“Who is that cat?”
“The one with the thing. You know, the thing. That thing. The neck thing.”
Thus spake ten thousand Tabby’s Place visitors over the past month.
If you’ve not been among those inquiring minds, allow me to introduce you to Smokey…and his neck thing.
Smokey wafted into Tabby’s Place as a Feral That Wasn’t(TM), one of those gooshily-friendly outdoor cats who knew a good (indoor) thing when he saw it. His affection was incendiary, setting every human heart ablaze with all the purrs and cuddles and long-haired lavish loving.
Problem was, our hunka burning tabby wasn’t so hot on a certain necessary habit.
Lest you think he merely had a discerning palate, we tried. There would be chicken and ham and roast beast of every ilk. Raw and cooked and flambeed and florentined — it was all equally atrocious to our anti-food fellow. We were just about to get Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain on a red-eye flight when Dr. C made the call.
It was time for a neck thing.
It looks like a random piece of a hamster Habitrail, but Smokey’s apparatus is a feeding tube. The hunger-proof cat couldn’t avoid nutrition if we got it into him this way. Feeding him tube-style would keep Smokey strong and buy us time to figure out what, exactly, was causing his condition.
Meanwhile, Smokey moved out to the Tabby’s Place lobby. Sweet as he’d been with us all along, we figured he’d blow into the Community area like a sweet wisp of honeysuckle. Heck, the other cats would probably take pity on the poor, be-tubed Smokey and gently nuzzle his fluffy head. Surely love and mercy would ensue.
Reminder #498,792: humans no be smart.
Smokey took one look at his feline companions and grimaced. His internal monologue soon became obvious: Only YOU can annihilate your own species.
And so he did. I mean, he tried. (No, don’t call PETA on us…Smokey did not, in fact, annihilate all other members of felis catus. Not for lack of trying, though.)
Out in the Lobby? He’d curl in your lap like an oversized fancy long-haired hamster.
Sneaking into the Community Room? IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG AND YOU MUST ALL FACE MY WRATH!
But hold on, you may be saying. Maybe the other cats were just intimidated by his neck thing. Maybe they reacted in a way that sparked Smokey’s
And so, neck thing and all, Smokey became one of very few cats in Tabby’s Place history to forfeit the use of our open-door policy.
Fortunately, this was okay with Smokey. If he didn’t have to see the Community Room cats, he didn’t have to kill them. And, being freed from the need to commit genocide, he had plenty of time to lounge in laps and love with all his enormous strength.
Even more fortunately, Dr. Sherlock Collins and Denise Watson were getting to the bottom of Smokey’s stomach issues. An extremely unusual, super severe case of IBD had broken him of that habit of “eating food.” We just had to get him on the right prescription diet and fan that habit back into flame.
And then came The Saturday. An otherwise ordinary day was shot through with a siren-scream of excitement. Our weekend crew could barely believe their eyes…but only one cat in the lobby had mile-long hair, spectacular swagger, and a certain neck thing.
An emergency text message shot out to the entire Tabby’s Place staff, and a wildfire of elation spread throughout the land. That blaze hasn’t stopped yet…especially because a Smokey who eats is a Smokey who can get adopted.
And there goes my punch line: yes, Smokey has a home already waiting for him.
We’ll miss our punchy pyromaniac. But as he eats and delights in the years to come, we’ll always be grateful we got to love the cat with the neck thing.*
*And the Community Room cats will not miss him at all. In fact, I think I see Mario burning him in effigy as I type.