The other night, as Steve and I were leaving for our gig, I noticed that Smokey was frantically licking himself in an awkward spot on his neck. He'd lick for about 20 seconds, then he'd scratch that spot with his back foot, claws out. What the heck? I laid him on his side for a closer look and was alarmed to see that he had scratched all the fur off a circular spot on his neck. In the middle was some angry red, swollen skin with a hole that was oozing pus. Smokey barely notice me. He was so intent on licking and scratching that I couldn't have stopped him if I tried. I noticed that he was scratching to get the pus out, then he'd lick it clean. I was worried. Did he tangle with a snake or a poisonous insect? Steve ruled out the snake, but thought it definitely could have been a scorpion sting. We caught a large one in our house the other night that Smokey had been chasing around. We had to leave, and I wondered if we would come home to a very sick, or even dead, cat. I said a silent prayer, and we left. When we got home, he was still scratching and licking. He continued all night long, though I noticed he took some breaks to nap. In the morning he greeted me with a rub against my leg. I examined his wound and found that the swelling was greatly reduced, the skin was no longer red, and the hole was wide open and clean. Smokey seemed relaxed but tired. He laid around all morning and then wanted out. He was well. I felt such awe for his animal instinct that knew exactly what to do to heal himself. I'd like to be that sure about what to do when I've got a physical emergency. I want to automatically start doing the exact right thing to help the healing process. It is inspiring to see a creature who clearly knows how to do this. Here is a picture of Smokey later that day as the wound was starting to scab over. My camera wouldn't focus clearly, but at least I got something.