we were very unfortunate in that our first cat, Mog who we had had from our friends as a tiny kitten was hit by a car and killed on our street – virtually on his first birthday. Vowing next to get a grown up cat who knew the risks, I went down to the RSPCA with a friend and we found a grey tabby cat with an abbess on his head who was thought to be about 4. He had been picked up as a stray and they were calling him Oliver. I don’t know why, but of all the cats in the rspca that day, he was the one who did it for me.
When we got him home it quickly became apparent that my partner Tim was only ever be able to call him Mog, so we settled on the name Smog after a character in one of our daughter’s favourite cartoons ‘Pollouto’. It suited him so well.
Once the abscess healed, it turned out that Smog was a beautiful cat, however, he was never a people pleaser! When we first had him, if any of us tried to stroke him, he would tolerate it for a little while and then ‘turn’ and swipe at us. This isn’t that uncommon. To sort it, we petted him for a few seconds and stopped while he was still enjoying it and before he had had enough. Little by little, this behaviour improved.
Smog was obsessed by food, but he was also very fussy. The dogs could never believe how he manipulated me into going to dodgy supermarkets to pick up unhealthy cat pouches without even budging off my bed! We had to stick to regular feeding times otherwise he would miaow, miaow, miaow and drive me crazy. He always knew the second I got home. Despite being very greedy, I failed to find any easy to administer food rewards that would motivate Smog to use in training – unlike Prince (see ‘the kitten diaries’ video article). However, we established good routines and I went through periods of feeding him in his cat box so that it was easy and relatively stress free to transport him as necessary and he became a manageable cat.
Smog never really liked the dogs, although the dogs were good were good with him. Smog’s ‘core territory’ (see ‘what is a cat’ article) was upstairs where the dogs don’t go. He had a cat flap in the bathroom window which allowed him to come and go over the kitchen roof which meant he didn’t really need to interface with the dogs. I encouraged him interact by insisting that he had his wet food on a kitchen counter, twice a day. Rover was taught to lie down when Smog entered the kitchen in exchange for a bit of cat food (see ‘dogs and cats’ article). Smog never relaxed around the dogs and much to his disappointment, Rover never got to sniff his bum.
Smog’s main occupation was watching for cats out of the window. He didn’t really like other cats and I don’t believe he was very nice to them when he came across them out and about. He wasn’t much of a hunter which I was happy about but he did have an ironic sense of humour, once releasing a whole litter of young rats one at a time alive into our house over a period of weeks. I still feel inspired by this creative rebellion, like I said, he wasn’t a people pleaser.
Smog was very independent, and he barely ever sat on my lap. He mainly chose to interact when he was due to be fed and only really with me, he never bothered with any of the other family members – they rarely fed him!
Smog wasn’t the most user friendly of cats, and I’m not sure that he was the perfect pet, but he was a cool cat. He suited us and I’m happy to say, he went with our soft furnishings! We were able to give him a good home – not with other cats. He didn’t get run over; we had had Smog for about 10 years when he started to lose weight. He had intestinal cancer and went down hill very quickly and we had him put to sleep in the summer of 2018.