Most of you have heard Baylie’s rescue story but may not be aware of how Baylie’s feline sister, Smoki, became a member of our family.
Smoki came into our lives on June 15, 2001. She is a Southern Belle born in Mobile, Alabama, to a cat of a family acquaintance. Obviously, they knew no more about cats than we as they misjudged her age as being much older. When Smoki was brought to us, I knew right away she was very young; probably no more than four weeks old and not yet weaned. We knew she should not have been taken from her mother at such a young age but were determined to make sure she was healthy, well fed and happy.
Smoki was brought to us on a Friday afternoon. Immediately, we gave her a shallow bowl of warm milk to see if she would lap but it didn’t happen. Her little nose went straight down into the milk and she came up blowing bubbles. We then tried wet food; to no avail. I tried to remain calm but knew she needed nourishment. Having no other pets in the house, there was no family vet we could call for help. We were on our on until Monday morning. I dashed to the nearest pet supply store for help and came home with cartons of Cat Milk Formula for Kittens and dropper to feed her. Relieved, she took the milk through the dropper right away. It wasn’t long before she began to lap milk on her own. However, it took forever to transition her from a liquid diet of Kitten Formula to solid food. We tried all types of wet food but she would just turn up her nose. Eventually, she decided she liked dry kibble provided it was laced with a little Kitten Formula. We reduced the formula little by little until she was eating kitten food, exclusively. To this day, she will not touch wet food.
As soon as the doors opened at the local clinic, Smoki and I were there. The vet concurred that more than likely, Smoki was no more than four weeks old. She weighed in just shy of one pound but very healthy. It wasn’t long before Smoki was running amuck through the house but being so tiny, there were numerous times that she was MIA. She could get into the tiniest spaces.
There is no doubt that Smoki lacks behavioral filters that are taught by a feline mother cat to her young at that critical age. She missed out on learning how to be a cat and being disciplined by her feline mother in the formative weeks. Kittens should be kept with their mothers and littermates for 12 weeks so they have time to learn not to play too roughly or bite. Kittens normally begin learning “kitty manners” at six weeks of age, and it takes a few weeks for them to fully internalize the lessons learned from mom and siblings as to the normal way to play. Even as a tiny kitten, Smoki would bite, and I mean bite until the blood would flow. No body part was immune but she was particularly fond of the face; most notably, your nose or upper lip. And, she would hold on until you could pry her little mouth open. It didn’t take long for us long to figure out when she would strike. We went through a lot of Neosporin and Band-aids in the early years and warned all visitors to keep the kitten away from the face. There were other problems that we worked through with Smoki, such as, play aggression and over stimulation.
In May, our little Smoki will be thirteen years old. She has “mellowed” over the years even tolerating 90 pound, rambunctious Baylie. Smoki remains a shy, sweet, playful, happy and adjusted one-person cat. She warms up to very few visitors to her abode but that’s okay, as we love her, unconditionally. She has brought us much love and joy since she joined our family. And, she’s become an excellent disciplinarian to Baylie.