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Smokey Joe's amazing new family

After a tough life on the streets, and then a year in our shelter, Smokey Joe has found his home at last.

Smokey was living as a stray in Hastings when he was rescued, desexed, treated for dental issues and socialised.

Vets found that he is FIV+, and has parts of air gun pellets lodged in his palate. These can’t be removed surgically, so he has to put up with a constantly runny nose.

Smokey has also battled cystitis and has a host of other health issues – a heart murmur, anaemia, a blood parasite – and is in kidney failure.

He was brought down to Wellington to find a home through CPW, as most other shelters won’t rehome FIV+ cats. He needed to be isolated from other cats until his health stabilised, so he became one of the first cats to stay in the shelter’s brand-new wing in mid-2022.

Although Smokey Joe rallied and was eventually able to move to the main shelter, his medical needs meant he would be fostered under the Care for Life Programme, if only someone was willing to take him on.

In April 2023, Kayla was trying to convince her partner Nic to foster a cat.

“Nic wanted a dog,” she said, “But then we were house-sitting for a friend who had a cat, and Nic completely fell in love with it.”

Before long, they were agreed on fostering a rescue cat that needed a good home. One evening Kayla was on the CPW website reading out each of the cats’ stories.

When they got to Smokey’s story, Nic was in tears and both their hearts had gone out to the little cat who’d had it so tough.

Kayla immediately felt that he would fit right into their life, as she and Nic both have nasal issues and she has an auto-immune condition, just like Smokey.

She left a message at the shelter at 10pm that night, and the next day had a Sunday appointment to visit.

When they met Smokey, they just sat quietly in the corner near him. “He was super-peaceful, super-calm. The lady said she’d never seen him so calm.”

They were there for 30-45 minutes and heard all about his health issues, but they weren’t put off at all: “That snottiness is a positive for us,” Nic says. Kayla adds: “It’s endearing.”

On Wednesday, they brought him home to their comfortable inner-city apartment, where he spent the first ten minutes under the bed before coming out to smooch them. He spent a couple of days in the bedroom before gradually exploring the house.

“He was very smoochy,” Kayla says. “He connected really well. If he wants to be left alone, he’ll tap you, not scratch. He’s not aggressive at all.”

In the couple of months since Smokey has had his own home, his blood results have improved. As Kayla says: “He’s in bad health, but it’s stable bad health!”

He loves spending time with his new folks, who make him forts out of cushions and blankets.

“He’ll sleep on us or between,” Kayla says. “I’ll wake up and he’s looming over me: ‘Good morning!’ He’s so snuggly in the morning.”

“He’s like my wee shadow, he just follows me around the house.”

He’ll even follow her to the toilet and use his litter tray at the same time. “I think it’s the cutest thing ever.

“He’s got such a personality. When he’s comfy, he’s the sweetest – as long as you respect his boundaries!”


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