It was July 16, 1991. After YEARS of begging for a kitty, my brother’s and my quest was finally complete.
“We want that one!” we shouted, pointing to the runt of the litter who had just stumbled into the water dish. Smudge Tret was so dubbed on the ride home. He quickly won us over, despite his less-than-winsome personality. We blame his anger issues on my mother, who used to tease him endlessly until he would attack her, all claws and teeth. I can’t even tell you how many times my hands ended up looking like shredded ribbons.
Smudge had many foes and few friends. But he was the smartest cat I ever met. He took commands. “Night night,” we’d say, and he would trot down to the basement for the evening (or hide under the kitchen table until we got close enough to swat him out from under—he always thought he was pretty tricky with that one). “Get down,” and he would jump off the counter, chair, or whatever other elevated area he wasn’t supposed to be on. “No, Smudge” said in the right tone caused him to pause whatever he was doing, utter a low growl, but then obey. Mom even trained him not to go on the new couch these past few years. And the time or two she did catch him on it—boy, did he have a guilty look!
Smudge had to be put down this morning. I called my mom on her lunch break, and she was sobbing. He had begun to leave drool spots when he would lie somewhere just last week, and then last night he started bleeding from the mouth. A visit to the vet this morning brought the sad news that he had a large internal tumor under his jaw and there wasn’t much they could do.
I’d like to end with some pleasant (and some humorous, but not so pleasant) memories of my kitty:
- He was so small when he came home with us that he could go into a Kleenex box and hide around the corner, completely unseen.
- He used to attack the backs of our knees as we walked away.
- He had a favorite spot on the back of Mom’s recliner. He ruined the back of two recliners with his fatness and fur.
- He also loved to sit on the back of the piano while I practiced (see photo).
- I crocheted a harness for him when I was about 12, and we used to try to take him for walks. Most cats don’t like walks; Smudge was no exception.
- We tied him to our front fence once with that harness, and he jumped off the edge and hung himself. Thankfully Mom was on hand to rescue him.
- He hated going to the vet. Whenever he would get put in his carrier and loaded into the car, that little guy would try everything he could to escape. Mom said even today he tried to, though he was feeling so crummy.
- He would wait on a little ledge by the door until we came in, and then expect some love. Usually within a minute or two, he would get angry and bite.
- Though he was neutered, we caught him time after time making nice with an afghan. And then with a different one. Gross. I guess all those lessons about chastity and faithfulness didn’t take.
- He tried to squeeze into any sort of box that was available. We derived immense pleasure out of putting smaller and smaller boxes in front of him to tempt him. The smallest I remember him trying was a VHS tape box. He obviously didn’t quite fit.
- When we would leave our coats on the floor, he would crawl in and “wear” them (see photo). To see his little head poking out the hole was quite funny. One time he got his body stuck in the sleeve of my letterman’s jacket with his face poking out the arm hole. “Cat”erpillar…that’s what he looked like.
- We did complete dissection of cats in my Senior Biology class, and my friends named their cat after Smudge. I was mad, but it was illustrative of his reputation.
- Even though he was de-clawed in the front, he once caught a bird. He came trotting over to the front of the house to show it off, and it flew out of his mouth.
- My grandmother hated Smudge most of his days, but in the past few years they became “buddies.” He was the only cat she liked.
- Same with Dad…he and Smudge were mostly enemies (though you could tell Smudge feared/respected my dad), but when Dad got sick and spent a lot of time laying down, Smudge was always there to be a comforter.
Ah, Smudge…mean and quirky as you were, you will be missed.