What I’ve Learned from Smudge
Being an adoptive mother, I had many things to learn while raising my kitten, Smudge. Smudge has become an important part of my life. Important enough that I physically ache with missing her while I am away at college. But every reunion is beautiful.
When I adopted Smudge, she was not happy about the foreign carrier I put her in nor was she thrilled about the car. She tried to climb out of the carrier through the zipper I kept open so I could pet her to calm her down. When she finally had her upper-body on my chest and could feel me better, her panting waned. As she looked at me, I knew she now saw me as her protector. She knew I would be taking care of her.
Having a dependent means knowing what they need. I know when Smudge is hungry, when she wants to play, when she is tired, and when she is scared. I know which food she likes, which includes her sniffing everything I eat. I know which toys are her favorite. I know she would follow me anywhere, as long as we stopped for a nap and some snacks along the way. She has also taught me the value of space. When she wants to be alone, she’ll curl up where I am not, and that’s okay. We all need our alone time.
I remember her just last year, when she was tiny and awkward. Her fur was mostly gray with splotches of white. Now she is a grown cat, still gray and white, but with blonde and brown spots interspersed in her soft fur, especially those brown smudges resembling quizzical eyebrows. Her head still seems too tiny for her body, but she is one of the most beautiful cats I have ever held. Smudge has taught me as long as you take care of yourself and others, it doesn’t matter what you look like.
Smudge has taught me a definition of love I never really understood before. Her tail perks up when I walk in as she meows her greetings and hugs me by rubbing up against my legs. I don’t know if she misses me while I am gone, but seeing her run around the room in excitement and hearing her purr so loud the floor starts to vibrate lets me know she is happy I am home.
Love is also checking in on someone. When I am laying down for a nap, Smudge will hop on the bed and sniff my face to make sure I am okay. She will also lay across what I am working on to remind me to take breaks. As she sleepily curls up next me or on my laptop she reminds me how important it is to make sure I stay rested.
Smudge may not be able to communicate through verbal English, but she has told me about life. She has shown me by perching in the window there is a world out there. With each tail flick, and with widened eyes she tells me this is exciting. As she watches the birds and squirrels, even the wind through the leaves, she tells me about the beauty of nature.
Adopting a pet is more than gaining a fur ball to roam your house. It is gaining another family member to care for and love. Animals can teach us so much about life and love if we listen to them.