Smokey Joe

When Hubby and I first got married he was not a cat person. In fact, he didn’t particularly even like cats. He especially wasn’t fond of my cat. Smokey was an unusual animal and could be quite jealous. I had been in possession of her for several years when I met hubby. 

 As most of you know, my first job out of high school was as an animal control officer. That is a nice way of saying I was a dog catcher. My job totally depressed me because we were constantly having to put animals down, especially those that were turned in by their owners or those that were caught out in the wild unless we could find homes for them within a reasonable amount of time. A “reasonable” amount of time could be anywhere between a week and maybe two depending on how full we were. The fuller the shelter, the less time we were able to hold onto an animal. We had very few cat cages so the time limit for cats was lots less than those for dogs. That being said, let’s just say my entire family “inherited” lots of animals as did most of my friends (and enemies!). 

I worked for the city animal control, not the county. One day the county officers gave us a call because they were on our side of town and had a “wild” cat taking up space in one of their cages on their truck had been called out on an emergency call on our side and needed the cage but didn’t have time to go all the way to their facility. They wanted to know if they could drop the cat at our shelter. They brought her in on one of those poled leashes. You know it’s a LONG pole with a leash attached to the other end to keep the animal away from harming you. She was going absolutely berserk. They got her in the cage and left. 

Whenever you would go anywhere near the cat cages she would go wild hissing and smacking at the cage door. Needless to say NONE of us wanted to feed the cats in the morning because she’d even try to reach through the cars of the cage and scratch you. We basically dropped food into the cage from above and hoped it got in there. After less than a week they started talking about putting her down. 

She was SO beautiful it just broke my heart. When the day finally came for them to put her down I told them I would try to take her home and tame her before we put her down. I just wanted her to have a fair shot like any of the other animals. I swear I think she was not only feral, but I think she must have been part actual wild cat if that is at all possible. She had tufted ears and feet and her hind end sat up higher than her front end and her teeth were really big too. 

I took her home but literally had to put the cage in the empty bedroom (after I had set up a litter box and food and water) open the cage door facing away from me, run out and slam the bedroom door so she couldn’t attack me or get out. Every day I would fix a fresh bowl of food and water and open the door just wide enough to fit the bowls in and slide them in and slam the door. Before I did this I’d slide a hanger or something under the door and slide it back and forth to scare her away from the door. She would still hiss at me when I slid the bowls in. If I saw she was away from the door when I slid it open I’d try to grab a couple of the dirty bowls (or else I would have run out of dishes pretty quickly). This went on for almost two weeks. Yeah, it smelled bad because I was afraid to go in and change the litter box and it was across the room. No, I guess I hadn’t really thought that one out very well beforehand. 

After almost two weeks, one day I opened the door a smidgen to slide the bowl in and there she was! I didn’t know whether to scream and slam the door or go ahead and slide the bowl in. Before I could decide she rubbed against the door and meowed! Not a bad scary meow but an “I’m lonely” meow. So I took a chance and slid one hand in back side of my hand up so as not to intimidate her and ready to pull back a bloody nub, but, to my astonishment, she rubbed against my hand. Then she started purring! From then on she was my friend and “protector”.   Meet Smokey Joe: 

My Smokey


Once we were sitting (my room mates and I) in the living room with the front door open but the screen door shut and the paper boy came to collect for the paper and she ran over to the door, reared up on her hind legs, bared her teeth AND claws and let out a growl and hiss that would have scared the paint off the wall. Needless to say the paper boy would not open the door to get the money even after we told him it was okay. I had to take it outside to him. She softened up some over the years but still considered me hers. She liked to sleep curled around my neck with her nose in my ear. 

So, when hubby and I got married let’s just say they both thought I was theirs and neither appreciated the other trying to usurp my attention. He didn’t like Smokey always wanting to snuggle on me and she didn’t like him not wanting her too. There were many a night that those two went at it. He would throw her off the bed and she would swat at him or hiss at him and I’m sure he received his share of scars at the mercy of her paws. 

She was an absolutely gorgeous animal. My ex brother in law once dipped her in flea spray once and it seeped into her skin and almost killed her. After that she didn’t tolerate things like that well and she’d lose her hair and stuff sometimes. I’m not sure whether it was old age or insecticide poisoning or what that actually killed her. We had moved from our apartment to a duplex about a year after we got married and we had the exterminator go in and spray the day we moved in. She died that night. I don’t even know how old she was since she was trapped out in the woods and fully grown when they found her. I like to think that she had just lived a full life and that it wasn’t premature. She was a special kitty though and I do credit her with eventually changing hubby’s mind and converting him to a cat lover despite their volatile beginnings.


About pegbur7

South of the Mason/Dixon Line
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21 Responses to Smokey Joe

  1. suzicate says:

    That’s a sweet story. She was beautiful. Sounds like she needed to develop trust and you were just the one to do it.

  2. Alaina says:

    aw, that is a really sweet story…it takes a good person to take her in like the way you did.

  3. Heather says:

    Wow, that was so brave of you to take the chance on her. I would have too but most wouldn’t.
    You had me chuckling and awwing at the same time. I can just imagine the power struggle she had with your hubby. Too funny.
    It truly may have been old age or the move. We lost our cat of 16 yrs just weeks after moving from the only place he had ever know as home. I don’t think he handled the move to well and the stressed was too much.

    • pegbur7 says:

      I would have thought more the move if it had been moving from someplace she’d been for a long time but we had only been there about a year or so. I’m thinking a combo of old age and the insecticide.

  4. Ron says:

    First, I have to give you a big HUG.

    {{{{{ Peg }}}}}

    And say bless you for having the patience and compassion for taking care of Smokey! You sound so much like my mom. She would do something like this. She loves animals.

    Isn’t it funny how people who start off not liking cats, usually end up loving them? My father was same way, couldn’t stand them. However, he ended up being a HUGE cat lover.

    Thanks for sharing such a touching story, dear friend!


  5. What an extraordinary cat! She was gorgeous! And bless your heart for saving her. I also have a “Smokey Joe Trouble” and he’s a pretty old guy now (about 16). I was not a cat person before having him, but I adore the crazy boy!

  6. Carol says:

    I once adopted a feral cat – she was a long haired tortoise, and cuddled so nicely with me when I picked her up. Then I put her in a cardboard carrier to take her home – which she shredded on the trip. I got her in the house, and that was the last time I touched her. She’d sleep on my bed and curl up in the same room and purr, but touching was not allowed.

  7. Smokey Joe is a very lucky cat to have found you. It sounds like he didn’t have much trust in us humans (which after seeing some of the things that are done to poor defenseless animals I can’t say that I blame him).

    One of my cats, Harley is a shelter cat that was put into a bag, closed and thrown in a trash can. Thank goodness someone walking by heard his sad cries for help and saved him in the knick of time.

    He is not angry with people, he is terrified of them now. The only ones that can touch him are myself & the hubby and the hubby part just started about 6 months ago (he’s 5 now, got him at 3 months).

    Smokey Joe loved you with all his heart and your patience should be commended. You are a good soul!

    • pegbur7 says:

      Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I loved that cat as much as she loved me. I hate seeing animals mistreated.

      Poor kitty thrown in the garbage! It was very lucky someone found it.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Angelia Sims says:

    My first cat was named Smokey Jo. She was so tolerant – from being dressed in doll clothes, to being caught in the mouth of a bloodhound. That poor cat. I think she finally got smart and ran away.

    You did such an honorable thing and gave him a great life. Glad hubby came around. Glad you had Smokey to love.

  9. Gretchen says:

    I had THREE cats when I started dating my husband. Which is about as close to “crazy cat lady” as I’d want to get. Like your husband, he was NOT a cat person. But they quickly won him over, and he ended up being the most devoted kitty daddy around. Sweet story.

  10. terrepruitt says:

    Wow! I am happy that worked out for you. She just needed to be alone to think about her behavior. Just kidding.

    She was a beauty.

    And I am glad your husband came around to liking cats. I get tired of the “cat-person” or “dog-person” thing. I love them both. They are both great animals.

  11. LisaF says:

    How wonderful of you to see past Smokey’s defenses and have the patience to wait for them to fall away. You provided the much needed unconditional love to give her a life better than the one she had. And she, in turn, gave you her trust.

    • pegbur7 says:

      Thanks Lisa, and yes, I did love her unconditionally. Even when she ripped open my arm when I tried to give her pills! LOL But I know she didn’t mean to hurt me, she just didn’t want those darn pills!

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