Here is the story of Smellypoo. After graduating from college and finally living on my own, I decided to get my very own cat. I researched the different breeds, wanting to make an informed choice. Ragdolls sounded perfect – a big fluffy loving companion! I found a breeder in my state at the time (Georgia) and drove a couple of hours to pick up my new kitten, the best $500 I have ever spent. As soon as he was placed, purring, in my lap, I awkwardly blurted out “I’ll take him!” already completely smitten.
I named him Caspian, after the fictional prince in Narnia. I have a few nicknames for him (“my fluffy prince,” “my baby prince,” and especially “my princely prince,”) but the name that stuck was awful and still embarrassing to admit (especially to all you Ragdoll lovers reading this!)
It started as a joke, arising from what was his admittedly quite smelly poo. It was such a contrast to how exquisitely beautiful he was! I think that is why it was so funny in the beginning. Somehow the words transformed in time to just one word that had nothing to do with smells or poo. It was just his adorable, silly self, represented in a ridiculously awful nickname that became simply the word for HIM.
I expected him to grow into a huge cat like his father (a massive, long cat I saw at the breeder’s) and looked forward to it, but Smellypoo stayed tiny and never made it past 8 pounds. He had a delightful sense of wonder about the world. He was so innocent and pure of heart, without that typical cat cleverness when it comes to manipulating their human to do what they want. He often seemed confused about things, but it just added to his charm.
He wanted to be friends with everyone, even the scraggly black stranger cat that sneaked into my parent’s house at night to snatch food. Our three family cats (even the two that HATED each other) presented a united front, all three of them hissing together at the cat door to keep the intruder out. A couple of nights later, I found Smellypoo just saying “Hello, new friend?” to the scraggly cat through the glass French doors.
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He was not a “lap cat,” but he would snuggle next to me on the couch, and he was happy to be picked up and held in my arms like a baby. He followed me when I went to the bathroom, just wanting to be near me. I would occasionally wake in the morning to find him nestled in a tiny ball against my right shoulder (and only ever at my right shoulder). I would nuzzle him with my face and listen to his purrs. Those were the best mornings!
He never touched wet food, had absolutely zero interest in it, as if he did not recognize it as something edible. Knowing what I do now about how horrible most pet food is, and how unhealthy dry food can be, I regret that I kept him on a mostly Fancy Feast dry food diet his whole life. In retrospect, I think it may have contributed to the whole “smelly” situation with his poo.
He peed in the litter box like a good boy, but always pooed immediately outside it despite all my efforts to change that. I eventually gave up and just kept newspaper down next to the litter box for him. He would often get messy, soft or liquid poo stuck on his booty fur that I had to bring him to the sink to wash off. He hated that, but let me do it without too much struggle.
This poo consistency issue is also something that in retrospect was likely due to his diet. I just accepted it as one of his quirks, but I definitely regret it now that I know better (thanks to the wonderful Floppycats website and community).
I tried giving him a full bath once, with cat shampoo and everything, wanting to groom him like a fancy cat. Without his fur dry and fluffy, he looked so small, no bigger than a kitten! I ended up crying on the floor of my bathroom, trying to get the suds cleaned from him as fast as possible. “I’m sorry, baby! I’m soooo sorry!”
He did not struggle or fight me, but his little cries of despair and betrayal, his trembling kitten sized body, along with my tears at having to keep going to wash it all off despite how upset he was, convinced me NEVER to attempt to bathe him again!
After he had a urinary infection and came home still sleepy and loopy from painkillers, Smellypoo discovered a completely new way of drinking. Too sleepy to make the effort to lick it up, he rested his chin on the edge of the glass of water and had the ingenious idea of simply opening his mouth and letting the water flow in.
From that day forth, Smellypoo never resorted to the time consuming feline method of lapping up drinking water with his tongue. Drinking now involved a soaking wet chin, plopped right into the water to take easy gulps. He would try to shake the wetness from his chin like a dog, with little success, his chest fur curling from the water that dripped down. He was very proud of his genius discovery!
A couple of years after I got him, I moved in with my sister who had a black domestic shorthair shelter cat named Satine (Teeny). She is the smartest cat I have ever known, kind of a yin yang with Smellypoo in that respect. If she were actually a human who had run afoul of a witch and was cursed to live as a cat, I would not be entirely surprised.
At first, Smellypoo would follow Teeny all around the apartment, constantly two inches from her behind, wanting desperately to be best friends, to her great annoyance. His persistence eventually wore her down though, capturing her heart in the process.
They became so deeply bonded that when my sister moved into her own place, Teeny yowled like crazy at the door, literally all night, non-stop, until my sister brought her back the next morning to be with Smellypoo. As difficult as it was for my sister, she knew that giving her up was the best thing for Teeny, and for Smellypoo. That’s how Teeny became my cat. She simply refused to be separated from him.
He was equally devoted to Teeny. They cuddled constantly and groomed each other (which was a much bigger task for her considering all his fluffy fur!) I think she saw him as a little brother she needed to take care of.
One night he somehow managed to find an opening from an in process bathtub remodel into the foundation of my parent’s house. I spent hours calling his name in the backyard, desperate to find him. Then, finally, I heard a little “mew” from a vent opening under the house.
It was Teeny, who watched me call out for Smellypoo, understood the situation and went to find and rescue him! She brought him to that opening and alerted us to their location. As soon as we managed to get a panel nearby opened, she bolted, having done her heroic job and wanting to be out of the dark, dirty place!
I was always paranoid about Smellypoo slipping out the door, not trusting that he would be able to find his way back or to stay away from cars or threats of any kind. I used to have long, elaborate nightmares about Smellypoo getting lost, with me desperately searching but unable to find him. That was a constant theme in my dreams for all the years I had Smellypoo. I still get them sometimes, which hurts even more when I wake up and remember he’s not there.
Something both my cats demanded constantly was what we call “tent,” which meant me laying in bed with my knees up to create a spot for them to lay in under my blanket. I would keep it up as long as I could, but eventually, my legs would be too sore, or I would have to abandon the tent to use the bathroom.
Teeny would politely tap on the blanket by my thigh and look me in the eye until I fulfilled her request. Smellypoo would push his head into the blanket by my knee as if to burrow under me. It was like he did not quite understand how “tent” actually worked and that he needed to go under the blanket from the edge. When they both wanted to be in there, we’d have “double-tent.” They would purr and groom each other – or snuggle and sleep, cozy and content.
For fourteen years, Smellypoo was my baby. Teeny feels more like company, like a beloved friend, as she came into my life as an adult cat, for which I am eternally grateful. She is a wonderful cat that I absolutely adore! However, I raised Smellypoo from kittenhood and always felt more of a maternal bond with him.
I would hold him in my arms like a baby and sing to him, replacing words in popular music to make the songs about him. He was with me through multiple boyfriends and several moves, including coming with me from Georgia after a break-up back to my home state of California and a temporary move back in with my parents. Through all the ups and downs, he was a constant source of love and affection. I was completely devastated when I lost him.
I came home from work one day in June of 2016, went upstairs and picked Smellypoo up to cradle him in my arms. I kissed his forehead, said “hello, princely prince,” and gave him a couple “hello treats,” all part of our daily routine. Then I went downstairs to watch a little TV with my sister. Ten minutes or so later we laughed, hearing him running around like a “crazy cat” upstairs, as he often did after successfully pooing.
Twenty minutes after saying our last hello, I opened the door and walked into my bedroom to find him dead on the floor. It came out of nowhere. No warning. No illness. Probably a heart attack, they said.
I have never in my life felt pain like that, laying on the floor of the hallway for hours, holding him in my arms, sobbing, refusing to let him go, needing to cuddle with him a little longer, to pretend he was still there and my heart wasn’t in a million pieces at my feet.
Smellypoo had always been so perfectly healthy! I was certain he would live for several more years. I remember sobbing, “I was supposed to have children before this happened!” The idea of his death was so impossibly painful I had reasoned that the only way I would be able to survive the loss was if I had children of my own by then to cushion the blow.
His death sent me into a deep depression. I did not bother to wear makeup at all for months, going to work barefaced and not caring anymore what I looked like. I stopped exercising, stopped all dating efforts and often cried in my car on the commute home.
Everyone has their own way of grieving after a tremendous loss. I found mine in a single-minded dedication to commissioning portraits of Smellypoo. I was heartbroken to realize how few pictures I actually had of him, and none by a decent camera with good lighting, many not even in focus! I think that fueled my need to have more images of my princely prince.
Searching for inexpensive artists on etsy.com and fiverr.com, I had over 30 portraits made of him. I spent nearly all of my “travel someday” savings (about $1300, but totally worth it to me) on what I called my “Ode to Smellypoo.”
He has been painted by incredible artists from around the world – Ukraine, Italy, Hong Kong, England, Moldova, Germany, Greece, Venezuela, Russia and more! I treasured the idea of artists across the globe spending hours trying to capture his special beauty, sweetness and infinite wonder. Each portrait felt like another way to honor him, to tell him how much I loved him and to show him how immensely important he was to me.
I started to heal a few months later when I got my new kitten, Belle, also a Ragdoll, as his “legacy kitty.” I will submit a Ragdoll of the Week for her someday too! I also had a couple of psychic mediums that communicated with his spirit, giving me comforting assurances he was still with me and would be, forever.
I still talk to him every day, knowing in my heart that his spirit is with me. I tell him what a good job we are doing raising Belle because I think of him like Belle’s honorary Daddy.
It is difficult to find the right words to express just how deeply I love him, how vital he was to filling my heart and soul with love for so many years, and how much his loving presence still brings me joy.
Smellypoo’s death absolutely gutted me, but I have come to a bittersweet peace with it. As horribly cruel the suddenness of it felt, I am deeply grateful that I got to hold my baby prince in my arms and say “hello” that one last time.
Do you have a Ragdoll Kitten or Cat? Consider submitting your kitty! Ragdoll of the Week submission guidelines