Happy Tail: Smaug

A little over a year ago, Hana and her partner welcomed Smaug into their home.

Smaug, formerly known as Valentino, is a large fluffy male cat found by Annex Cat Rescue near a colony early last summer. He was immediately friendly and trusting, leading rescuers to believe he had been lost for some time — or possibly abandoned — and was brought in to be fostered until he found a forever home.

Valentino on the street

Valentino spent just a couple of months with foster Charlie and her partner. They knew they wouldn’t get to keep him for very long. “I knew the first person who saw him would take him,” Charlie explains. “Valentino was the first cat we fostered, and he was the sweetest. We got super-lucky.”

Charlie and her partner love animals, but were in the process of becoming permanent residents of Canada at the time and weren’t ready to adopt, so they decided to open their home to foster animals instead. “We already had a dog in our apartment, and we were concerned about how they would get along, but they were both very chill and had their own space. Valentino was the perfect cat to introduce into our house, for sure,” she says.

Valentino with roomie

“Honestly, we probably would have been an automatic ‘foster fail’ [because we liked him so much] if we weren’t waiting [to adopt] until we had more of a permanent place here,” she jokes. “I really like Annex Cat Rescue, and I hope that lots of other people will either consider fostering if they can’t give a permanent home to a cat, or even adopting from the ACR. They bring in really good cats, and they’re really good people,” says Charlie.

Hana and her partner had wanted to adopt a cat for a long time and learned about ACR through a friend. “Our friend is a vet tech. If someone found a litter of kittens and brought them to his clinic, Annex Cat Rescue would try to get them adopted,” she says. “He really recommended them.”

They met Valentino (Smaug) at his foster home and knew immediately that he would be a good fit. “We saw Smaug and he just seemed so perfect.” He was relaxed and friendly and was already asking for belly rubs. “When we met him, the first thing he did was roll over on his back and show us his belly. It was the cutest thing I had ever seen, and totally solidified our decision,” she says.

Smaug - beautiful cat

When they brought him home he was a bit timid but couldn’t resist when Hana put out some food. “He came out and actually started rolling around on the floor and asking for getting belly rubs,” she laughs. “He is quite a sociable cat. Even when we have people over he doesn’t necessarily hide, he doesn’t feel anxious around people which is great.”

Hana and her partner took the first few days to get a feel for Valentino’s personality while he was getting used to things and figuring out where his favourite spots were in the house. Eventually, they decided to change his name. His lazy, comfortable demeanor didn’t fit with the name Valentino.


“We felt like Valentino was a really sassy name, but he was always lying around wanting belly rubs and hoarding his food, so we were like, ‘He’s basically a baby dragon. He eats a lot and sleeps a lot, he’s a dragon.’” His name is a Lord of the Rings reference to the dragon in The Hobbit. “About five or six months after we got him, we got a big tapestry of the dragon for the living room. We like putting him in front of it because [the contrast] is funny. The dragon looks so menacing and [Smaug] looks like this fluffy weirdo,” Hana jokes.

Smaug’s big loves? Food, mouse toys, Hana’s lip balm, and his cat tower.

“Sometimes things go missing and I look under the couch and find all these random small items of mine. It’s his dragon’s horde!” she laughs.

Reflecting on the past year with Smaug, Hana says, “Cats have a really weird way of showing affection. They’re all really unique with how they want to interact with you. People often think they don’t give you enough love because they aren’t dogs, but I find they’re just more particular about how they show you love. Their sassy quality is so much fun.”

–Jessica Pellerin

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