Thursday, November 09, 2006

Smudge’s Two Paws


It is said that when you have a multi-pet household you need to be extra careful not to show favoritism to one animal over another. Just like humans, cats and dogs can suffer from feelings of jealousy and abandonment. With that said, I love all of my cats equally in their own special way. But my cats, free of human feelings of equality and justice, have no such limitations on who they love more. My oldest cat, Magoo, definitely loves my wife more than he loves me. Bella is pretty much equally indifferent to both of us, although she does enjoy her morning makeup sessions with my wife. Dolce leans more towards me, but in her own fiercely independent way. The last member of our household, Smudge, loves my wife and his grandma, but there is no mistaking who he holds in highest regard. Smudge is my cat and I want to tell you about Smudge’s two paws.

Although he has four paws, Smudge’s two front paws speak for him. His left paw says “I really do” and his right paw says “I love you.” It has taken me more than eight years to figure this out, and it required nearly losing him to kidney failure to finally grasp what he was trying to say.

Smudge first tried to tell me this as a kitten when he would fall asleep on my chest as we lay on the couch and watched the television on lazy Sunday afternoons. He would curl up in a warm comfortable ball for several minutes and then suddenly stretch out his paws. First the right paw, “I love you.”; then the left paw, “I really do.” Without understanding what he was saying, I responded instinctively with a loving massage on the back of his neck. To him, this was cat for “I do/am too.” Smudge and I have repeated this conversation more than three hundred times without realizing it.

As he grew up, Smudge has tried to teach me his two paw communication in other ways. At night, once everyone is settled in bed and the television is off and then only sound is the other cats and my wife snoring, Smudge will stretch out beside me. Shortly thereafter I will feel a little cat paw on my face. It is usually his right paw that pulls the blankets from around my face and then softly lands on my cheek. When the world is silent and dark, Smudge quietly says, “I love you.” Regularly he even adds, “I really do.”

Sometimes Smudge does not wait until everything is quiet to say those beloved three words to me. He has interrupted my reading of a book by rubbing his cheek forcefully against my hand. I think that means “I want you to talk to me.” If I ignore him, he uses his left paw to pull the book away. “I really do.” He says.

There are times when Smudge just needs to tell me how much he cares. He will hop up onto my lap and start kneading, first his right paw, then his left paw. I love you; I really do. He must think that I am a little slow, for he will continue to tell me that over and over again. I always give him the human equivalent and tell him that I love him too, but I don’t think he cares until I massage the back of his neck. Then and only then does he accept that “I do too.”

It was during one of our “I love you”, “I really do”, “I do too” sessions that I noticed how skinny he had become. Where there once was strong muscular shoulders, I now felt the bony ridges of his shoulder blades and spine. Luckily, his annual vet appointment was coming up quickly on the calendar. We would find out why he was losing weight and we would get him fixed up good as new. But Smudge was fated to never be good as new; he was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure. It was a condition we can only manage, never cure or fix.

We left him at the vet for treatment, but made a point of visiting him the next day. He looked terrified and small with the IV hanging from his left arm. His eyes said to me “I’m scared.” I lovingly massaged the back of his neck and told him “I am too.” As he lay in his cage and I tried to reassure him that everything was going to be alright, Smudge placed his right paw on top of my left hand. “I love you.” Once again I told him, “I do too.”

It was then that I realized what he had been trying to tell me all those years. After all those Sunday afternoons; after all those middle of the night reminders; after all that kneading on my lap; I finally understood. It took seeing him in cage at a vet’s office with an IV stuck in his arm and feeling his soft paw being placed on top of my hand to open my eyes to what he had been saying. When he was at the scariest moment of his life and he was all alone, he made the effort to tell me “I love you.”

When faced with his kind, gentle spirit; I know that I am not as noble of a creature as he is, but he doesn’t seem to care. Each night since he has been home, Smudge has said goodnight with his two paws. “I love you.” “I really do.” Somehow my response “I do too”, which appears to mean the world to him, does not match or even come close to depth of emotion Smudge shares.

C.D. Smith


Blogger Jake and Bathsheba said...

Our Mom is blubbering now. We hope Smudge is doing okay.


6:51 PM  
Blogger Karen C. said...

That's the sweetest thing ever. I'm at work and I just had to hide my face so the co-worker walking by wouldn't see the tears streaming down. Absolutely beautiful!
Grr, Midnight & Cocoa

8:44 AM  
Blogger Edsel/The Pooch said...

you and Smudge are lucky to have each other and to love each other so much. whatever happens, always be grateful for that love. it is special beyond words.

2:53 PM  
Blogger ML (Mary Lynn) said...

This is one of the most beautiful, sweetest tributes I have ever had the pleasure to read, to share with you.

You and Smudge are so lucky to have each other.

10:19 PM  
Blogger The Meezers said...

You and Smudge share that most special bond of love. We are lucky to have such unconditional love from our little furry babies.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bless you both, from me and Mom,


8:43 PM  
Blogger brandi said...

I understand. Just that. And bless you both.

brandi's mom

5:32 PM  
Blogger Patches & Mittens said...

This is the sweetest thing I have ever read. What a wonderful cat, and what a wonderful man, to love a cat so much! Bless you.

We are purraying for Smudge.

CalicoMom Toni

9:34 PM  
Blogger Finnegan & Buddy said...

Absolutely beautiful. You are both very wise and smart to have learned to communicate so well with each other. Wishing you all the best.

Finnegan, Buddy & mom

6:11 AM  
Blogger Skeeeeezix the Cat said...

Win I shode this to my Food Lady, she made gurgley sownds and water leeked owt of her eyes, and she sed "That's so sweet!" We all hope yoo will be abul to enjoy more quality time with Smudge.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Scooby, Shaggy & Scout said...

A beautiful tribute. There is truly a special bond we share with our loved ones.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How lovely, what you wrote. How wonderful, the friendship you and Smudge share. I lost my Heather to renal failure in early 2004. We communicated, she and I, through eyes, and paws, and hands. I loved her. She loved me. That was all there was to it, but it was so, so much.
~ tammara

2:56 PM  
Blogger DEBRA said...

Smudge is lucky ... he has you.
You are lucky.... you have Smudge.

(and I am lucky because I have my Momma)

10:44 AM  
Blogger tiggerprr said...

I got very emotional yesteerday writing OC's story and the heaviness hung over me. Reading your story, I know the bond you have and can feel your sadness and worry that you must have felt when Smudge was sick.

I hope that the two of you will be sharing many more tender moments together.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Beau Beau & Angie said...

Our Mom had to have a good cry over that too. It is such a loving, moving, wonderful story and tribute to Smudge. Fanks for teaching the humans how to read cat paw language.

12:12 PM  
Blogger tiggerprr said...

OC heer, it wuz tuf to desid hoo getz my xtra voat. But Smudge's storee maid Momz iz leek whatur. So Smudge getz my voat.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Magoo, Smudge, Bella & Dolce said...

Smudge says that he wants to give his extra vote to Jake.

6:28 AM  
Blogger jeterharris said...

mi mom wantz to say da followin:

"What a beautiful Tale of Devotion for Smudge. I'm so moved ... thank you."

an now sheez doin sum sniffin!

luv--yer frend--jh

4:50 AM  
Blogger Kimo & Sabi said...

Could someone please pass the tissue box...?! Purrrrrr...

7:51 PM  
Blogger nels, ed, nitro, and/or xing said...

oh, smudge, concatulations on winning the tales of devoshun! your story made our mom cry really hard, 'cause our cousin charlie fluffy-tail had the same problem, an' she feels really bad for you an' your fambly.

how lucky you are to have such a loving dad, an' how lucky he is to have you (and understand you so well).

us meowers are purrin' and purrayin' for you, buddy! we hopes that you are getting better quick so you can enjoy your loot from skeezix's contest!

soft purrs and whisker sleeks from
nelson, edmund, nitro, & xingxing

8:33 PM  
Blogger Chaotic Cat said...

I don't actually have words to write how this story made me feel. Just know that that I really did sob a lot ... all the way through this post.

You certainly are a worthy winner of the "tails of devoshun"

Thank you.
Chaos's Hummy

3:38 AM  
Blogger Hot(M)BC said...

Con-cat-ulations Smudge and Smudge's Daddy!
Sanjee, Boni, Mini, Pepi and Gree

7:37 AM  
Blogger BoogersCat said...

ConCats Smudge on Skeezix contest!!!!

2:50 PM  
Blogger Eric and Flynn said...

Con-cat-yoo-lay-shuns Smudge, that wuz a luvly tail of devoshun

7:09 AM  

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