Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Rescue Story Reprise: Remembering Smudge

Those tiny kittens were impossible to catch in the brush and grass along the road.

I JUST RECENTLY HEARD that we lost Smudge, the older kitten in this story—I grabbed him from this back road in 1995, and he had the chance to live 18 years with a wonderful person and several fur siblings. I’m so glad I took the time to rescue him and his fur brother Timmy; we can’t save them all, but we can give a better life to the ones we do save.

. . . . . . .

Sometimes, even though you’ve done your best to rescue kittens from a bad situation, you don’t succeed, and you never forget the ones you couldn’t catch. In this case I did manage to catch two out of five, and also have my left hand deeply punctured at the knuckle by a kitten who had no intention of being stuffed into a carrier. Every time I look at the scar on my hand I remember him, and all those kittens and that night, and I’m glad I had the chance to rescue at least the two.

. . . . . . .

Part One: Kittens in the Night

painting of trees with light
The road had steep brush-covered slopes on both sides (“Sunbeams”, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski)

The favorite dumping spot

One late evening in summer in 1995 I was driving home on a stretch of two-lane back road adjacent to a residential neighborhood near me. Suddenly in the shadows I saw what appeared to be leaves blowing around on the road and I slowed in automatic response.

The leaves slowed and regrouped and turned into a group of various-sized kittens before running to one side of the road and up a slight hill among the underbrush, one or two peeking back out at me. Tiny eyes reflected the fading daylight.

Oh, no, how am I going to catch them all? I thought.

Read the rest of “Part One: Kittens in the Night” here…


. . . . . . .

Part Two: Getting to Know You

sketch of two cats under table.
Sugar and Spice under the table.
orange kitten
One frightened kitten…

Initially, I called these two little bits Sugar, for the bigger guy with lots of white, and Spice, for the little guy with the rich ginger stripes. Though both hid completely when I was in the the room, not even breathing if they could help it, I could tell they were only traumatized by their experiences, and who could blame them? Tossed out from the security of their mother into the wilds of the woods and a paved road with regular traffic, we humans wildly trying to grab them probably instinctively seemed to them less like humans than like prey animals, then a wild storm. These two had lost everything they had known in about two days, and what their world had been replaced with was not at all familiar and totally frightening in its own.

Read the rest of “Part Two: Getting to Know You” here…

. . . . . . . .

I originally published this story in April 2012 on The Creative Cat; then found more notes, information and vet records as well as photos to fill out this story and to write another about their socialization.

. . . . . . . .

The sketch at the top of this post is titled “Big Game Hunter”, drawn in ink from a photograph in 1993. It’s one of the designs in the series of note cards called “Kitties Being Kitties”.

Read more of my stories from decades of rescuing and fostering cats, with a few from other rescuers mixed in: Rescue Stories.

Browse some rescued cats and kittens!


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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

One thought on “Rescue Story Reprise: Remembering Smudge

  • I remember the story of this rescue very well. I really felt for you.. pleased to have two safely in hand, troubled still, about ‘the ones that got away’. How marvellous that Smudge had such a long n happy Life.
    All the Best, Smudge.. your family, and friends, are delighted that you were found n came to live with them and looking forward to seeing you again, eventually, before passing over into the Great Beyond.


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