Today is the three-month deathversary of when we lost Rowena, my teenager’s pet rat. Exactly one month after Rowena died, however, we welcomed a new member to our family.
However, this new particular member of the family was sort of unexpected!
Ever since my dog, Chewbacca, died, we have made it a point to get a new dog or cat. My son desperately wants a Pug, but so far, we have not been able to get him one. We almost adopted a cat, but we couldn’t get matters situated in time before someone else adopted him.
Since I am all for animal rescue, I keep my eyes out for the chance to save an animal in need of a new home. In fact, if I had it my way, my home would be an animal sanctuary for unwanted or abandoned pets. Hey, a girl can dream! But for now, I have to keep it low-key, and that means replacing the pet that we had lost. Actually, two pets were now gone. The losses were sort of getting to us.
And that’s why I think it was providence that a new animal was brought into our lives exactly one month after we lost the second one. That animal was Smokey.
For some time, I had heard about Smokey in the neighborhood. My friend knew Smokey’s owner and my friend also occasionally cared for Smokey. Smokey is an American shorthair cat and his previous owners did not take very good care of him. They ended up abandoning him after they moved. My friend took care of Smokey, who had to live outside because she’d already reached her pet limit at her apartment, but she wanted to rehome him so that he would have his own official home. Also, my friend is planning to move, so she and her daughter worried about Smokey being taken care of after they left.
I expressed interest in taking in Smokey, but my husband needed convincing first. He wasn’t sure if it was a good idea since we are also planning to move. I know that moving is a difficult experience for a pet, but I felt Smokey would have enough time to adjust with us as his new family and get used to us before we move. So it was decided that we would take Smokey.
Unfortunately, we were not yet prepared for a cat. I had NO cat stuff at all. When we had a dog, he was with us for 21 years. I have not been a cat owner since the early 1990’s. All of my previous cat stuff was long gone. Also, we were not financially capable of going out to get cat stuff. In our hearts, we were ready to welcome Smokey, but we were not ready for him financially!
I told my friend and she took action. She placed a call-out to people in the neighborhood to help us out in being able to give Smokey what he needed in his new home. Litter boxes, cat litter, cat food and even beds were donated to us for Smokey. They even donated toys and a collar! I was very touched by this communal generosity. This definitely made it easier for us to take Smokey then and there! (Thank you again, everyone!)
Of course, there was also one other thing I worried about: Smokey’s previous owners coming back and looking for him. I had not heard good things about them and also that they may be violent. So I was pretty nervous about being the one to “take their cat” after they had abandoned him. (I must confess: I had once abandoned my own cat. I have felt guilty about this ever since. But I would be happy if someone had taken my own cat in and kept him as their own. In some way, I saw my taking in an abandoned cat as absolution for abandoning one. I am NOT happy about this part of my past. I used to be a rotten person and I know I did several bad things in the past that I am not proud of. I have never again abandoned an animal since. Even so, I have never forgiven myself for this.) But, fortunately, Smokey's previous owners never showed up. Seriously, I spent the first couple of months expecting to hear that they were back in town looking for Smokey. I held my breath and expected that we’d have to surrender him back to his previous owners. But now it has been three months and I am starting to breathe easier and feel that they are not going to come back for Smokey. Now I even feel brave enough to post about him on my blog.
When we first got Smokey, he was really edgy around us. He spent A LOT of time in his carrier and he wasn’t very trusting of us, either. The slightest noise made him jump. We had to be careful not to be too loud around him because he got scared easily. There was one time he even got out and ran off. That was hard; my son was in tears because he just loved Smokey. But, fortunately, Smokey came back, and a friend said maybe this means that Smokey knows this is his home now.
Later on, he felt more comfortable around us. He started to spend more time around us and out of his carrier. We would give him lots of treats and made sure he always had plenty of food and water. My son made him a cat box and we also got him a cat tower. We got him other toys and, when his neck wound from a fight with a neighborhood cat was healed, we put on his collar. He HATED the collar at first and I wondered if his refusal to wear it was his intention to keep himself a “free cat.” But he gradually accepted wearing the collar and stopped tearing it off.
Now Smokey is happily settled in with his new family. We love him a lot and give him lots of attention. He is very attached to my oldest and my oldest even wants to take Smokey with hir when ze goes off to college. (Ha!) I have taken lots of pictures of Smokey and my son even made a video of Smokey playing with his fidget spinner. Smokey has certainly adjusted well to his new family and new home and I am very grateful that we were able to take him in.