As you may remember I spent childhood summers at my grandmother Esther’s hotel in the Catskill town of Liberty, NY. (See My Heart Remembers My Grandmother’s Hotel, My Game Mother, Playing with Fire, and The Troubadour)
You may also remember that one of my beloved childhood pets – a cat with a beautiful gray coat named Smokey – spent many a summer with us at the hotel, and in fact once caused a bit of trouble in the dining room. (See The Cat and the Forshpeiz).
But unlike Smokey #2 – who was a rather lazy apartment tomcat – my childhood Smokey was a frisky female who had the run of our Bronx neighborhood, and obviously had many amorous adventures in backyards and alleyways. Those trysts of course came with many resultant pregnancies, and we’d have to call around to find homes for her litters. In fact just a few years ago my childhood friend Susy reminded me that her family had once adopted one of Smokey’s kittens. (See Skate Key)
One summer soon after we got to Liberty we noticed that Smokey was pregnant again. A few days later she disappeared, and we knew why – when a cat is about to give birth she seeks a private place to deliver her kittens. We knew in time she’d parade them out proudly for us to see.
But early the next morning and irate guest rushed into the hotel kitchen looking for my grandmother.
“What kind of hotel is this?”, she demanded. “There are mice in my closet!”
Undaunted, my grandmother lined a carton with towels and followed the angry guest to her room – for if you’ve ever seen newborn kittens you know they look very much like little mice.
My grandmother lifted Smokey and her kits into the carton and carried them straight to my room, much to my delight. Eventually the angry guest calmed down and actually became somewhat of a hotel celebrity for the unusual happening in her closet.
In September when we got back to the city, my parents took Smokey to the vet and had her spayed. That ended her nighttime adventures and Smokey lived out her life as a pussycat of leisure.
But I’ll always remember what a good mother Smokey was to all her kittens, especially those lucky ones born in a closet at my grandmother’s hotel!
Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!