There’s A New Guy in Town: SmoJo

IMG_7912He couldn’t use one of his front paws at all. He had been abandoned by his owner, an owner who hadn’t done one single thing to protect him against disease or fix his lameness.

He had been lurking around our house all summer. Always skittish, always limping away, as quickly as he could, with his front left paw extended out in front of him.

He was beautiful, with dark gray fur and golden eyes. He had the biggest paws, with extra toes, the size of catcher’s mitts or snowshoes!

So, of course, I fed him.

We “met” this cat well before our new kitten came to live here. At first, we didn’t know if he belonged to someone or was a stray. All we knew was he was hurting and needed help.

He started out distrustful and very skittish. But he was utterly, utterly reliable about coming to be fed. Every morning about 5:30, every evening about 8:30, he’d be in the same spot on the driveway, just waiting.

It took a few days before I could get near him and a few more before I could touch him. Then he let me pet him.

One day, after he’d eaten and I petted him, he rolled over and let me rub his belly. Once we took that step forward, we started working on the next one. I picked him up one day. He looked at me like I was crazy, struggled a little, and then seemed to say, “Oh, okay.”

Another day, I moved his bowl into our front hall and he came in to eat, while I held the door open behind him. A few days later, I let the door close. He freaked and threw himself against the glass, and then seemed to say, “Oh, okay.”

We knew we wanted to keep him and get him to the vet and fix his foot. We took the fateful step of giving him a name, calling him “Smokey Joe.” Along the way, we learned that he had an owner, who was on the verge of eviction from his place down the road.

We predicted, and were right, sadly, that when the guy left, he’d leave SmoJo behind.

We waited. The guy moved out. He left this cat, as well as a kitten and a dog, behind.

As hateful as that was, so many people are truly good. All three animals had homes within a day.

We made arrangements with our vet and one morning, when Smokey came in to eat, I scooped him up and put him in the cat carrier. He panicked and threw himself against the sides and then seemed to say, “Oh, okay.”

Blood tests showed he was free of disease. A physical exam showed that his lameness was a result of an ingrown claw. He is polydactyl, with those extra toes, and one of the claws had grown sideways, deep into his flesh. The wound was abscessed and the infection was tenacious. The solution was declawing, basically amputating, that one toe.

IMG_3887Through it all he was gentle and stoic. He seemed to say, “Oh, okay.”

He recuperated and took antibiotics without fuss. He wore a plastic cone for a couple of weeks. He has been inside, this cat who lived outdoors and had the run of the world, without trying to get out, for 6 weeks now. We let him out yesterday, for the first time, and he didn’t venture out of our sight.

And he has become Gigi’s best friend. He came to live with us about a week after she did. Our other cats are aloof and rather frightened of them both and they have turned to each other.

They play rough.

The calm before the crazy

The calm before the crazy

Fun was had here . . .

Fun was had here . . .

They sleep curled together.

They make us laugh.

Smokey has reclaimed his lost kittenhood and plays long and hard. He loves a catnip hedgehog. And Gigi.

If a cat could feel such a thing, you’d swear he was grateful. Pet him, and he flings himself at your feet, and turns his belly up for a rub.

We’ve told him he is with us for good, that he doesn’t have to worry about being hungry or cold, or living in pain.

He looks at us with those big eyes of deepest gold, and seems to say, “Oh, okay. And thanks.”IMG_8406

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74 thoughts on “There’s A New Guy in Town: SmoJo

    • I hope your cats become friends, too! I think it’s easier and faster when one is a kitten–our older cats are having more trouble adjusting to the new two. But even my 16-year-old is slowly coming around!

  1. You got me crying again! Bug they’re tears of joy! What are wonderful story. So glad you all found each other! Smojo looks like my Graycie. Are Gigi and Smojo playing with a mouse on your tablet? That’s what it looks like in one of your photos. All wonderful pnotos….again! Thanks so much for this happy story.

    • I thought Smokey and Graycie must look a lot alike–beautiful grays! And, yes, it’s an app a friend had on his iPad–a mouse that scurries randomly on the screen and, if a cat puts a paw on it, it squeaks. They were enthralled!

  2. Oh Kerry, Smokey is quite a handsome gentleman and a wonderful friend for Gigi. I love that you took care of him and helped him along and now he is one of the kitties that live comfortably with you. I do think strays and rescue animals understand that life turned around for the better. I love that you have a big and kind heart and take such good care of our four legged friends. The love a companion animal gives you is so true! Thank you for the most wonderful post!!

    • It’s very hard to see an animal in distress and this guy was so sweet, even though he must’ve been in a lot of pain. I just really wanted to have him taken care of! He actually made it easy and didn’t even flinch when the vet pulled the claw out of the wound! Seeing him walk normally on that paw is a huge reward!

  3. So much kitty cuteness. Adorable. I love the way cats know where to go when they need a friend. My cat who arrived on our doorstep one cold wet night about 10 years ago disappeared a few weeks ago. She was very old and frail, and I think she went off to die. She came and she went on her own terms, but I do miss her little presence, and I wish I could have said goodbye.

  4. Oh I just love all your photos, what a beauty and what a fantastic friendship. Thanks from me too for taking him in!

    We’re up to 6 cats now. My mum couldn’t get a handle on keeping those two abandoned girls she found this summer, her stupid little dog thought they were his toys. So a week ago, they came to us instead. There is still much suspicion from our 4 huge boys, mostly they just stay out of the way of these tiny, dainty little creatures aka the ninjas. One of them reminds me so much of one of our other rescues who unfortunately died at 8 from kidney failure.

    • We have ranged between 5 and a high of 9 cats over the past 15 years or so. It seems that, when we lose one, another comes along before too long. It has its rough moments–as you say, the older cats get undone by the new and there’s always some drama–but I love them all and am always fascinated by how different they are, with such distinct personalities.

  5. Such a beautiful story. I love cats! I don’t like to see hungry animals. I seem to attract feral cats which are hard to get close to. After feeding a calico for ten years, I can now brush and pet her.

    • That’s good progress with the calico–they are notoriously feisty, even when not feral! There’s a group in our area that devotes its energy to helping ferals. They capture, spay/neuter, give rabies shots, and, when possible, socialize them and find them homes. If socializing isn’t possible, they release back where they were living and at least the cats won’t be having dozens more kittens! Our Gigi’s mother was feral and all her 7 kittens have homes now.

    • They are a funny, funny pair! They chase each other around the room–first Smokey chases Gigi and then the tables turn and Gigi chases Smokey! I just sit and watch and laugh!

  6. Wonderful story and I have a similar one! I do think cats know if you’ve saved them and are grateful… I worked on a sheep farm for a few years and rescued a barn kitten. Most of her siblings had died or were killed but she hung around, absolutely emaciated. One day I noticed one eye was completely red! I asked the owner what had happened and she said she thought one of the dogs went to eat her cat food and she was “in the way”! That was it for me! I asked if I could take her and brought her home in a box. She clawed her way out and snuggled in my arms the rest of the way home – this kitten who was incredibly difficult to catch and so wild and would never let me pet her before! I kept her in the garage on a heater pad to see if she would live, so thin she was. When she started gaining weight and started to play, I took her to the vet for her shots. She was always MY cat and slept on my chest or in my arms at night! We discovered some years later that she also had a broken pelvis… I cannot stand people who have pets and do not or cannot care for them. Hugs to the kitties…

    • Oh, what a story about the kitty you saved! Lucky, lucky cat! I’ve never met a cat I didn’t like but there is something special about the ones whose life you know you saved . . .

  7. Kerry, your a dear!! And SmoJo is a handsome fella! I can’t for the life of me figure out why people if they can’t take care of an animal ….just find another home for it?! We have a Rottie that found us. She was starving to death ,not able to hardly move when we found her. That is such a terrible thing for anything to go though!!

    • He is handsome, isn’t he?! Even when he was in pain and abandoned, he was clean and beautiful. Your dog is a very lucky girl–how can people walk away from animals like that? Pure evil, I say.

    • You’re right! Some people don’t deserve pets or children or anything that needs to be taken care of! Gigi and Smokey are having lots of fun now and they both seem very happy!

  8. I saw the title in my email this morning and came right over. [I already knew it would be a cat]. Reading your story flings the heart wide open as I read how another beaten animal successfully gains entry into their new chosen home – I love how animals know where to go! Maine Coons can be polydactyl and so I wonder if he is part MC? Seeing SmoJo [love that diminutive!] playing with Gigi is quite wonderful. You know he has to be feeling safe and healthy once more and that is all our animals ever ask of us. A beautifully told story – thank you Kerry ❤

    • Our vet hasn’t said anything about him being Maine coon–one of our other cats is, I think. You should see the size of Smokey’s paws–HUGE! At this point, he is so convinced this is his home that he hesitates when I offer to let him go outside. I was out with him yesterday, and he didn’t leave my side.

  9. I love the picture where one of his eyes is closed and the other is rolled over toward Gigi, like “What have I gotten into here?” It’s the look that BIll Watterson captured so well in Calvin and Hobbes.

    • It is pure serendipity that these two have each other! The other cats are not embracing the new two so it’s very good they have each other as friends. And what friends!!

  10. Aww Kerry reading this account has brought tears to my eyes – so glad Smokey Joe has found such a lovely home and kind owners! How wonderful that he and Gigi have found companionship too. I deplore people who can treat animals as cruelly as Joe’s previous owner – it makes me shudder. Joe certainly knew where to go to though – animals do seem to have a knack of knowing who has their best interests at heart! We have always had pets come to us – we have never gone out to “buy” a pet! They find us! At present we have an adorable nearly 5 year old schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle cross) unwanted by his previous “owner” who had him for 1 day and panicked (we got him at 11 weeks) and an almost 2 year old white cat with grey tabby markings who came via a friend of our daughter’s (a rescue kitten from the cat haven). Our daughter and her family have also adopted a beautiful brown staffy cross who literally turned up on their doorstep and wouldn’t leave (despite an extensive search no one claimed here so they went through the formal adoption process with the local dog pound). Lovely photos of your beautiful cats! 🙂

    • You’re doing your part to rescue pets, too! It’s so sad that so many animals are unwanted–but then I have to remind myself that there are lots of people like us–ready to step up, as much as we can, and provide love.

      • They give us so much back too – it’s so uplifting to read a story like yours! Both my pets are sitting near me warming themselves up by the wood fire as I type this 😃

    • We fit together very nicely . . . even though we’re having some rough moments of older cats not accepting new. But every day gets better and past experience tells me it’s only a matter of time until they all calm down.

  11. Oh, my godfathers, Kerry, I wish I could sew a pair of angelic wings on your right now. You are a remarkable human being with a heart the size of a planet. SmoJo truly found a beautiful home and a wonderful new family. The story was the most touching and heartwarming thing I’ve read all year. You really should get a big badge to wear for this one.
    I’m so hoping karma is a real thing.
    *squish*

  12. Such a beautiful face. You can tell he knows he is safe and loved now. I’m glad he and Gigi have each other–and the photo of the toys behind the furniture made me laugh, mainly because I am so familiar with that site. Congratulations on such a success story and I’m glad the lameness was treatable.

    • The lameness had me worried and I still worry that there could be an infection lurking in the bone. But he climbed part way up a tree yesterday–he couldn’t’ve done that a month ago!

  13. Love this post! What a heartwarming tale you’ve shared with us, Kerry. The pictures are darling and I’m sure he is grateful – as is Gigi, to have a companion. You’ve done a very good thing, Kerry.

  14. You are such wonderful people for taking Smokey in! (as are the others who took in the other kitty and dog!)
    I love his story and how happy he is with his new sisfur 🙂 I just adore the photos of them sleeping together!

    • I had to get another cat. You’re being away left such a void in my world, I needed to fill it! 😉 But, yes, doesn’t he look like the Walker boys’ cat? That will predispose you to love him–>but don’t tell Charley . . .

  15. Pingback: Finally, A Finish | Love Those "Hands at Home"

  16. Oh Kerry, I feel so many emotions after reading this post. The whole story fills me with joy and with so much sadness at the same time for all the neglected cats out there who need help. There is something so special about cats who have known hardship. They do not ever stray far away again and they do seem so pleased to be loved. My cat, Otto found me in exactly the same way. These cats are a very special gift.
    The photographs of the two cats together are wonderful. I am so glad that Smojo is no longer in pain and now has a life full of love and kindness.
    I love them both, they are GORGEOUS!

    • They *are* gorgeous and our house is livelier and more fun because they’re here. I know we did the right thing for Smokey–he is SUCH a fine cat and so sweet and gentle. He is getting fat, however . . . I guess, from a life of hunger, he feels the need to eat all the food he can get hold of!

      • I am so happy for you all. It is a little miracle that the two cats just took to each other so well. They cuddle up like brother and sister.

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