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Smokey My Demon Rex Cat

By: Janet Lambert

February 2002


Smokey has an admirer! He never leaves the house but his face is becoming well known on an internet community called Dooyoo. He was proud as punch when I chose HIS photo to adorn my personal profile (I haven't the heart to tell him it was only because the photo of me was too big to upload and he's only there by default for being less than 50kb) He was extremely pleased with himself when I read him some of the flattering comments about him by fellow Dooyooers, I swear he flirted coquettishly with the computer when I showed him what had been written. He pretended to be cool about it, but he doesn't meet many people as he's an indoor cat so I know he's really pretty excited.

It's not only because his new friend is so taken with him that I decided to write about him, even though he thinks the cat on her profile is nearly as good looking as he knows he is, but because he is such a big part of my life and very important to me, I write best when I write about something I love and Smokey certainly fits that bill - he's the bane of my life - my achilles heel - my tormentor - but I love him to bits!

You can tell, just by looking at him that he's the devil incarnate and the camera doesn't lie, he has a very wicked streak, but I adore him and couldn't be without him. Even when I stumbled sleepily from my warm bed, longing for a cuppa and slipped my toasty toes into my awaiting slippers... to discover they were full of cold congealed cat sick. I merely uttered a few choice words which he didn't understand, his vocabulary doesn't extend much further than "fish" "ball" and "tum for tuddles", but he soon won me around with his playful charm and winning personality (after I had washed my slippers that is!) Sometimes I think I'm mad to put up with him, the extra work he gives me but when he's at his most adorable, alluring and lovey dovey I can't resist him and he knows it.

Let me explain how I came to be owned by him, I was catless and miserable, my 23 year old cat had passed away a few years earlier, leaving me with a big gap in my life. But as my partners asthma had cleared up rapidly after the demise of my furry companion we reluctantly accepted that it was, after all, a cat fur allergy and for his sake, our home would never again reverberate to the patter of tiny paws and a throbbing purr. I would no longer have to carry a clothes brush everywhere for the hasty removal of furry fluff from my clothes and we would forever be denied the delights of emptying an overflowing cat litter tray.

Sadly I wasn't able to accept my catless state and became feline obsessive, stopping outside vets to peer longingly into cat baskets and avidly watching vets in practise and Animal hospital, for my furry fixes. So when a report on one of these tv shows mentioned Rex cats whos curly fur contains none of the guard hairs responsible for many pet allergies my ears pricked up and my heart began to pound, maybe this was the answer, admittedly they looked a bit strange these sometimes almost bald creatures with their narrow faces and huge pointy ears, but I had found a lifeline and I was determined to track one down. To my disappointment I discovered that these Devon and Cornish rex cats, all descendants of one freak hairless cat were pedigree to the extreme, quite rare in my neck of the woods and prohibitively expensive to us. We just couldn't afford a pedigree show cat at that time and I became once more resigned and grumpy. Until a friend of a friend rang me one day and told me of a rex cat who's owner was looking for a good home, she was a breeder of prize winning Devon rexes who had one kitten in a litter who wasn't up to show standard and was prepared to let him go to a loving home as a pet, free of charge. I was given a telephone number to ring. Spoke to the owner who confirmed yes she had a cat, 9 months old who wasn't suitable for showing but was perfectly healthy and she continued to tell me "he's Smokey..." but I interrupted to get the address saying we would be with her soon.

On the way I excitedly chatted to Brian telling him the cat was called Smokey. When we arrived we found a house full of cats, no less than a dozen maybe more swarmed around our feet all crying loudly in strange, insistent calls. Prize cups and trophies adorned the walls. Which one's Smokey? I asked excitedly, and the owner looked puzzled, "they're all smokey" she replied, "thats the colour. But that one is the one we don't want", and pointed to a small cat hanging back a little, he was wearing a hideous green suede collar and pulling a funny face. I went towards him and bent down to pick him up at which point he leapt on my shoulder and sat on my head. "They all like to do that" the woman said. Keen to take him home he was bundled unceremoniously into our cat basket and we loaded our protesting cargo into the car to take him home.

When we arrived we let him out of his travelling accommodation and he peered nervously around the kitchen then jumped on my knee and began to purr. "Isn't he gorgeous" I cried, "and he doesn't look nearly as bald as some of the rexes I've seen, but why is he still pulling a funny face?" and I looked at him and realised that his face was ever so slightly wonky, well it was his lower jaw actually, it was twisted at a very strange angle, and we realised that this was why he wasn't up to show standard, his lower jaw crossed to one side and one lower tooth stuck up out of his mouth at one side giving him a very quizzical expression. That was until we put him down on the floor and he started to run around with a rather unusual swagger and we noticed he was completely bandy legged too!!! Of course these slight defects made me love him all the more, instantly. I was even indignant that he was considered imperfect and that they hadn't wanted him because of it, illogically because if he had been considered perfect, we wouldn't have had him. He soon won us over, extremely vocal with a repertoire of loud and insistent calls one of which sounds EXACTLY like "Mummy" he was delightful, Brianís allergy didn't recur and even though Smokey was found to have a very sensitive digestive system which cannot tolerate tinned cat food, as the projectile vomiting led me to discover, the vet pronounced him healthy even though his jaw is malformed and his legs not quite how they should be. His lack of streetwiseness and his sparse fur which means he always craves heat has led us to keep him as an indoor cat and he doesn't seem to mind this he finds lots to keep him occupied indoors.

He soon settled in and completely took over the house. His first trick was leaping on your back as you bent down to feed him although the screams which ensued if you happened to be taken unawares put him off this activity a bit, but we couldn't discourage him from his other favourite game... running up the living room curtains. These were very nice curtains, (notice I say WERE) very large, cream brocade draping our huge bay window, lavishly adorned with a pelmet complete with fancy swags and tails, we bought them with the house, and Smokeys favourite playtime effort was to stretch himself from a doze in front of the fire, leap up, run round the room several times and then launch himself at the curtains aiming as high as possible sinking his needle like claws in and then swing gaily peering down at us shrieking at him, he thought it was just the BEST. This continued, and as he got bigger the curtains began to look rather shredded, which was great as it gave him even more purchase for his claws. Nothing would dissuade him, not shouting, throwing soft things at him or tempting him with his favourite tidbits. We sought advice and were given many useful tips by other cat lovers 1) spray the curtains with lemon juice as cats hate lemon juice... not Smokey, he loved the condiments we were adding to his favourite game although he would have preferred it if we had hung a few morsels of scampi from them too. 2) sprinkle pepper dust around the hems... this made him sneeze terribly but as he didn't associate the sneezing fits with the climbing activity all we then had was a violently sneezing cat hanging from the curtains. 3) get a water pistol and squirt cat each times he approaches curtains, cats hate water. Not ours. He LOVED this new game, night after night he would sneak towards the drapes and hide behind them waiting for us to begin the new game of squirting him whilst he would dodge the drops, playfully... then make a dash for it and up he would go, swinging and dripping and howling joyfully.

What was almost the final straw came on Millennium eve, celebratory drinks in hand we were waiting for the stroke of midnight to go outdoors and light a few fireworks, our glasses full we had already had a few drinks, were nice and relaxed and the hot sausage rolls were going down well, although Smokey wasn't too fussed, he doesn't like pastry much, when at 5 minutes to midnight he obviously decided he wasn't getting enough attention and launched his biggest assault yet, in a leap which would impress an Olympic high jumper he managed to reach almost to the top of the curtains and hung there for dear life, I think he scared himself as he was too high to get back down again, even when encouraged by my slippers, he was 3 years old by this time and quite heavy and as he swung to and fro peering down with that sardonic grin on his furry face the first creaking noise began and suddenly in the space of a few seconds he was down on the floor, unfortunately so were the curtains AND the curtain rail AND the pelmet, swags and tails !!! The pelmet landed on the coffee table, knocking several glasses of wine all over the carpet, the snacks and sausage rolls swam soggily in the wine which was soaking into the cream brocade like it was blotting paper and the huge bay window revealed several stunned and slightly inebriated faces to the amused neighbours, now outdoors enjoying their fireworks.

Miraculously I managed not to kill him and for some strange reason he no longer enjoys his erstwhile favourite game.

To sum it all up Devon rex cats are perfect for anyone who is allergic to pet fur, but only if they have nerves of steel and the patience of a saint!

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