Some cats are hard to name. They wander into your world and you study them for unique markings. You observe their behavior and you cast around for historical, literary, musical, or just plain stupid references. You develop a new appreciation for George Foreman. But nothing seems to fit that cat.
Other cats walk into your life with a name that cannot be denied. It’s like they emerge from the forest with a sign saying “Call me Ishmael.” Smudge’s sign said “Call me Smudge,” loud and clear. (I have to admit it was tempting to name him Ishmael. But I get funny looks when I suggest stuff like that, so I kept that thought to myself. He was Smudge.)
Smudge was a handsome guy. If it wasn’t for his eponymous white smear we would have struggled to tell him from the other tuxedo cats in the colony, especially Tux. (Another cat, another missed chance for Ishmael.) Smudge was attentive but cautious around us. He seemed proud to show off for the camera and was willing to stay near the bowl as we filled it, but that was his limit.
Smudge was a loner in the colony. He got along with the other cats but never seemed close to any of them. In fact, when Loretta reviewed her photos for pictures of Smudge there were none with other cats in the frame. On the other hand, skunks were happy to hang with Smudge.
They knew that someone who looked like that had to be a good guy.
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