Smokey’s Collar

Smokey the cat adopted us in January. It all started on a cold, horribly wet evening when we saw her soaking wet sitting on our steps outside… we knocked on her owner’s door (she lives three houses over), and nobody was home, so we let her come dry out in our house. We didn’t feed her or anything, we just let her hang out and then in the morning when it stopped raining, out she went. And she kept coming over and slipping in the door between our feet whenever we grabbed the paper in the morning or came home from work. Turns out they had a new kitten who was messing with Smokey’s favorite spots, so she liked our house better. More peaceful.

Then we found out she had feline leukemia, which can be transmitted to other cats if they share a feed bowl, so we offered to take care of Smokey, and her owner accepted, with the stipulation that she could come visit… And within no time, that cat had us trained to let her out our bedroom window in the middle of the night, put her in the bathtub to drink, and every time we opened a can of salmon, she’d come tearing in the kitchen and start begging like a dog. She also loved to sit beside us at dinnertime, just hanging out, never whining or trying to steal our food. I think she thought she was human.

In the last few weeks, Smokey started to lose interest in food, until she wasn’t eating at all. We tried enticing her with fresh salmon, beef, scallops, fancy cat food… anything, but to no avail. And she started hanging out in the darkness under the bed and would increasingly refuse to come out. We all knew she was well on her way to kitty heaven. So her owner made the difficult decision to put her down on Tuesday night. Smokey died surrounded by two families who loved her very much, and was laid to rest in our garden.

Anybody’s who’s spent any amount of time on our street probably knows Smokey by name. Elementary school kids loved to stop and pet her on their way to the school at the end of the block.

I have several scars on the back of my left shoulder from her claws… she’d always dig her claws in (and my skin scars extraordinarily easily… my husband actually banned me from picking her up for a few months before our wedding because he thought that scars + strapless dresses + photos = bad. I said that’s what Photoshop was for. And then I only picked her up when he wasn’t looking.) I wonder if I’ll still be able to see the scratch marks in 30 years.

And so, this last photo of Smokey goes into the box, along with her collar (if I get her owner’s permission to keep it… if not, this picture will have to do.)



  1. Shandi

    Oh sweetie, this broke my heart. Smokie was such a great cat and it was impossible not to love her. I’m so sad that she’s gone but she was much loved and I know she loved every minute with you and Nathan.

  2. Lucia

    The photo of Smokey’s collar just absolutely shattered me. What a lovely way to remember such an amazing living being. Sometimes I thought when she looked at me that she wanted to say something, you know? We shall never forget her.

  3. Barb C.

    We lost our dog last Feb. in a similar way….chronic, terminal…but still trying until no more eating no more drinking. I still remember his eyes as he left us. And wait for his friendly greeting each time we open the front door. Still. His boisterous,happy spirit is forever etched in dark claw marks on our front stairs, and I see him sometimes bounding up, 2 at a time! Long live creatures that give us such comfort in this world.

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