Le mort du Smokey

Smokey's Last Day

We both took the Friday before Memorial Day off, so that we could properly mourn our boy cat Smokey. His fans from what used to be Bosley’s pet supply store will remember his chubby face and bad attitude from his formative years in that shop. He was placed in our home after he became extra bad (ripping into the cat food bags at night), and has been with us ever since.

A few years ago we tried to introduce another cat into the Smokey & Ginger and us family. It was a disaster. The cats never got along, with the new cat terrorizing the pair of them, and Smokey went into full territory protection mode, developing his urine spray muscles through over-use the way Arnold Schwarzenegger developed his deltoids. (Well, Smokey never used steroids, but go with me here…) We first noticed the problem when he began to target the toaster. Cindy’s pop-tarts were never the same afterwards. We threw away that first toaster and bought another, and he sprayed that one too. And most everything else. For three years we lived surrounded by a curtain of plastic, newspaper, and cardboard pizza boxes leaned up against any vertical surface in the dining room and kitchen. If a night went by when the pizza boxes weren’t protecting the microwave, there would be a cat autograph in the morning. We put up with this for three years.

Over one year ago, he developed chronic diarrhea. As he slowly began to lose weight, we realized that we were now in the end-times, and that we’d have to come to grips with having one less cat. We began to lock him in the downstairs bathroom at night, deciding that if he was going to spray at night, we might as well contain the problem. The most joyous times of his life were when we’d call to him from the bathroom to lavish on him the special attention that he came to expect before we’d close the door on him and go to our own sleeping areas. His second most joyful time was when I’d stop in the morning to visit him on my way to work. He was certainly enjoying his life, even though his body was wasting away.

We kept talking about when his time should be. Not now. Not yet. Not for Christmas. Not before our birthdays. Later, always later. We recognized that, while he was getting thinner, he was still a happy little cat (for a 15 pounder anyway), and that we would miss him terribly when it came time for him to go.

He got sicker, and time went on. The carpets, the furniture, the curtains, the walls, the television, the microwave, the sinks, the bookcases. All fell to the fire extinguisher effects of the mighty urine spray. And he lost more weight.

It was time. A difficult choice was made. We set the appointment and arranged to take the day off of work. The date in question was two weeks hence, and we dreaded the calendar’s inexorable progress. Time waits for no man, and apparently for no cat either.

The day arrived. We both got up early and spent as much time with him as we could. He was allowed to eat as many rose petals as he wanted, and he was dosed with generous quantities of catnip. We petted him and played with him, and indulged him, telling him that we loved him and that we were going to miss him in a language that we hoped that he could understand, even if he didn’t understand what was to happen.

The vet arrived at the house, and we talked to her about where we were at and where we had been and why we thought that it was his time. She mentioned some rather terrible sounding and invasive techniques that could be performed to try to determine what was physically wrong with the boy, and allowed us to think about our decision one last time. Cindy and I stepped into the other room and gave it our last consideration. We decided, and hugged, and came back and told the vet that we thought that it was time for us to let Smokey go. We got really sad.

The three of us got on the floor, petting and stroking the boy, cooing our little love sounds to him as the vet prepared and administered the injection. He passed so quietly that we really didn’t notice at all. The vet slipped out of the house as we began to cry.

I went into the bathroom and got one of the towels that we used for rough chores. Each of us dried our tears, and we used that towel to wrap the lifeless body up, a catnip pillow under his head. We placed his shrouded body into a largish box, and cried some more. Digging a hole in the back yard gave us something concrete and productive to do, allowing us to dwell on something other than the great unhappiness that we were experiencing. We put the box in the bottom, and scattered more rose petals on it as we filled in the hole. We tapped the soil to compact it, and then placed a series of boards on top to serve as a temporary monument. And he was gone.

As I write this, it’s now two weeks later. His sister still calls for him at night, but the house is getting back to normal, or as normal as can be with such a gaping hole in it. We cleaned up the yellow stained newspaper and cardboard from the dining room, and rediscovered access to the microwave and toaster. We had a long weekend to mourn his loss, and talked many times about how he was a treasure to us, as well as a gift with a terrible cost. One cannot love and lose without grief, and two weeks later, we still grieve.

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This document was last modified on June 11, 2004, and has been viewed countless times.