Our Cats: Sammy and Smoky
Sammy and Smoky
In about 1990, my brother and sister-in-law took in a cat who turned out to be an expectant mama. The kittens were born at their house in Round Rock. Those kittens were such cute little things. (Has anyone ever seen a kitten that wasn't cute?)
Homes for the kittens were hard to find. Pat and Darla found themselves moving out of state for his job with the mama cat and two half-grown kittens left. They were able to find a home for the queen, but still had the two kittens. I jumped in and said Lou and I would take them (over Lou's objection but I used wife's prerogative and overruled him.)
We called the beautiful, fluffy black and white one Sammy, The Russian Blue looking kitten was named Smoky. That was because my little nephew, Bradley, kept calling the grey one "Onk" and they finally decided he was trying to say Smoke, hence the name.
We already had a sibling pair named Missy and Willie who were born to a cat we took in called Spot. She was black and white spotted. It was also a twist on a dog name because she loved my miniature Poodle, Tache, which is Spot in French.
Not long after we got Sammy & Smoky, we moved out of the city limits to a house at Hammett's Crossing near the Pedernales River, west of Austin. (Local people pronounce that PER-din-AL-les.)The boys were there with our other cats, Tigger, Spot, Fuzzybutt/Bubba, Missy, Willie, Fancy, Blaise, Angel and another cat whose name I can't remember, but I think it might have been Precious. The addition of the two brothers made 11, that I do remember.
It was a good thing we were out in the country! All the cats loved being in & out on three or more acres to hunt, play and lie in the sun. They even shared their food peacefully with the raccoons who lived out there.
Fortunately, althought they were all allowed to go outside, only Willie disappeared shortly after we moved out there. We checked back at the old house, in case she might have gone back but we never found her. We missed her terribly.
The cats all loved the high places to lie out in the sun, the trees to climb and the mice and other small things to hunt. Sometimes if I took Tsin'tia and Quanah out for a walk, I'd look back and see all the cats strung out in a line, following us.
There was a pile of exterior building-type rocks at the edge of the defined back yard (really kind of a side yard if you look from the front of the house.) Most of the cats liked to sit up there in the sun from time to time. Cats love to get up on a higher perch to oversee their domain.
In late 1992, Lou's step-father, Cecil passed away unexpectedly. His mother was left to fend for herself on a couple hundred acres with cows and all the attendant chores in Southeast Oklahoma. Lou being her only surviving child, we said we would move up there and help her so she wouldn't have to move someplace strange to live. She was diabetic, overweight, not too mobile and we thought it would be better for her to stay where her familiar doctors were.
When we went to Caddo OK to help Lou's mom out , we had the boys with us but they were still young. None of the cats were allowed outside but Bubba and he only when we could be with him. Her dog, Pancho, had killed cats. He killed our Precious when she accidentally got out. None of the cats had much fun the nine months we were in Caddo. By the time we got back to Texas, Sammy and Smokey were full grown and neutered. They were both big, beautiful cats.
In Round Rock, we let them go outside as we lived on a cul-de-sac of a sort, which backed up to an empty lot when we got there in 1993. A couple of years later, the local Episcopal church built on the empty lot behind us. Lou used to say he would go back to church when God put one next door... no he didn't go. He said God didn't put a gate in for him. Some days I don't stand next to Lou if there is a chance of thunderstorms.
The boys always stayed close to home. They helped in the care and training of Candi, our little kitten the kids next door found in the street. She was a Torti Tabby. They were in the ring of our male cats who caught a mouse or vole for Candi, put it in the back yard for her to hunt and laid around the fences watching her try to catch it. She accidentally let the critter get away & the boys all got up, gave her a disgusted look and went out looking for another one.
Sammy was my beautiful boy. I loved him so much! He was so pretty and so loving! His fur was so silky and beautiful. Smokey was beautiful but not as affectionate as Sammy. I could hold up the kitty brush and say, "Brush, Sammy!" and he would come running to be brushed. He was just a beautiful cat with long, lovely black and white hair and the sweetest cat face you ever saw.
Sammy and Smokey both loved our dogs, Tsin'tia I and Quanah. They would curl up with the dogs to nap anytime. Sammy and Fuzzy Butt would lie on the ledge outside the kitchen window and nap. The kitty door was in that window so they could go in and out any time.
The boys and Fuzzy Butt (who Lou insisted on calling Bubba) were proficient hunters, too. They brought all kinds of stuff in the house. Zorro was also their hunting buddy. I took lizards, snakes (little ones) mice of all kinds, birds and even a full grown dove once, back out of the house, if it was still alive.
When we moved to Red Oak, Texas in 1998, the boys adapted well to being on our 1.5 acre place, which was about 25 miles South of downtown Dallas, where I worked. We lived in a manufactured home (yes, a "double-wide") and we moved our kitty door from Round Rock to Red Oak. The cats were all able to go outside from the master suite bathroom window there. I called them all back in at night by giving them a treat and then closing the kitty door when all were in. I never had any trouble calling Sammy back in and Smokey and Zorro would eventually come in, too.
At first I was there without Lou as we waited to move everything. One evening our friend, Carol, and I were sitting on the futon watching TV. The futon frame was a little rickety, not having been made correctly on the points where the frame shifted from up to down. Without any warning, the whole thing collapsed. I panicked as I knew Sammy had been under the futon. Carol and I frantically lifted the thing looking for Sammy and fearing the worst. He wasn't under there! A few seconds later he meowed at us from across the room. I swear he must have teleported over there as I can't believe he was that fast on his feet.
While we were in Red Oak (Home of Boxcar Willie Overpass on I 20,) Smokey developed an ear hematoma. The upstanding part of his ear filled with fluid and swelled up. This can happen in cats or dogs when, usually after violent head shaking, the two sides of the ear leather separate & fill with blood or fluid. If left untreated the ear will eventually shrivel up into "cauliflower ear." It's not attractive so in many dogs the earflap is surgically penetrated, fluid drained and a "mattress stitch" put in which holds the two layers of the ear together. A drain in the bottom of the ear lets additional fluid drain out of the ear so it can heal flat again.
We treated Smokey for the ear infection and kept him in a large dog crate in the bedroom while it healed, but he did get the shriveled ear. He was very good about staying in the crate for two weeks. I was surprised how good he was about it.
In 2003, we were going out to eat one night when I noticed Sammy lying down a couple of feet from the van but not close enough to be in danger. It puzzled me but cats are odd creatures so I didn't think too much about it. However when we returned, he was still lying in the same position in the same spot. That did worry me. I went out & tried to get him to move. He wouldn't & when I tried to get him to stand up, I realized his rear end and hind feet weren't moving. I snatched him up (carefully) and rushed him about 30 miles to the best Emergency clinic in the area, on183 in Irving. They took him back and performed tests and came back with very bad news.
Sammy, my beautiful Sammy, had suffered a blood clot which cut off the flow of blood to his rear end. They said they could try to treat it but it would be very expensive and unlikely to help. I had to make the decision to have my sweet boy put to sleep. It was one of my saddest days ever. I brought his little body home in a special box they had, and the next morning we buried him in the Northeast corner of our yard in Red Oak. He rests there alongside Tigger, our sweet baby we had found in Austin so many years before.
Smokey moved with us back to the Austin area and had several more good years before he passed away in about 2007. We loved our boys and we were sad that neither of them was still with us. Their memories still live on and their lives are honored by the cats we have taken in since that time.