S he came to us five years ago, sick, nearly starved to death, full of infection from having lost her last litter of kittens--we're sure she had nothing physically to sustain those offspring, and having lived for an unknown period of time on the street. She had recently been in some kind of altercation and had a wound over her right eye that had affected her ability to focus. She was a complete mess. And why we even thought about keeping her is a complete mystery to me now. But one of my daughters was visiting, the one that had become a "cat person" over the years, and she challenged us to either (1) take her to animal control and have her euthanized, or (2) take her to the vet, have her tested and checked out, and decide then what to do. (Her offer to pay for the vet visit helped us decide to go that route.)
Sophie was indeed a mess. She had mastitis, was full of parasites, tested positive for feline HIV, and needed lots of good meals. Yet the vet was sure that she hadn't manifested any signs of AIDS, wasn't a threat to any other animals, and could expect to live a good life as long as she was not put in situations where her immune system was challenged. As she was an inside cat, we took her home.
And so began the saga of Sophie as a part of our family. We named her that because she was all black, and had the most amazing sea-green eyes--almond shaped and so very mysterious. Just like that illusive thing called "Sophia" by the Greeks--wisdom and mystery. She was very shy and reticent. She hissed and rumbled at the picture of a gray wolf we had hanging on the office wall. She hid under the beds whenever anyone came to the house, but she began to accept the fact that she was a part of a family, even getting along famously with our English Shepherd, Mickey. She fattened up, got rid of her parasites, and we spayed her as soon as her infections were eliminated.
Sophie loved to sit on people's laps, especially when we were working at the computer. I don't know if it was because we were sitting in a cramped space and that made her feel more secure, or if she just took a liking to the fact that we were sitting in the same place for long periods. She would also decide which lap was preferable each evening as we were sitting down to watch the evening news and such. The rest of the time she was silent skulking around the house, and after our second rescue English Shepherd Beau came to live with us (he was a tri-color--black, white, and tan), she and Beau began to take their naps together. When Beau had a stroke about two years ago, Sophie seemed to be the one who took this absence the hardest.
Three months ago, right after moving to Tennessee, Sophie's tail quit working--she no longer swished it around like most cats do, but simply dragged it around behind her. We didn't think much about it as we had moved recently and thought perhaps she had injured it in some way during the move. Then 10 days ago the rear half of her body began dragging on the floor. We took her to the vet--I was concerned that she may have had a small stroke--and found out that all the disks in her rear spine were gone and she had significant arthritis in her pelvic region. We began the usual treatments of anti arthritic meds and steroids in low doses to curb the discomfort, but she just got less and less mobile over those few days. My "cat" daughter said that cats suffer in silence, that they are the world's most pronounced stoics. So it was with Sophie and by Memorial Day weekend, she wasn't even moving to come out for her feedings. We were taking the food to her. She was making it to the cat box less and less, and we knew she had to be in pain. Walking was a very obvious chore.
So hubby and I made the hard decision, and on Tuesday we said good-bye to our good and faithful friend. She was meowing to us plaintively as they took her back into the inner regions of the vet's offices, and we sat their grieving as we waited for them to bring back our cat carrier.
I guess we know that when we take these marvelous creatures into our lives and homes we will have to endure this kind of experience. That doesn't make it any easier. And having Sophie for only five years doesn't seem fair. She was such a good companion to Vashti and our dogs. Mickey and Beau are both gone now as well, but our present English Shepherd, Murphy, has been pacing around the house at all hours trying to find her. Vashti has been all over us the last two days, just as she was when Mickey died. We know that we are not the only ones who miss her. Hubby and I know that we miss her terribly already, but we are blessed to have had her in our lives. Go With God, Sophie.