up in my son’s room. So I called the local cat rescue group to see if they had any suggestions. Karen, the person I spoke with, suggested that I could have him fostered until I got my money and I could take him back when I moved. I reluctantly agreed. So, on February 13, 2010, Karen picked up Smokey and brought him to his first foster mommy’s house. He stayed with Vickie for just about three weeks when Karen called and asked me what was going on with the money situation. I told her that there was a delay and that I didn’t know when I going to get it. She told me that Vickie couldn’t keep Smokey anymore because she was getting complaints from her neighbors about how much he meowed. She said that she could keep Smokey for me, but he’d have to stay in a large cage in her barn because of his FIV/FeLV status. She couldn’t run the risk of exposing her cats (both fosters and own) to Smokey. Smokey went to live in Karen around the middle of March 2010. He stayed there until late May when Karen called and told me that she had found another person who could foster Smokey for me, but he could only stay with Joanne until the end of July. While I was happy that he was finally going to be let out of that stupid cage, I was back to where I was back in February…how was I going to be able to keep Smokey? Karen told me she had an idea, but she’s get back to me when she had more info. About a week after Smokey went to Joanne’s, Karen called and said that I could have my other cats vaccinated against the FeLV. It would take two shots and they had to be administered 3 weeks apart. We set up the first shot for June 15 and the second one for July 6. After the second shot, I asked Karen when I’d be able to get Smokey back home with me. She said that the vaccine needed a week to fully get into the cats’ systems, so I could get Smokey anytime after July 13. I asked her if July 18 would be good. She told me she had to check with Joanne, but it should be okay.
When July 18 came, I was so nervous. Would my Smokey recognize me? Would he still be the same love machine that he was before he left? And more frightening…would he be mad at me for abandoning him? Before I had left to pick him up, I made sure that my son’s room was set back up to receive him—food, water, litter box, some toys, and a makeshift bed. When I brought him in the room and let him out of the carrier, he walked straight to the litter box and used it. No hesitation, no sniffing around…nothing. He knew where the litter box was. He knew he was back home! I didn’t want to overwhelm him, so I shooed everyone out of my son’s room. After everyone left, I had laid down on my son’s bed and just talked to Smokey. I wanted him to come to me on his own terms. I was lying on my side and Smokey was walking around me, sniffing at me. Finally, he balanced himself on my right hip and laid down on me. I cried tears of joy. All my fears about whether he’d remember, whether he’d be angry were all unfounded.
I knew that since Smokey had been gone for so long, my other cats may not remember him and may not welcome him back right away. I slowly re-introduced all four cats to prevent any animosity and cat fights. While he was more or less accepted by the other cats, Midnight and Lucky made their displeasure about him being here known by hissing at Smokey whenever he got too close. My scaredy-cat cat, Star was the only one who would let Smokey get close without hissing.
Things were going pretty well with everyone for about a month, when I noticed that Smokey was feeling a little lighter than usual although he was eating all his food. I realized that he had worms. I brought him to vet who gave him a shot to get rid of the worms. She also prescribed some antibiotics since Smokey’s gums were a little red and swollen and some liquid vitamins to add to his food to make up for the nutrients that the worms stole from him.
Smokey was a quirky cat, though now I can see that his quirks where actually warning signs. He used to lick metal. Anything metal in the house, he was licking it. He’d sometimes lick the lime scale in the bathroom. He’d lick plastic bags. He’d lick the walls. He licked just about anything. He also wasn’t a very active cat. He preferred to sit on the sidelines and watch the other cats play. He was constantly on the kitchen counters and the dining room table. If there was a clean pot left out in the kitchen, he’d sit in it. I once found him in the dish drainer next to the sink. He even tried to get inside the dishwasher…while I was unloading it! He loved to be cuddled. He was the only one of my cats who I could cradle in my arms like a human baby. In fact, he used to snuggle deeper in your arms so that you and he would be more comfortable holding him. Once he was comfortable, he would put his paws on my mouth and ever so gently knead my lips. He’d gaze at you with his beautiful green eyes with such love. Another thing he liked to do was to sit in people’s laps. Star was already our lap cat, but it was nice to have another one. Smokey would sit in your lap for hours, unlike Star who would only stay for 30 minutes, tops. And if you were lying down, Smokey would lay on your chest with his face >thisclose< to yours. Smokey didn’t believe in personal boundaries. LOL!
But things started to go wrong just before Christmas. Smokey started peeing on different things around the house. He still used his litter box, but occasionally, he’d pee somewhere else. Then he started peeing on David’s bed. He didn’t have a urinary tract infection that I knew of but Smokey was off but not showing any symptoms of anything. He stopped jumping up on the counters, too. But he was still eating, drinking and more or less still using the litter box. He felt a little lighter than usual, but still…nothing that would tell me that something was seriously wrong. His gums and tongue were pale, too. But again, nothing that screamed “Smokey is slowly dying!!” The last time I truly remember Smokey being his old self was Monday, January 9. He and Star both slept in my son’s room. By Tuesday, he was just nibbling his food, but I figured that it was because he didn’t particularly like the flavor I had given him. Late Tuesday evening, he would just sit in the corner, like a little kid in time-out, but he was facing the corner. He still walked to his litter box in my son’s room, but by Wednesday afternoon, Smokey was in bad shape. I couldn’t get him to the vet on Thursday, but we took him in on Friday. She told me that Smokey was severely anemic and all she could really do was to give him a vitamin shot and a shot of something called Epogen. We took him home and he did seem to perk up a bit. We had been feeding Smokey baby food to try and jumpstart his appetite, and he even ate that with gusto. He drank water on his own. Around 7 pm, I tried to feed him, but he wasn’t interested and he looked worse than he did before we went to the vet. My daughter tried to feed him again around 10:30, he again refused to eat. He started gasping and panting; his breathing was really ragged. His eyes were also very wide, and didn’t respond to my daughter waving her hand in his face. He was making sounds like he was coughing, and making motions like he was trying to throw up. He was flopping and rolling around on the floor, making moaning like noises. David and I rushed Smokey to the emergency vet at 11 pm. They took him to the examining room. The nurse came out and told us that Smokey was in full cardiac arrest. She asked me what I wanted to do… And as much as it hurt, I decided that he had suffered enough. I told them to end my baby’s suffering…and at 11:20 pm, he was gone… A large piece of my heart went with him. They asked me if I wanted to see him. I did. I had to say good bye. He looked so small on the examining table. He was wrapped in a towel, so I pulled it down a little so I could feel his fur one more time. I stroked his cheek and kissed him and told him I loved him. I told him that we would all miss his quirky mooing, yowling meow of his. Then I left, but before I did, I took his collar off. I wanted to have something to remember him by.
Good- bye my sweet baby. Know that I loved you more than words can ever express. I know you crossed the Rainbow Bridge and are now the healthy cat that you should have been on Earth. I hope you’ll come visit my dreams so that I can pet you one more time and gaze into your beautiful green eyes again while I hold you in my arms again.
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