Smokey March 23, 2008 – August 16, 2022

You may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging in recent weeks. There’s been a lot going on in terms of our move, but mostly I just haven’t had the heart. My beloved cat Smokey was diagnosed with a cancerous mass in early July, and on Tuesday we had to make the heartrending decision to let him go before he started to suffer. Smokey was my baby—I loved him with all my heart, and he loved me back. And so as I do with all my family members, close and distant, I want to honor his memory on my blog.

Smokey was born on March 23, 2008, in Southwick, Massachusetts. We had been looking to adopt two kittens after losing our last surviving cat Lily in the fall of 2007. I saw an ad on Craig’s List for a newborn litter, and we went out to Southwick to check out the new kittens. The kittens were born to siblings—the people had three cats, all black and white tuxedo cats, one female, two males—and the brothers had impregnated their sister. I was a bit concerned about the genetic consequences, but decided to ignore the issue.

There were six kittens—five of whom were black and white tuxedos, not surprisingly, and then there was Smokey. He was gray and white—the oddball in the litter. In fact, the family was referring to him as Oddie. I knew I had to have any cat who was an oddball. We asked the family which kitten seemed most friendly, and they pointed to a female, and she was our other pick, and she became Luna.

Here’s Smokey the first time we saw him. He was just a few weeks old.

We had to wait a few weeks until the kittens could be weaned, so we returned on Mother’s Day in 2008 to pick up Smokey and Luna. Luna was, as predicted, friendly and outgoing; Smokey was shy and hid under Maddy’s bed until he was sure we were safe.

He and Luna were bonded tightly—slept together, played together, and bathed each other. And soon they also bonded with our dog Cassie, who treated them like they were her babies, allowing them to cuddle up and knead their paws into her soft belly like she was their mother.

Smokey and Luna were inside cats only, but they loved going to the Cape and watching the birds and squirrels and chipmunks in the yard outside our screened porch.

Smokey and Luna on the porch.

When Luna died unexpectedly in the fall of 2014 when she was only six, I was shocked and devastated. I worried about Smokey. But although he seemed to look for her at first, he soon adapted to being the only cat. But when Cassie then died in June of 2015, Smokey was bereft. He started chewing on his leg, leaving a raw bald spot. Maybe he was picking up our sadness. Hard to know.

So to ease our pain and his, we adopted two new kittens in August of 2015—Zoe and Chloe. We brought them to our Cape cottage from the no-kill shelter in Provincetown and opened the carrier, waiting to see how Smokey would react. He sniffed, hissed gently, they hissed gently back at him. And then they became his babies.

Just as Cassie had allowed Smokey and Luna to pretend-nurse on her, Smokey allowed Zoe and Chloe to do the same. He bathed them, protected them, played with them. And he never again chewed on his leg. He was just happy to have his new babies to love.

Smokey remained shy forever around strangers, but with his family he was frisky and friendly and so affectionate. He was the ultimate lapcat—always happy to sit on me or next to me or with Harvey, squinting his eyes with love, rubbing his head into us to get us to give him some attention. He slept next to me every night, quietly curled up near me. When I sat in my chair working on my computer, he would jump up and squeeze in next to me, and as soon as I put the laptop aside, he would jump right onto my lap and sit there for as long as I allowed him to do so. He was my constant companion, a comfort when I was sad. He never resisted a hug or a kiss.

He was also well traveled. He first lived with us in Longmeadow, then adjust easily to our move to East Longmeadow in 2009. He loved going to the Cape, and he even tolerated the ten-hour drives to Florida and back. And I feel so lucky that he also got to spend a few weeks in our new house. In fact, he adjusted more easily than Zoe or Chloe to the newest environment. Here he is in the new house.

This photo was taken just a few days before he died. He was as beautiful then as he was all his life.

After he was diagnosed, he tolerated being given meds every morning without ever growling or hissing. In fact, other than the time he hissed at Chloe and Zoe, I had never heard him growl or hiss at all. He continued to act like he always had until just a week or so ago. But when he stopped eating and no longer could jump up on the bed by himself, I knew his time had come. It was both a hard decision and an easy one. Easy to know we were doing the right thing for him, hard to give him up, to say goodbye to our most precious, most gentle, sweetest cat ever.

I miss him so much. I see him out of the corner of my eye when I’m not looking carefully. I reach for him at night, but now Chloe has taken his spot on the bed. Chloe and Zoe will help to fill the hole that Smokey has left in my heart, but there will always be an ache, something missing from our home and from our lives.

Rest in peace, my sweet boy.

Cassie  July 2000-June 2015




We said goodbye to our wonderful dog Cassie this week.  It was a terribly hard and upsetting decision, but she was failing, and her quality of life had deteriorated to the point where we knew we had to make the right decision for her.  We are at peace. She lived a good and  long life for a dog.  But we are also incredibly sad.

Cassie was a pound puppy.  We got her at the Thomas J. O’Connor animal shelter in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the summer of 2001.  The police had picked her up after finding her tied to a tree in a trailer park in Chicopee, and no one would claim her as theirs.  She had been in the pound for only a few days when I saw her on and suggested we go take a look.

She was skinny, dirty, and overly excited.  Harvey and Maddy were skeptical, but I was in love, and I knew right away that she was sweet and gentle and loving.  And I was right.  Cassie never once growled at a person or a cat, and she only growled at dogs if they invaded her space, which wasn’t very often.  She never, ever hurt anyone.  She loved everyone.  When we told family and close friends that she was gone this week, everyone described her as loving and sweet and gentle.

August 2001

August 2001

Our vet estimated that she was about a year old when we adopted her at the end of July, 2001, so we assigned her a birth date of July 31, 2000.  She took almost no time to adapt to living with us.  She was clean and playful and smart.  She could run like the most graceful of animals.  The first time we took her to the beach, she ran all the way up a high dune.  We raced after her, fearful we’d never see her again, but there she was waiting for us at the top.  It took a long time before she was ever let off the leash again.

Cassie was with us during that dreadful fall of 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11.  She was such a positive distraction.  When my family, all shaken still by the events of that September, gathered for Thanksgiving, it was Cassie who made us laugh.  She was still new and puppy-like, and she’d run from one member of the family to another, excited and happy.

My dog and me November 2001

My dog and me November 2001

November 2001

November 2001

Once she settled in, she became calm and unflappable.  No matter where we took her—to the Cape, to a new house, to a temporary apartment before our new house was ready, to our cottage—she adapted almost instantly.  We even once dragged her all the way to Geneva, New York, so she could visit Maddy at college.  She was great in the car, great with children, and great with us.  I often felt badly that she was growing up in a home with no small children since she would get so excited any time she saw a young child.  And children loved her.  She would kiss them, and they would hug her.

So gentle with Nate as a five month old

So gentle with Nate when he was a five month old


And with Nate when he was three

About the only thing she didn’t like were elevators.  Can’t say that I blame her.  She liked going to the groomer, she liked going to the vet.  She liked strangers, she liked anyone.  She didn’t bark at people at the door or those who entered our home. She never jumped on people or pushed them around, despite the collie herding instinct.  She was definitely not a watchdog.  She was a love dog.

Cassie and Maddy


And our cats Smokey and Luna adored her.  From when they were little kittens, they would curl up on her, and to the very end of her long life, Smokey still treated her like his mother, kneading his (clawless) front paws into her belly and nuzzling his nose into her fur.  The only thing that seemed to light up Cassie’s eyes as she declined was Smokey.  She would even chase after him a bit to play.


Look how gently she handled Smokey as a kitten






Cassie and Smokey


Cassie was an incredible companion—on long walks in the neighborhood or the woods or the beach (even though she didn’t love the beach much) and just being with us in our home.  She was always right there with us wherever we went.  I can’t tell you how much we will miss her and how much we agonized over her decline and our final decision to give her peace.  But she had been there for us, and we had to be there for her.

So we are at peace.  She is no longer distressed and confused, and we can look back with deep love and gratitude for the fourteen years we had her with us.  Goodbye, Cassie.  You will always be our dog, and we will always keep you in our hearts.