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).
Many years later my husband and I had a cat we also named Smokey who I once feared had been sealed up in our apartment wall! (See Basement Kitten, and Missing Pussycats)
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!
Lovely story of your kitty on the loose and her motherly nature, Dana. Our first cat was a gift from a neighbor whose cat had also had a litter and the kittens needed a good home. We loved our calico SO much! Vicki’s first word was “kitty-cat”.
Thanx Betsy! I know Vicki is also a cat lover!
Back when I was a kid, we befriended the neighborhood feral cats. One kept coming to our house to have her litters. We eventually took her to the vet to have her fixed so she’d stop using us as a maternity hospital!
Yep Dave, the thing about litters of kitties is sometimes you just can’t even give ‘em away!
Very sweet hotel story, Dana. Glad the guest whose closet was the maternity ward ended up being a celebrity because of it.
Aww, glad you had the kitties in your room, Dana. When I had my condo in a very small complex, my patio had a lemon tree, which was a favorite haunt of local feral cats. One of them had kittens right under it, and I would open the sliding door (with the screen still in place) and would talk softly to the mamma cat so she would know I was a friend and wouldn’t be spooked and abandon the kittens. Eventually she was captured and spayed.
Yes Marian, little kittens are irresistible!
I love the picture of you and your grandmother, Dana. And what a treat for a hotel guest to have kittens born in her closet!
Laurie, in the photo I’m holding a kitten!
That is indeed a terrific picture! I’m glad the cat finally got spayed, although I’m sure the kittens were adorable. Your grandmother sounds like such a can-do and warm person from all the stories, so nice to see her too.
Thanx Khati. My grandmother was an amazingly strong woman, looking back I realize how much so, especially for her time.
My grandfather was not a healthy man – died at 62 – and she ran that hotel almost single-handedly and was a fabulous cook to boot.
Hope you read MY HEART REMEMBERS MY GRANDMOTHER’S HOTEL!
Dana, I love this. I so enjoy the woman thinking there were mice, and you getting kitties for your stay! I love hearing about your hotelier grandma.
I, too, grew up with a Mama Kitty who over eighteen years managed to have 180 kittens, give or take. My mother advertised them (“Calico’s bring good luck”) and they went like hotcakes to baby boomers. Most were born in a closet, too, though several times under the driver’s seat on the way to NH.
Thanx Lucinda! As you can tell from all my Retro cat stories, I love them, and who can resist kittens!
And that must have been some car trip to NH!
A really cute story, Dana. And it sounds like Smokey would have had plenty of stories to tell herself –amorous and otherwise — were she still around. And, of course, not a cat.
Thanx John! And I hope you won’t cast aspersions on Smokey’s moral character!
I never judge.