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:
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.