Gather around, young and old, as I tell you the tale of the great cat Smokey.
Smokey was a beautiful, gray feline with a heart that yearned to be an indoor pet and a determination to make his dream come true. He came to us one day, a mere kitten, alone and afraid. I was warned not to feed him but did not heed the words of wisdom. One slice of cheese, and he was mine.
As Smokey grew and became strong and fearless, his natural desire to wander developed. We tried to pacify these longings with a house built specially for him. He turned his tail up at our hospitality, knowing that the small Chihuahua slept inside the big house and not in the white house outside.
Our love for Smokey made us bring him inside for brief amounts of time, as darn cat allergies refused to let him be an indoor pet. He relished these opportunities, scanning what could be his home and even marking his territory behind the Christmas tree (which immediately made him an outside cat once again).
Smokey explored the neighborhood from time to time, leaving us for two or three days at a time to seek shelter by owners who did not have allergies. He still longed for a big house to roam, and we were doubtless that some people had given him a room for a night or two.
One day, a cruel and unusual fate took hold of the sweet, gentle animal. He found himself being held down in a car, taken to some unknown place. He was held down and tortured with needles while his owner – that’s me – watched as he transformed from a loving, kind cat to a ferocious, snarling lion. Smokey despised his necessary kitty shots.
The next day, and $200 later, Smokey vanished.
After a week, we realized Smokey had been angry at us for his kitty shots and had sought greener pastures elsewhere. My heart broke for my pet, and the Voo, who loved to play with him, mourned, too. But no one mourned as much as Superman, who had been the one who first told me not to feed sweet Smokey.
Superman had fallen in love with the gray animal, and no other cat could take his place. So we all tried to get by as best as we could, knowing he was happy at his new home.
Then one spring day, he reappeared, sitting in our front yard, as if he had missed us forever. He bounded up to me as I emerged from my car, and I noticed several changes about my sweet cat.
For one, he was wearing a purple collar. But he also had been neutered.
The grass, it seemed, had not been greener on the other side.
We left his purple collar, and Smokey suddenly seemed content to stay outside, playing with Voo when she emerged from the big house. His little white house outside was home sweet home, and he spent his afternoons lounging in the front yard.
And then he vanished again.
It’s been over a year since I’ve seen any sight of Smokey, but I have no doubt Smokey’s other owners saw their pet resting in our yard and stopped by to take him home. He is probably declawed by now and a resident of a big house, like he so much longed to be.
Oh, Smokey, we loved you so.