Smokey: My Personal Guardian Angel

Smokey: My Personal Guardian Angel

by Joyce Sammons
(Hodges, SC, USA)

Laura and Smokey and Smokey in her tree

Laura and Smokey and Smokey in her tree

I still remember the day Smokey came into my life in 1981. Our property line had an old barbed wire fence around three sides and Smokey was on the other side of the fence at the back of my yard.

It had snowed the night before and I was outside enjoying the scenery when I heard this pitiful little meow. I tried to coax her to climb the fence or come thru the wire but she was too weak. I reached my hands thru the fence and brought her up until she cleared the top of the fence. I later learned she belonged to a neighbor whose cat had kittens and they didn't want her back.

smokey feral cat in the grass
Smokey -- Photo by Joyce Sammons.

She was my first cat since childhood when mama announced NO MORE CATS because they all eventually found their way to the road. I took her in and the only thing I found she would eat was popcorn and cornflakes. I named her Smokey because of her beautiful gray coat. She had beautiful green eyes that followed my every move. She was an indoor/outdoor cat and always stayed in at night.

There was a neighborhood bully cat who kept trying to fight with her. Some days I ran him off 2 or 3 times. One night Smokey didn't come inside when I called her. She was laying under the oak tree in the front yard but she wouldn't get up. I carried her inside and laid her on the couch. She attempted to walk and just couldn't.

Smokey a feral cat that was looked after and tamed by Joyce Sammons - photo Joyce Sammons
Smokey -- Photo by Joyce Sammons.

I remember it was a Sunday night and in those days there were no 24 hour vets. I called her vet. Dr. Jamison was very old at the time and been practicing for many years. He came to his clinic at 11p.m. and examined Smokey. Then he gave us the bad news. Smokey had suffered a lower abdomen injury. I never knew if the neighborhood bully fought with her or if she fell out of a tree.

Dr. Jamison said she may regain use of her back legs or she could remain paralyzed. I took her home and made her a bed in the floor of the living room. I placed her food and water within reach and the litterbox nearby. Then I waited.

For the first day all she could do was pull herself to her food and water. The second day she managed to stand long enough to go to the litter box. After that it was a slow healing process and eventually she regained full use of her legs. She was back to climbing trees and chasing rats. By this time I was 7 months pregnant with my daughter Laura.

It was a daily routine for me to walk down the driveway to visit mama. One morning I woke up to snow on the ground. Or should I say snow and ice. We seldom get all snow. Just a dangerous situation that is pretty to look out but deadly to drive or walk on.

I let Smokey out ahead of me and she stopped on the bottom step. I told her to move and she looked at me with those beautiful green eyes and stood her ground. She didn't want me to go down those steps. They didn't LOOK icy. At least not icy enough to cause any problems. I had on my good boots that were slip resistant.

When she finally moved I began a careful descent down the steps. I held onto the doorknob for balance. Both of my feet went out from under me when I reached the second step. I was left holding onto the doorknob and swinging out over the steps. Eventually I was able to drop the 6 inches to the ground without any injury but it could have been a lot worse. Smokey tried to keep me from going down those steps and I didn't listen.

Smokey saved me again 2 months later. I was due for delivery in less than a week. I was in my home and ready to go down to mama's for a short visit. By this time I was so large it hurt to walk. Smokey just sat at my bedroom door and refused to move. I told her we were going to mama's and she could play outside while I was there. Still she sat-just like one of those Egyptian cat statues. I reached down to pick her up and then it happened.

I got dizzy. Really dizzy. I've picked her up many times and never felt this way. The feeling went away and I went on down to mama's and told her what had happened. It totally freaked her out. She had miscarried twice and was very overprotective of me. She insisted on calling the doctor and I argued that I was all right. The doctor ordered me in immediately.

As it turned out my amniotic fluid was leaking and I was actually in labor and didn't know it. Twelve hours later I delivered a healthy baby girl. My Laura. My pregnancy had been dangerous enough for the doctor to insist I not have more children. Smokey and mama saved my life and the life of my child.

I had Smokey for several years. Then I let her out one morning before I went to mama's. She called me on the phone before I had a chance to get Laura dressed and go for my daily visit. She asked me where Smokey was and I told her I'd just let her out. She told me a dead cat was in the road 2 houses down. She had watched Smokey go over the fence a few minutes earlier. It was her.

I carried Smokey back home and we buried her under her favorite tree. Now I knew why mama felt the way she did about cats. If they live outdoors the road eventually claims them. Smokey was an outdoor cat when I found her and impossible to keep in all of the time. I feel I gave her a good life and a warm lap and bed to sleep in. She will always be missed.

Joyce

Smokey: My Personal Guardian Angel to Feral Cats

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Smokey: My Personal Guardian Angel

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Feb 28, 2012 smokey was blessed and was a blessing
by: Donna

Nice story, animals know who they can trust. You took a unwanted cat and extended its life by many years. You were a blessing to it. God said, "what u do for the least; you do for me." I think u saved the cat twice. It probably was hit by a car when it had its abdominal injury. You loved it and went out of your way to take care of it. "Treat others as u wish to be treated." The vet DIDN'T need to sacrifice his time at 11pm, so maybe it was just a Godsend. Thankyou


Jan 19, 2010 sad stories
by: kathy

Joyce I like all your stories however I tend to get a little angry at some of them because youd think by now you would know the dangers of letting your cats outside even though they are outside cats and like the outdoors. I realize most of these are feral cats but just think of how many of them would still be alive if you made them live inside. I believe you probaly live in a rural area where you probaly believe they are safe outside. However if I counted how many of your stories have tragic endings and make me cry, I really dont like the statistics. I especially was saddened at the one where the cat was in your car engine. I believe you are helping some of these cats, but I almost beleive some of them would have been better off if they stayed away from you. I realize I am in a bad mood today but almost all of your stories have sad or tragic endings.


Jan 11, 2010 Very Evocative of a Bye Gone Time
by: Michael

I find Joyces photographs very evocative and actually quite sad.

They were made with film (yes the stuff that came in a cassette). In Joyce's case it was 35mm colour film. And when this is converted to digital is has a different quality that I personally like.

OK, the colours are less true etc. etc. but the feel of the photo is great for me and this one of Smokey on the grass reminds me of that well known painting by the American artist of a young girl in the long grass looking at her home. It is very sad, very real and true painting. I have forgotten the artist.

I find this picture of Smokey sad because he is gone and he looks so fine here. The old fashioned nature of the photo chimes with his passing.


Jan 09, 2010 Smokey looks like my Charcoal !
by: Kori

I have a beautiful cat that was brought to me by my son when they went on a camping trip in high school.This little grey, stray kitten followed him the whole time he was at the campground, so he brought him home.Charcoal is now a 6 yr. old adult.He seems more human than cat.He's an outside/inside cat and I fear the road each time I let him out.But thankfully, so far, he's always made his way home.He's trained a second kitten to come home.He's very loving and devoted.His coat is so soft and silky.I've never had a cat with a personality like his.When he wants something, he'll tap me on the leg and lead me either to the sink for a drink, or the bowl to be fed, or to the door to be let out. He sleeps with me in the recliner or in the bed, along with our second cat.He is looking for my husband that passed away Dec. 6, 2009.He loved my husband and my husband loved this cat!I know it confusing to Charcoal that Dad isn't here.Our cats are members of the family.They are spoiled and pampered and loved.But I still know they have to be a cat to be happy.I allow that.I still fear the road.


Jan 09, 2010 Smokey
by: Jan Plant

How wonderful you to share this touching story with us.Smokey was definitely a special cat.And beautiful.Thank you for sharing the photos as well.I love the one with your daughter and Smokey.What a wonderful memory.


Jan 09, 2010 Love the photo
by: Michael

I really like the photo of Smokey on the grass. It has a gorgeous old fashioned look, very evocative of a different age from the modern clinical, digital one.

Sorry about Smokey.


Jan 09, 2010 A one off!
by: Everycat

Smokey was a one off, a special and dear cat. I'm so glad that you gave Smokey such a loving and caring home. I'm sorry he was lost to the road, but I think Smokey had a great life with you and your family. Freedom is as important to cats as it is to humans.

Jane



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