Thursday, October 27, 2005

10/27/05 ~ Alpha Kitty...

I must tell the story about Alpha Kitty Smudge before Bella takes that title.

Smudge is current Alpha Kitty. Well, maybe not so much after the last 2 days. Smudge took over Alpha Kitty position from Tiki when I think Tiki just didn't care anymore. He was old, settled, was willing to give up the crown. Smudge saunters around the house doing whatever he wants, saying whatever he wants. The dogs don't even mess with him. Except little Max, the Sheltie... Max was 6 months old when we brought him into the family and Smudge immediately assumed big brother duties. Whenever Max feels like he needs some extra attention, he'll walk up to Smudge and stamp his back legs into Smudge, which, funny enough, Max learned from Smudge. That's how Smudgie entices everyone else to play. Smudge will grab Max's head in his paws and start licking his face. So anyway, everyone pretty much leaves Smudge alone now. Smudge used to be a teeny little kitten. Smudge is now a snotty, troublesome 20+ pound dirty orange tabby. Smudge opens the cabinet doors where his treats, canned food and catnip are. As soon as they hear the banging cabinet door, the other cats gather around awaiting Smudge's presentation of the goodies.

Smudge almost died when he was a teenager. He came down with something, no one knows what. The veterinarians -- every last one of them at the clinic -- were all baffled. He was on antibiotics, IV's, vitamins. I had to blend canned food with water liquid enough to suck up in a syringe and force-feed the kitten. Force-fed him water, because, for a few weeks, Smudge didn't even have the strength to stand. That got messy. And we had daily baths. But Smudge was the coolest cat around. And we had to do everything we could to get him through this. Everyone started getting hopeless, even the vets, even though they told us to keep the faith. I was wondering how much this poor kitty could take before it was time to let him rest. The vet said don't even think about that option, but would later tell us he was surprised Smudge lived through it. Poor Smudge lost a lot of weight, his eyes clouded over with infection, he lost all mobility. We spent gobs of money on tests and treatments... and nothing conclusive. The last straw was when we ran out of humane options. The vet said they could do a bone marrow test and see if his white cell production was compromised, but that would be painful for Smudge. And they could stick a needle in his eye and extract the fluids to see what was causing the cloudiness. But there was no way on earth that I was letting them stick needles in his bones and in his eyes. So we took Smudge home. We expected every morning to wake up and see he had left us. But he held on, and we held on. Then miraculously, one day we walked into the kitchen where we had him set up, and he wasn't there. We scoured the first floor and, not finding him, peeked down the staircase leading to the basement. There he was, slowly making his way downstairs, step by step. I brought him back up to the kitchen, set him down and watched as he tried to move a bit. The next day he seemed to have a little more life, he was holding his head up more, keeping his eyes open, and overall acting more alert. Another bath livened him up a bit, he actually struggled. And the next day his cloudy eyes were a bit more clear. We took him back to the vet for another checkup, and he stood up in his box trying to look out. He even meowed. Several days later, he was completely fine, and with a new lease on life. Ever since then, Smudgie's nickname has been Bastard, usually used in a sentence such as, "Dammit Smudgie, you're such a bastard!!" Or "Get out of there Bastard!" Which will follow events such as Smudgie learning how to get into the kitchen cabinets and knocking everything out of them, jumping on top of the counters and knocking the huge glass fruit bowl down shattering it into a million pieces, grabbing a staining sponge and trekking it across the house (over and over as he always seems to find where we've hidden it), knocking a beautiful hand-painted box that holds all of our office supplies off the desk and denting our new Brazilian Cherry floors, running in between our legs and tripping us every time we try to leave him when he wants attention, oh yes, and biting my legs after I get out of the shower because he wants attention.

When we brought Smudgie and Bijou home, my oldest nastiest cat Kappy used to kick the crap out of them. Bijou was the same size and, even though Kappy had claws and Bijou didn't, could hold her own. Poor Smudgie was 10 weeks old. Kappy used to corner him and smack him around until we heard his screams and could chase Kappy away. Smudge lived in fear of Kappy and Kappy made sure he stayed out of her sight. After beating death, Smudge actually seeks out Kappy and tries to bug her. Sometimes he'll circle around her with his back and tail raised, waiting for a reaction. If she hisses or smacks him, he'll pounce on her. Again, he's 20+ pounds, she's 6 pounds... there's not much of Kappy that you can see once Smudge is on top of her. Kappy has her spot on the bed next to my pillow. Smudgie likes his spot to be approximately 6" away from her, but he'll sneak in there rather nonchalantly, as if he's really NOT there to bug her, just there to climb under the covers. So he'll dig under the covers and plop himself halfway underneath them and look at her with squinty eyes, waiting for her to smack him. She usually leaves him alone at first. But he'll pretend he needs to stretch and his paws will inch towards her. Or he'll roll over on his back meanwhile stretching his paws toward her. I even found him lying on his back halfway stretched on top of her. I still can't believe she tolerated that, but I have picture proof!

Fearless Smudgie will chase after all the other cats in the household, shocked when no one returns the playfulness. One day I saw him running, legs flailing out to the sides as he skidded across the wood floors towards my bedroom, and he crashed into poor Bijou and sent her sliding into the wall. And again another day when he did the same thing tearing into the kitchen to plow into Tiki and send him flying across the kitchen. Bijou must have learned her lesson though. She was sitting in the bedroom doorway and Smudgie tried his old antics running full-speed towards her. When he was almost upon her, she lay down, Smudge jumped over her clearing her completely, and she sat back up.

Smudge is Alpha Cat, but Bella is slowly compromising his authority...........

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