My Four-Legged Lucky Charm By: Dr. Jennifer Walker

Smokey Joe

This is the tale of the luckiest family in Knoxville. 

Lauren and Smokey Joe

    When I think of why I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, it was for precisely reasons like saving Smokey Joe.  Smokey Joe is a cat who joined our family just under a year ago.  He was born with a birth defect causing his front legs to angle inward.  His  front paws are distorted and his nails grow curled and bent.  He is polydactyl, has extra digits/toes, on his back paws as well. His first family was unable to care for Smokey and could not find anyone willing to adopt him.  They were considering having him euthanized when one of their children reached out to my daughter hoping I could help.

     I still remember the day they drove up our driveway.  We were NOT looking for another furry family member.  I had thought that I might be able to help the little kitten and find it a good home.  Smokey had never been outside and his eyes were wide and curious.  I ushered everyone in and he took off with his now classic “army crawl” and “kangaroo jumps.” In fact, that is how he got his name: “Smokey” for his his gun smoke color and “Joe” because he bounds like a baby kangaroo, a joey.
Radiograph showing deformity

   

Smokey Joe would crawl or hop up to someone, plop down, roll over and expose his underbelly begging to be pet.  (He incessantly nudges with his head to get his point across if you are too slow at interpreting his message.)   He is truly one of the happiest and best natured cats around.


     I knew right away that his “defects” were beyond traditional repair.  Splints could no longer help Smokey.  His joints are fused and the bones are irregular.  He would never be “normal.” I also knew that his little body had adapted amazingly well!  His back legs have developed large muscles and his extra toes allow him to balance and bound better than any “normal” cat. I knew he could have a good and happy life.  He may require a little special care, but we think he is worth it- and that makes him a perfect part of our family.  


James and Smokey Joe

Interesting Fact:
Polydactyl cats often found their way onto boats because sailors believed they were good luck. They were widely recognized as top-notch mousers, and their extra toes were thought to give them better balance while sailing the high seas.  
Therefore, we are surely the luckiest family in Knoxville and maybe Frederick too! 🙂
-Dr. Jennifer Walker
Kingsbrook Animal Hospital