Seventeen years ago, in forty degree Celsius heat, while painting the hallway of our new house, I met a tiny ginger kitten. She was small, fluffy and curious and held in the hand of our new neighbour who explained the person she had bought her for didn’t want her. Didn’t want her? I tore my enraptured eyes away and looked at my partner who shrugged, then the kitten was mine.
What a kitten she was. Sofia I named her, which may seem unusual for a fluffy kitten (it means ‘wise’) but she did seem to know how to get herself into trouble. I enjoy my animals and they appear to enjoy me. This small fluffy creature was no exception. My older cat, Mr Wicca, was not impressed but my kelpie was. Whenever Mr W growled or threatened her, my kelpie would run to the rescue and poke him with her long hard nose. I am quite sure the kitten set up a few of these instances for try as she might, she could not win over Mr W. She was compensated by the hours spent snuggling up on the dogs’ bed, to Sunny Girl’s delight and the other dogs’ disgust. None of them were allowed to touch her until kitten hood had worn away and Sunny lost interest.
Until then, Sofia explored everywhere and pounced upon everyone, sure of her welcome or protection. The only space Mr W had was curled up next to me on our bed. That is until the day Sofia finally managed to climb up the bedcovers to reach the top. I have never seen a kitten quite so delighted with herself. Mr W stiffened and stopped purring on sight of her. She pranced up the bed and was so pleased that she began grooming his cheek. Mr W relaxed slightly. Sofia got carried away with her success and excitedly began grooming him more and more enthusiastically until she was so overwhelmed that she bit him.
It took years and his final illness before she won him over. Sofia was ever convinced that everyone was her friend, except the cats next door and my friend’s dog who chased her to the top of the shed. (I still don’t quite know how she got up there.) She was never quite the same after that.
My bath time held interest for her. As I relaxed she would jump to the side of the bath, walk out across my shoulder, down my side to my hip. There she would sit and I would laugh. As I laughed, the water vibrated and moved. Ears and whiskers pricked forward, Sofie would bat at the water and I would laugh harder, the water move more and eventually she would be elbows in and I would be slightly hysterical. I would roll her back to the edge for her own safety.
I have never known a cat to enjoy water as much as my Sofie did as a kitten. The ground level bird bath often had leaves on the bottom that I would dutifully clean out. Sofie liked to get to them first and up to her shoulders in the water, she would chase the leaves across the bottom. Funny kitty.
When Mr W died, we were inconsolable, Sofia and I. She had spent the last two years grooming him and curling around him gently, lending her warmth, communing with him in the sun in the garden. Only by herself would she play. Like the night the last of the sun coincided with the front lights and tiny insects danced in the beams. Sofia, up on hind legs, danced through the swarm, batting at the insects, hopping across the lawn.
Sofie was my co-conspirator in many things but particularly in our efforts to rid ourselves of ugly teapots. I love teapots, the round kind. Even though I would say, please don’t give me character pots, guess what I got? I lined them up along the edge of the high cupboards where Sofie liked to sprawl and one by one she stretched and pushed them down. Cats have a strong sense of humour and Sofie was amused by the smashing of the pots. Ears and whiskers pricked forward she would look over the side of the cupboards to where the pot lay broken on the floor. I’ve never known a cat to look as pleased with herself as my Sofia.
She was not pleased when two kittens came to live with us. She did not like them. She made sure her displeasure was known. Even after over a decade together they are still not friends. None of them are young but my Sofia is eldest of all.
Seventeen years old, skeletally thin due to a thyroid condition, she is still happy, amused and relaxed. She will insist that I sit in my chair and lean back so she can sit on my shoulder and chest and purr into my ear. She loves me my Sofia. I am her source of pleasure equal to a cushion in the sun and sometimes better. She doesn’t go far anymore, once my great adventurer, and she makes sure she is home when I am home.
In her twilight years I will give her everything I can for I have loved every moment she had chosen to be with me.