It was August 1999 and my family and I were on a trek to the ice cream shop a few blocks away, when we saw our neighbor in her yard playing with a kitten. We all thought it was cute, of course, and she asked us if we wanted a kitten. I promptly, but politely, declined. My husband said, “I’ll tell you what. If you have a calico, we’ll take it.” She told us to wait a minute and that she had another one that she knew we couldn’t say no to, and she went in the house. I think we were just trying to be polite by waiting to see what she had, but as soon as we saw the kitten, we were done for. That lady knew what she was doing for sure by bringing that one out for us to see. Of course the kids loved her. I have always been a cat person, so of course I loved her too, but I didn’t want the extra responsibility and cost of having a pet. So we all pet her and I think I said something like we’d think about it. As we continued to walk, slowly, while discussing it, it was clear we all knew we were going to take her home. So we turned around before even making it a couple of houses away, to go claim our kitty!
One of us wanted to name her Princess, one wanted to call her Smudge (due to a spot of orange on her head like a smudge of paint), and one wanted to call her Raspberry (the box we made a bed out of had the word raspberry on the side in big pink letters). We decided on Princess Smudge.
She was interesting. She was my kids’ first pet, and I hadn’t had any pets for many years. My husband had been a “dog person” since he was a kid. His family always owned dogs, but he quickly became a cat person. He is indeed a “crazy cat man” now!
Smudge would hide behind the toilet for the first couple days we had her, then she would explore a little more in days to come. I lost her once when I kept hearing her little meow, but could not see her anywhere. It turned out that she had gotten on top of one of the beams in the cellar and didn’t know how to get down!
Once she got older, she turned into what I would call a grumpy old lady, but before her time, as she wasn’t actually old. Through the years, the kids loved her, and she would often be the subject of drawings, paintings, little sculptures with salt clay and play-doh. When we got a guinea pig, named Daisy, Smudge would hang out on the table next to the cage, but more often would just lay on top of it watching the pig. She didn’t play an awful lot, and wouldn’t lay on our laps much, but she always wanted to be near us. She’d lay on the floor next to us, on the couch, or even on the table when my kids would be doing school work or whatever at the table.
When Sparks came along, Smudge wasn’t happy. She was princess/queen of the house for 12 years, then we brought Sparks in. He showed up after a flood, starved for attention, so we assumed he was a displaced cat due to the flood, and we decided to take him in. He was super happy to be welcomed in, but Smudge wasn’t happy. She showed him his place, and he complied. She didn’t have claws, but she would whack him hard with her paw. Smudge was able to hit so hard, it shocked my sister in law when she was at the receiving end of the “thunder paw,” as we liked to call it. 😀 Sparks just wanted to be with her, but it took her a long time to welcome him. They got along fine as long as he didn’t go near her too much. Sparks never laid on our laps when she was here, but started to soon after she was gone. Also, no other cat laid on the back of the chair where she always laid. Once, after Smudge died, Sammi laid on it, didn’t really settle in, then jumped off shortly after. No one else since then has gone up there, including her.
Smudge was a little less irritated when we brought Trixie in, perhaps because she got used to Sparks and she wasn’t an only cat anymore.
And then there was Sammi…
So she ended up not being a solo cat for the rest of her life. We never planned on the other cats coming in, our feelings about them and helping them evolved to what it is now.
Smudge ended up having kidney disease that we treated with medication for a short while, when we discovered she had a tumor in her mouth and she couldn’t eat or drink anymore. She was starving. 🙁 She was 17 years old in a weakened condition and the doctor said she might not even survive any surgery. We decided to put her to sleep. We didn’t want her to suffer anymore. We stayed right there with her to the end. She looked like she knew she was loved.