Smokey my loving pet.

First Posted - Sept 28, 20012 By: Terry Steeper
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16 years of unconditional love and affection.

A few fond memories during my time with Smokey.

August, 1996
I remember bringing Smokey home from Gloria's barn. He was so small that he could curl up in my hands.
He was just so lively and so affectionate, barely 2 months old.

June 07, 1998
Having fun outside my shop playing with a Kinder egg prize container.
I had just bought a little digital camera and had to try it out.

Smokey My Cat
June 07, 1998
King came over to see what smokey was doing, but Smokey chased him away.

Smokey My Cat
June 15, 1998
"I have this dog so scared he is covering his eyes hoping I won't see him."

Smokey My Cat
June 17, 1998
"This darn dog can be such a pest sometimes. I may have to chase him away again."

Smokey My Cat
June 17, 1998
Pacing around the office, telling me he wants to go outside. Again...

Smokey My Cat
August 02, 1999 2:14 PM
"I am helping fix one of those darn Windows machines again..."

Smokey My Cat
August 02, 1999 2:25 PM
I guess I worked him so hard that he needed a nap.

Smokey My Cat
September 25, 1999 5:10 PM
Smokey just loved to crawl down inside the bags of shredded paper. You had to be careful if playing with him in there though, his claws were quite sharp. I used to call him "Shredder" once in a while. If I left a paper towel, or one of the blue shop towels out on the bench or anywhere else he could get to it, he would sit and hold it in his front paws and keep biting it and pulling away pieces until it would be completely shredded to little bits.

Smokey My Cat
January 5, 2000 7:30 PM
Holding the shelf down while watching my human servant work.

Smokey My Cat
August 13, 2001 8:47 PM
Impatiently waiting to be let back inside the shop.

Smokey My Cat
January 17, 2002 7:40 PM
Snooping around while in the house for a visit with Sasha.

Smokey My Cat
March 15, 2003
Why do they call this a Bird Feeder, I don't see any birds that I can feed on?
(The Big chain he is on is just plastic.)

Smokey My Cat
June 9, 2003 10:40 AM
Smokey had a knack for finding odd places to sit.

Smokey My Cat
June 9, 2003 12:00 PM
After I removed the rest of the items from this shelf for him, he was still sound asleep almost an hour and a half later.

Smokey My Cat
January 22, 2004 2:33 AM
"Of course I am in the Boss's chair, after all, I am the boss."

Smokey My Cat
December 26, 2004 1:00 PM
He was in such a loving mood after my not being in the shop for the whole day previous. He insisted I sit back on the chair so he could lay on me and work his claws. Note the paperweight on the desk in the upper left corner of the picture. Certainly one of his most cherished positions in my shop.

Smokey My Cat
February 4, 2005 12:00 PM
Catching up on some sleep on the spare chair in the office.

Smokey My Cat
December 30, 2005 12:05 AM
I know that if I set here between you and the screen you will have to pay me some attention.

November, 2006

After I bought a house in Parkhill (Well OK the bank bought it for me with a promise for me to pay them back eventually), I spent most of October helping with renovations ready to move in. I was only out at my shop for an hour or so at a time (almost every day though) during the month of October. Smokey was very lonely during this time and was very affectionate when I was at the shop.

After we moved into the house on November 3rd, I took Smokey in to the house a few times, but he always meowed at the door wanting to go back to his shop. Whenever I was ready to go back to the shop, I just had to say "Are you coming?" and Smokey would come running. This occurred several times until one Friday in early December. I brought him home again for a visit with Sasha (my Mom's cat). Before long, he meowed at the door to leave, but I would go pick him up and pet him to try to get him to stay with me. He went to the door many more times wanting to go back to the shop. Finally when I decided to go to bed, I took him into bed with me where he laid on top of me and I kept petting him until he settled in. He curled up beside me on the bed after a while and was still there in the morning.

Saturday he found places to sit and be comfy, but always near me and kept an eye on me much of the time. Much the same for Sunday as well. On Monday morning I was heading back to the shop to do some work. I went to the door (and Smokey was following me). When I started opening the door and said "Are You Coming?" he turned and went the other way, back towards my bedroom. He has stayed at the house ever since, never going back to the shop.

Smokey decided that even though the shop may have been his home for 10 years, he knew he had found a better place where I was there much more often than I was at the workshop (especially lately). He could even sleep with me or near me at night which he had never been able to do in my shop. He had always slept alone in his bed right at the front window of my shop where he would see me coming out from the house every morning. At the new place, even when I wasn't there, there Sasha was there and sometimes even another human (my Mom) was there too.

Smokey My Cat
November 7, 2007 4:00 PM
Smokey's favourite daytime spot in the house was sitting on the back of the couch looking out the window to see anyone walking by, and to watch for me to return home when I was out. Smokey was saying "Sasha I like you too." this time, although they would often "fight" for the centre position on the back of the couch.

Smokey My Cat
January 3, 2008 2:42 PM
Smokey's most favorite indoor spot was his old bed from the shop. His bed used to sit in the corner by the window at the entrance door where he could always watch for anyone coming in. I put his bed up on the back of my desk since he liked to hop up there to sit and look out the window anyway. I figured it was like the shop then, with his bed right by a window. Here he is sharing it with Sasha (not a really common situation).

Smokey My Cat
June 4, 2008 11:00 AM
We brought a bit of catnip in from the flowerbed, Smokey sure enjoyed it. This catnip was growing right where he is now buried. In his memory we will continue to grow catnip there.

Smokey My Cat
August 30, 2008 9:30 AM
Smokey says, "It's bad enough that I have to be on this run in the backyard, but then you stick these decorations in my flowerbed that the line gets caught on. Now get over here and untangle me, NOW!"

Smokey My Cat
July 14, 2010 1:30 PM
Another pose in his favourite flowerbed in the backyard when he is outside.

Smokey My Cat
June 16, 2012 7:15 PM
Sasha and Smokey having their daily Spoon Lick after dishing up their daily ration of canned food.

Smokey My Cat
July 25, 2012 6:58 PM
Sitting on the sidewalk near the back gate, guarding the trimmings,
especially the catnip trimmings right in front of him.

Smokey My Cat
August 5, 2012 1:27 PM
Yes, strange taste for a cat, but he liked melons.

Smokey My Cat
September 28, 2012

It is with sadness that I tell you that my little Smokey passed away today.

I had noticed for a little while he didn't seem as perky as usual but just thought he was a bit under the weather. However, this afternoon when he was jumping down off the back of my desk to the dresser he stumbled and virtually fell onto the dresser. He seemed disoriented and wasn't walking right. I tried to comfort him some, I could tell he was in pain by appearance and his little mournful meow. I decided we better go see the vet, this may be serious.

The vet looked at him and then they drew a bit of blood for testing. While awaiting the blood results he looked at his teeth after I explained that he had been pawing at his mouth the previous week. He had a severely abscessed tooth, but the vet was less concerned about it as he was about the results of the waiting blood tests. Unfortunately the tests showed kidney failure, and liver failure, and he would only survive another few days at the levels he was at.

I was given a few options. I could take Smokey home and let nature take it's course. He would be in pain for most of that time but for the last half day or so he would no longer feel the pain but would be so disoriented that he wouldn't even know I was there. Or I could let him go peacefully with a painless lethal injection. I took a bit of time, but decided that the best way was to let him go without enduring any more pain.

When the vet gave him the needle Smokey actually turned to him and hissed and growled at him. Quite the contrast to how sedate he had been previously. He went limp in my arms on the way to the vehicle, and he passed away on my lap in the vehicle on the way back home (no I was not driving).

He is now buried in the flowerbed that he loved to sit in when he was outside at the house. About 15 ft to the left of where he is in the above picture. My Mom is painting a stone to place on his grave. He will be missed. Click on the picture for some of my fond memories of Smokey with me.

Thinking back, Smokey has been showing signs that there was something wrong for a couple weeks. He has been stumbling a bit when jumping up to his favourite sleeping spot on the back of my desk. He has been getting sick more frequently, he has been begging for soft canned food more frequently. He has not been getting up at 5:00 AM wanting out in the mornings for several days now. Last night he stayed on the bed with me the entire night. I really miss him, I have been second guessing my decision to have him put down peacefully and yet I know he was suffering. He will be forever in my memories.

Goodbye Smokey.

Smokey My Cat
September 29, 2012

The marker stone in place on his grave site.

October 4, 2012

Some very personal thoughts since Smokey's passing

Smokey's death has hurt me far deeper than I could have thought. Maybe partly because it all happened so quickly. I think more so because I have been blaming myself for not seeing the symptoms until it was too late.

Smokey appeared to be in pain when I took him up to the vet. My mind tells me that the decision to euthanize was the right one, but my heart is wishing I had taken him home to spend the rest of his time with me at his side for every minute of his remaining time. I can't change that decision but I still have these thoughts and I have to live with them.

Looking back over the last three to four months, I should have recognized some signs of a tooth abscess as far back as June. Quite recently, Sept 12, he was pawing at his mouth, and I figured that something was wrong, but couldn't see anything myself when trying to look in his mouth. I was going to take him to the vet that day, but he seemed to settle down and go back to his routine. I had used my phone to take a brief video of what he was doing to show to the vet, but since he seemed OK again, it stayed on my phone. I did show it to the vet on Sept 28th when I took Smokey to the vet. The vet immediately recognized the signs of a tooth problem and quickly found a severely infected abscess. The vet had already recognized the symptoms of the kidney problem and had taken some blood for tests before I showed him that, and he was much more concerned about that condition than the tooth abscess.

Many places I have read that an abscess that is left untreated can lead to the infection entering the bloodstream and damaging the kidneys. I can't help but think that he could still be with me for several more years if I had noticed the symptoms much earlier. But it could also have just been a kidney problem that was slowly developing anyway and maybe it would not have helped. Either way I should have seen that he was failing. I only noticed it when I was looking back through the pictures and noticed how thin he looked on August 5th when he was licking at the melon (not the picture above, but one that shows his full body). That shows that he was going downhill for at least a couple months. Which then makes me think Smokey had these symptoms for months, and I still did not see it.

During my Fathers battle with ALS there was times I was out in my shop and I would be sitting thinking about my Father and start crying. Every time this happened, Smokey came over and rubbed around me and pushed on me to get me to sit back and let him cuddle on me and work his claws and purr non stop. He sensed when I needed his comfort and was always there for me. Even several times after my father's passing he was there to comfort me. He was always there for me, and yet when I needed to be there for him, I didn't see it.

The other thing that is eating away at me is that Smokey's death hurts more than my Father's death on March 11, 2002 did. Yet there is no way that Smokey had more impact on my life than my father did. My father was always my hero throughout my life, he was always there and always ready to help in any way possible. Even throughout his battle with ALS the heroic strength of character he had was virtually unbreakable. I try to justify my greater hurt with Smokey's death by the fact that my Father battled ALS for several years and I had to deal with the slow loss of my Father who, near the end was barely with us physically.

When I go out to my shop, everyplace I look, I remember Smokey being there, he was there with me for 10 years. At and around the house Smokey has been with me everywhere. I can't get away from his images and memories. Right now with all these other thoughts, that hurts more then it helps. Getting away eases the pain for a bit, but you eventually have to come home. Sasha still depends on Mom and I, and he is really missing Smokey too.

I know this sounds crazy, I still have my family (my Mother, Brother, Sisters, and several Nieces and Nephews) to live for, but I am having recurring thoughts of "What do I have to live for? My loving Smokey that depended on me is gone. I failed him. I have nothing left to live for, I have nobody in my life?" I guess the fact that I am recognizing the things that I do have to live for puts less weight on these thoughts, yet I can't help that I do have these thoughts.

This is making me think back on my life to date and second guess decisions that I have made during my life. I always had so much love in my life with family surrounding me, I had work that kept me busy and have always been involved in something that left me on-call all the time. I never really actively dated or actively looked for someone else for companionship in my life. I had family, friends, and acquaintances around all the time. I have lost touch with so many of these acquaintances and some friends over the years. Some simply because we lost touch over time, others because of how I deal with stress. During times of financial hardship after some bad investments I tended to close in upon myself. I find myself wondering how my life would have been different if I had made an effort to find someone to share my life with, and to raise a family. Yet it is very late in life to change that since I would be too old to ever see my kids grow up.

Smokey had a great life with me for 16 years, which really is a pretty decent span for a cat. I have to learn to turn all these memories in to fond recollections of his life and stop thinking about the "what if" things that can never be changed. I have to stop thinking about the things that I can never change, learn from them and carry on. These memories will be with me for the rest of my life anyway. I have made a poster that I am having printed and framed to hang in my shop and my bedroom so many fond moments of Smokey's life with me can be forever with me.

I find I am already considering getting another cat for the companionship, but also feel I am betraying the memory of Smokey by having these thoughts again so soon. Sasha is still mourning the loss of Smokey. I don't know how Sasha will deal with a new companion yet and that is making me hesitant to get another cat too. Sasha has been with us for 13 years and is also a cherished member of the family, I don't want to hurt him either.

Smokey My Painted Rock
Oct 5, 2012

This is a rock which my Mother painted for me as a paperweight in 1998. I now have placed it in a wicker basket with a cloth under it so it looks like Smokey laying in his bed. I am going to try and find a basket shaped more like his bed was. It now sits on my dresser beside my desk under my TV in my bedroom. The memorial picture will be on the wall above the TV.

My Smokey Memorial
October 5, 2012

A small version of the 20"x27" memorial I am having printed to fit a frame I bought. I am printing one 16"x20" for my shop too. Clicking on it will bring it up in a new window with a 2000 pixel wide view.

The greatest lesson to be learned here is simple. Take some time to learn of many basic symptoms of common ailments for your pet so you may be able to identify a problem early on while it is treatable.

Cats by their nature hide any problems so as to appear completely healthy even when they are not.

If you don't learn to recognize some of these symptoms, you too may someday have to go through the deep feeling of guilt that I have been going through.

November 18, 2012

I found much of this information within days of Smokey's passing, but I finally put it together and added it here for others to learn from.

After doing a lot of digging for information about Kidney Disease in cats I have to recommend a site as the absolute most informative and helpful of all. Several others site discussing feline kidney problems also link back to it. Here is a link to he site: Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease

The information that Helen (Tanya was the name of her first cat with Kidney Disease) provides on this site was most disheartening to read and only further elevated my guilt of choosing euthanasia so quickly. Maybe Smokey was still treatable and could have lived on for several years with the proper diet and care. I will never know for certain, but that thought will live with me forever.

Some of the important points are these:

Cat In Crisis: Crashing

If Your Vet Has Recommended Euthanasia

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