For this weeks blog, we are going to post another memorial. Roslyne’s dear cat Smutty proceeded Sonny not too long ago, just a few short months. Writing memorials as Ros and I are finding, is quite healing. Loss of any kinds is difficult. We need to give ourselves time to heal, and do some things that are healing.
Here is Roslyne’s memorial for dear, dear Smutty:
Kathy’s moving memorial on her beloved Sonny had me in tears. It echoed so many of my own thoughts and feelings of living with the three cats my husband and I have loved and cared for, Tibby, Allsorts and, most recently, Smutty, who was put to sleep last August. Having to make that heart-breaking decision is never easy. The guilt I felt each time! Was I playing God? Could I have done anything else for him? The grief of losing my dear friend – had I let him down just when he needed and trusted me? My comfort was that I had saved him from further suffering. But then, should I have made the decision to do this sooner?
It was 1998 when Smutty first acquainted himself with us. One afternoon, a complete stranger, he boldly hurried into our house through the back door and headed straight for the cat food and drink, which he gulped down immediately. Our children then attempted to stroke him, but he didn’t appear to be particularly friendly and he wouldn’t allow me anywhere near the name tag on his collar! He then proceeded to have a good look around, in the curious way that cats do, before deciding to leave. Unbeknown to us, this was to be the first of his many visits!!
Our then slightly ageing, gentle Allsorts was not at all impressed with this butch, handsome intruder and I eventually managed to track down where Smutty came from. There was no cat-flap in the house where he lived down the road and the well-meaning lady who had bought him as a kitten, was out working from 8am to 8pm five days a week. Hence, most of his life was spent outdoors and he gradually spent more time at our house throughout the cold winter months. I couldn’t allow him to move in, as that would have been unfair to Allsorts, so I used to have to get this lady to come and fetch him home on an evening.
In those early years, although he had been neutered, Smutty was a bit of a ‘wild boy’ and developed a reputation in the neighbourhood of upsetting the other cats, which earned him the name ‘The Wild Beast Of Rawdon’! I remember one weekend when he came to us, absolutely soaking wet, shivering and smelling distinctly of beer!! I immediately washed and towelled him down before he started to lick it off and then I rang his owner, Lynn, who denied any knowledge of what had happened. There were two occasions where his curiosity almost landed him in the wheelie-bin wagons – after which, he was absolutely petrified of them! Then there was the time when a neighbour was so angry with him for attacking their cat, that he told me that, if he had a gun, he would shoot him!!
Late one evening, after Smutty had already been taken home, I heard his familiar deep-toned meow outside our door and I reluctantly, but purposely tried to ignore him, in the hope that he would give up and go home again. He persisted for quite some time however, so I eventually opened the door. To my horror he wandered in with blood running down his face, which appeared to be coming from a cut under his eye. Amazingly, he allowed me to clean him up and after being checked over by the vet it, thankfully, turned out not to be as bad as it looked. We never knew though whether he had been knocked by a car or involved in a fight. I remember at this time feeling very guilty that I had at first ignored his cry for help and also, feeling deeply touched that he should choose to come to me for help, rather than his owner!
Then, one day Lynn came to tell me that she could no longer cope with Smutty constantly meowing to go out, only to come to our house. All the shelters were full, so she “would have to have him put to sleep”! I hadn’t wanted to keep him, as I didn’t want to upset Allsorts but, as you’ll have guessed, he was in our hands now!! It wasn’t easy at first, as we had to try and keep them in separate rooms, but the change came about when we moved house. Taking them both there at the same time, the new house became ‘shared territory’ rather than ‘Allsorts’ territory’! Smutty gradually calmed down, becoming more affectionate, and started to model his behaviour on Allsorts. If Allsorts went out or came in, he would follow; if Allsorts decided to have some food or to lay on the sofa, he would do the same and so on!!
Several years later, we had to make the heart-breaking decision to have Allsorts put to sleep. We all missed him so much, but not long after this, Smutty then becoming the centre of attention, really settled down, never venturing far from home and rarely leaving my side. In the winter, he loved to lay in front of the log-burning stove with my husband, Dave; and in the summer he would bask in the windowsills, following the sun around the house.
Over the last year or so, and especially as Smutty reached his 20th year, his health started to deteriorate. He only had three teeth left, he had stomach problems, which the vets put down to old age, and he lost a lot of weight. At the beginning of August, he stopped eating and became quite disorientated. Once again, we had to make that heart-breaking decision – this time to have Smutty put to sleep. The vet was so gentle with him and he slipped away Peacefully, in my arms.
I really love what Kathy says about Sonny being “God’s creature, whom he loaned to them to take care of for a time” and the mental picture of her “standing before Jesus, handing over Sonny to Him – to be forever in His everlasting arms”.
At the time when Smutty had turned up injured on our doorstep, I remember reading from Matthew,
“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
I realised that when Jesus says, “the least of these brothers of mine”, that this includes His animal creation and that each of these things could have related to what He wanted me to do for His brother, Smutty. Even “needing clothes” could apply to keeping him warm and dry! In fact, many years later, I chose to read this at our first annual Pet Service. One part that didn’t seem relevant though was the final line, “When did we see you in prison …? Only since coming to write this memorial for Smutty has God shown me that by making that final decision to have him put to sleep, we released him from his prison of suffering, into the loving arms of his Creator!
Rest in Peace, Smutty. We love and miss you so much Darling, but know you are in good hands until we meet again.