One of our two family cats died today.
He and his sister, “Lady” (who can be seen in this film) came to us out of the blue. We were moving into a new home, and these cats had wandered into the lives of the previous tenants just before they left. They couldn’t keep them, so we basically inherited them. They were just kittens then, and used to make me laugh long and hard at their antics together. Lady is now living happily with friends of ours, but we kept the other one.
One friend liked the white tip on his tail and called him Pencil. Cat Haven, where he spent a week after someone thought he was a stray, called him Columbus. But generally, he was known by the name that girl who originally found him gave him: Smudge. Occasionally, I’d take all three names as his full name, as evidenced in the title.
Smudge was a really unusual animal. He was super friendly, always following us, and others, all over our neighbourhood. After we put our number on his collar, we would regularly get calls from friends and strangers alike who had spotted him wandering through the area or trying (and often succeeding) to get into private buildings. It was not unusual for Smudge to walk right through an open door and park himself under a table or on a chair, even in homes or businesses he’d never been in before. More than once I or others had to drive out to the local stadium and pick up Smudge from the office after he’d tried to get into see a show or a game (Meat Loaf, Def Leppard, and the Perth Glory all seem to have been objects of interest.) Other places he frequented included a local jazz club, a mechanic, and most frequently, the backpackers around the corner. There were lots of international travelers who were blessed by Smudge’s affections – or more accurately, whom Smudge enjoyed the affections of.
We did what we could to curtail Smudge’s wanderings, but to no avail. He even discovered a way to push his way out through a louver window and past a broken screen in our bathroom. Even so, he would always eventually return. It might take a day or two, but he’d show up in the morning or the evening, have his food, and be off again. As he was getting older (probably about a year now) he was slowing down a bit, staying a bit closer to home – sometimes even hanging out in the house for extended periods of time.
My girls loved him. Our other cat craves affection, but ironically isn’t very friendly, where Smudge was sort of the opposite. He was easy going, bearing with grace just about any “affection” that they could throw at him. When he would choose their bed to sleep in, it was a great delight for them.
They’re pretty sad today. My wife and I knew that it would happen eventually: there’s no way that a cat that was so comfortable wandering across roads, and sometimes even sleeping on them, was going to last forever. But last night, while we were traveling overseas (to different countries, no less) I got the word that Smudge had been hit by a car, and was alive but not doing well. Our friend (Lady’s owner) took him to the vet, and the best-case scenario for his recovery was simply out of our reach. And so he was humanely put down, and our friend agreed to bury him in our yard.
I had made one film starring Smudge, but really I think there was room for lots of others. Too late now, I suppose. But I am glad I have the one. It’s already up on the “Personal” page, but here it is again: Smudge, doing what he did best – following us!