Tomorrow it will be three weeks since Smudge found us! My partner (R) and I were sitting chatting about how quickly these weeks have gone and how well Smudge has settled in.

As I talked about in my previous article – A Smudge! – we have some challenges ahead of us, but with such a loving and giving little boy finding his way to us … we know how lucky we are.

On Sunday after yet another bath, he slept all day. With the incredible improvement in him, I suddenly realised how weak he still is. Over the past two weeks he has filled out, grown I think by 1/2 again, started to play, is able to walk, run and jump; but it isn’t until you see him expend energy that you realise how far we still have to go.

We thought that the oil was only on his legs, tummy and in his tail; but we were wrong – it is all over him! R keeps saying that maybe we should have called him ‘Duckhams’! Smudge is now having a bath every three days and each time he gets out of the bath, the water shows us just how much oil he still has in his body. Oh no! I hear you say … bathing a cat. We are using a cat shampoo that is supposed to keep fleas away, so that we don’t upset the oils in his own skin too much – or any more than they have been. Each bath highlights yet another challenge – has he been in a glue factory or near someone doing DIY with wallpaper paste? We are now finding the remnants of what looks like dried glue on his hind quarters. Smudge’s fight with R when he is in the bath now ends with Smudge being quickly dried off (as much as possible with a wriggling cat) and then brushed. As you pick the brush up you can see the smile on his face – he loves being brushed. We have to brush him on a towel as the bits and pieces that are now coming off his skin are unbelievable – insects, leaves, oil residue, glue, … but his fur coat is starting to feel soft and fluffy again.

We were just saying today how well he is walking, considering when he first arrived he couldn’t sit down on one of his back legs or use it to scratch himself. Today he is running around the house, jumping up and down stairs, windowsills, etc. just like a normal cat. In fact you can hardly see the deformity.

We are still praying that his left eye sorts itself out. He has been on antibiotics for 10 days and is now suffering the indignity of antibiotic eye drops three times a day. His eye hasn’t really starting to open yet; although the vet did say that we had to use the drops until the bottle was finished. So we are persevering! Smudge must realise that we are trying to help him as he doesn’t really struggle when R picks him up, lays him on his side, opens up the eye and drops a drop of liquid in.

Noises! Smudge is not a quiet cat but he doesn’t chat either. He seems to have developed the skills of being able to ‘grumble or snore’ in any position you can think of – sitting up, lying down, upside down. The benefit is that we always know where he is … :) . I wonder, though, if it’s partly to do with the fight he had when his eye was damaged; as I can now see a scar across his nose with a little bit of fur missing.

What has he been through? We sit there and we ask ourselves; but we know that we’ll never know. He still shows fears when something unknown is happening around us or him. As I’m writing this he is curled up in my arms, now asleep. The noises of R upstairs doing DIY were unsettling him – he was rushing from room to room to find out where it was coming from and what it was. It took me sometime to calm him down, but I’m learning to know when he is calm enough to be able to put him onto his new day bed (an off-cut marble slab with a blanket on top of one of the radiators). Spoilt! Well … all our cats are …! This is his preferred choice of daytime sleeping place, as he can see everything that is happening – inside and outside.

The first 10-days he was here he didn’t like us picking him up. He would fight; claws out! This first time he sat on R’s knee, curled up and purred was a moment that neither of us will forget. Today he is curled up on my left arm with both his front arms around my neck, snuggled in. I’ve learnt that this is his ‘I’m safe’ position! As he calms down and drops off to sleep, I can put him down on his day bed and he’ll stay asleep.

Our other two cats are brothers, have been together for nearly 6 years, and thankfully are now just about beginning to accept him. Initially both of them preferred to be outside rather than ‘confront’ something that they felt had taken over their home. Today as I’m writing this all three are fast asleep in their preferred day beds. They aren’t talking, or sleeping close to each other; but the two older ones came in through the front door willingly and ignored Smudge on their way to their preferred day bed! One upstairs on the windowsill, one in the study, one on the radiator!

© 2012 Barbara J. Cormack
First published under Cormack’s Capers in Magna Intuitum