by Joyce Sammons
(Hodges, SC, USA)
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.
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.
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.
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