I Quit Smoking The Day I Found Furby (a rescued cat)

Most of you know me as a writer. Many of you also know I have a degree in photography. My little know secret in life is I once had a 1-2 pack of cigarettes per day habit that lasted from the time I was 27 years old until November 3, 2009. The day I found Furby on the way home from my ex’s funeral is the day I put down my cigarettes.

Baby Furby

Baby Furby. Photo by Elisa


I’d spent much of the past month sitting with my ex, both at his home and later at Rainey Hospice House. He was in the end stages of lung cancer, which had moved to his brain. I’d like to say finding Furby is the sole reason I gave up the habit. That wouldn’t be totally true. I also gave it up because I spent 24/7 with a man who despite having an extremely high threshold to pain cried like a baby once the cancer spread to his brain. It’s the first and only thing that scared me in the thirty years I spent smoking.

I was a strange smoker because I didn’t inhale. I was hospitalized in December of 2006 for a TAH (in female language that means total abdominal hysterectomy). During my three day hospital stay I never craved a cigarette and didn’t need a nicotine patch to get me through. I was employed in security at the same hospital during that time period. The hospital was a smoke-free environment. Many employees would leave the property to go smoke. During my three years of employment there I never did. I’d wait until the twenty minute ride home in the morning and smoke the whole way there. It took me three cigarettes to get home. I might also add it took me three cigarettes to get to work each day. Plus two to go to bed on and two to wake up. On a really bad day spent with my ex, I could easily go through more than two packs!


Then came Furby, who entered my life and changed the way I looked at smoking. I had a pack and a half of cigarettes with me. I didn’t throw them away. I smoked all of them that evening and I never looked back.

I didn’t go through a lot of withdrawal symptoms. I smoked mostly out of habit rather than a nicotine addiction. In the beginning, I curbed the craving for my mouth to be doing something by eating hard sugar-free candy. The trouble is, this type of candy has an ingredient that has a laxative effect. So I soon had to switch to chewing gum.

Three and a half years have gone by now. I still get the urge to do something with my mouth during times of stress. I laugh as I sometimes have an uncontrollable desire for a piece of candy or a stick of gum. As far as cigarettes and nicotine go, I never purchased another pack. I’m realistic in the belief if I purchase even one pack, I’ll be addicted once more. On really horrible days when nothing else can calm me down, I play a computer game or take a long walk. Any of these options is better than the alternative I used to turn to when having a bad day.


I’d tried unsuccessfully to quit on three occasions in the past and always relapsed. I tried the pills-didn’t work. I tried the nicotine lozenges and gum with no success. I’d hope to remain smoke-free after my TAH and caved to my desire by smoking the entire ride home. I’m sure my neighbor didn’t appreciate this as she’s a non-smoker.

I feel I’ve given not only my pets, but also myself a little extra time on this earth by quitting this filthy habit. When I smell cigarette smoke these days I find myself very nauseous. I imagine the pets of smokers may feel the same. They just can’t communicate that to their smoking caregiver’s.


I did an article for PoC that can be found at http://pictures-of-cats.org/feline-lymphoma-and-secondhand-cigarette-smoke.html that told the statistics for cats becoming ill should the cat live with a smoker. Chances for feline lymphoma may be 65% greater. A cat exposed to cigarette smoke for five years may be three times more likely to develop the disease. Renal failure in cats has also been linked to secondhand cigarette smoke.

Think about what it’s like for a cat to live in a home where people smoke on a daily basis. Go wipe a small section of your wall or ceiling if you can. The same black smoke that comes off on a piece of cloth is the same smoke your cat will ingest while grooming itself. Your walls nor your cat may “look” dirty, but chances are both have the filth on them.

I won’t give any of you a great speech about how I feel much better since I quit smoking because I don’t feel any better at all. I will tell you I’m saving a lot of money by not having a nicotine addiction to support anymore. I’ve felt some better since incorporating daily walks into my routine, but the same thing happened when I was speed-walking and still smoked.

It’s better for our pets if we don’t pollute the air they’re forced to breathe. I used the word forced, because unlike us, they can’t leave home to get away from the contaminants contained in cigarette smoke. Nor can they tell us just how much they hate the smell.


I’m sorry I can’t offer any one successful method to quit smoking. I consider myself lucky to have walked away “cold turkey.” Many people try and try and try and still can’t break the habit. Have any of the readers here quit smoking for their pets? Any tips you can give those who wish to quit but can’t? The only thing I can say is you have to be mentally prepared to quit, as well as physically. Until your mind is made up to ditch the cigarettes, no product on the market is likely to help.


Facebook Comments


I Quit Smoking The Day I Found Furby (a rescued cat) — 12 Comments

  1. We are all able to become addicted to something. I think it becomes more difficult to give up addictions when you are old because you are less likely to care about long life.

    It is strange how vulnerable humankind is to addictions that make life feel better. Life must be terribly uncomfortable for most people.

    It doesn’t matter how physically comfortable life is. The important bit is what is happening inside the head.

    I have never smoked. Being a lawyer drove me to liking a bit of wine in the evening. I still like that only the evening starts a bit earlier these days 😉

    I don’t know if there are many examples of pets helping people break an addiction. I suspect there are quite a few.

    • Yes Michael, me for one. I was addicted to all the drugs left right and centre – I have definitley taken every drug you can name and I cleaned up my act 100% now. Being sent to boarding school as an 8 year old french boy to another country and going through that whole system for 10 years royally *****d me up – or so a bunch of therapy has made painfully clear. Gigi, my first cat was the reason I never let myself go too far. I had to be around to protect her no matter what and look after her. I really did look after her. But once I got thrown in jail for a few days and I used my one phone call to get her human mama to go get her and bring her to her house to stay with her sister til I was out. My life could have been very different if it wasn’t for her. She knew when I was in a bad state and would complain very clearly and vocally and I always listened to her. It might sound wierd. But at the time I always believed I can do whatever I want to myself but if I am responsible for anyone else then I had to make sure I always did the right thing with regard to that. I always went to work, I got almost straight As in university and I was always good to people etc. Just when I spent a few days at home alone or with the wrong kind of people I didn’t take care of myself. Having Gigi meant I could never go overboard. It meant I had to make sure she was happy and I had to love her – and I always did, so much, no matter what. She loved me tons as did I her. As you know I built her things and made her life according to what she needed and wanted. People were always quite taken by how close me and Gigi were and how she would sit on my shoulder and talk to me. I am incredibly thankful for her and she made me ‘into’ cats. When I moved back to europe I was pretty lost living without her and alone in a new country. I worked hard though and moved to Slovenia where I was with cats again after ages. Cats totally change my will to live, to get up in the morning, to look after myself. I feel alot of love and purpose. I’m not sure I can live without them 🙂 – all I have to do now is quit smoking! Sorry for being brutally honest but it explains alot about why I have so much to do with cats. 🙂

  2. I replaced a smoking addiction with a writing addiction. I have periods of binge writing followed by dry spells. Sadly, I can’t tolerate most wine as it contains sulfites, which trigger migraines. You still have plenty of life left in you Michael. Anyone who drinks wine is “well preserved” 🙂

  3. I am addicted to about a pack a day and this is the first time I have had to think about it since my cats are not able to spend most the day outside as they did in the past. I plan to stop soon. I have the stop smoking book thats very famous and I have started reading it, slowly, I forget the author, his last name is Carr I think. My cats are the main reason I have decided to do it sooner rather than later. It’s been 6 months with them inside and me smoking in the evenings and mornings.

  4. I have never smoked but I have friends who have and found it very difficult to give up, so I admire anyone who does so.
    I can’t understand addictions, having never been addicted to anything…
    Or have I?
    YES I have, I’ve been addicted to cats all my life, I couldn’t even contemplate a life without cats in the world.
    I do love a glass of wine or a G and T but I could live without them, I couldn’t live without cats.

    • I’m addicted to cats without even a shadow of doubt. Literally. If I must go for work for a long weekend and work I start feeling bad without my cats and if I see a cat on my travels I get very excited and it makes my day a whole lot better already. My addictions are cats and bicycles actually. I spend all my money on those two things and focus all my time and efforts on those two things and I have an addictive personality so I get pretty seriously into those things. Far better than being addicted to TV. I have no TV in my place and haven’t since I was about 20. I think the TV is the worst of the worst in terms of your self confidence – and it’s terribly addictive. Some people need to have it on to keep them company, others to go to sleep, it is no different to smoking a joint or having a glass of wine. I’d say its worse than those two things in that context because you are not actively watching and learning but just going to sleep or filling your subconscious space with it. We all have different ways of looking at the world but I think a few glasses of wine every day is a hundred times better than a few hours of TV. For me it’s never a few hours but its eith reading, playing with cats or restoring bicycles 🙂

  5. Hi everybody! It’s Furby!

    I just need to clear something up because mama and my Godfather Michael have it all wrong. I wasn’t rescued. I DID the rescuing and I saved mama by finding her. I think the readers need to know that.

    I also have a webpage at http://www.furbyshouse.com/Furby.html cause I’m the world’s greatest cat writer!

  6. My late husband quit smoking after one day up in his homebuilt airplane, pulling some G’s, he actually could feel the crud in his lungs shifts. When a pilot experiences G forces it can be like extra gravity pushing you down in your seat or it can be like you are going up out of your seat, with the seat belt holding you in place. His body would stop moving as the seat belt restrained him, but the crud in his lungs just kept climbing. Gross. That would just about make anybody quit. He said he craved it though, for the rest of his life, if he smelled someone else smoking, he wanted one too. He said quitting smoking was much harder than quitting drinking.

    • Wow, that is tough story. It seems to say that if we can see or feel the damage we do to ourselves with drink, smoke or drugs we might stop. We need a wake up call in all things damaging.

  7. Nicotine is an alkaloid found in the nightshade family of plants (”Solanaceae”) which constitutes approximately 0.6–3.0% of dry weight of tobacco, with biosynthesis taking place in the roots, and accumulating in the leaves. It functions as an antiherbivore chemical with particular specificity to insects; therefore nicotine was widely used as an insecticide in the past, and currently nicotine analogs such as imidacloprid continue to be widely used.**^:

  8. Admiring the time and energy you put into your site and detailed information you present.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed information.
    Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.