Every cat deserves attention.
Every cat deserves to be marveled at.
But very few cats cause every single observer to exclaim, “Oh, my!”
It never fails. Whether it’s a first-time visitor on a tour, a new volunteer, or the dryer repair man, the reaction is guaranteed. Crack the door to the Community Room, lead the unsuspecting human inside, and BAM: “Oh, my!”
I realize I’m making the dryer repair man sound like he’s on Downton Abbey. “Oh, my!” is just the simplest translation of every essentially identical utterance:
“What kind of cat is that?”
And who, you ask, is the source of all this astonishment? Just take a look.
Be honest. You just “oh my”-ed, didn’tcha?
Don’t be embarrassed. You’re having a normal reaction to an abnormal individual. (But, as we’ve learned, abnormality is the best kind of reality.) Sophia is a living, snoring “oh my.”
Let’s deal with the obvious first. Sophia is larger than the average sofa. Sophia has hair long enough to braid. Sophia breathes and purrs and snores like a tractor at all times.
Sophia is glorious.
Of all our unusual cats (and there is no other kind), Sophia vies for the Most Unusual medal. She wasn’t always quite this enormous, and her hair was actually weirdly cropped when she first came to us. But over time, she’s accumulated a glory all her own, and no one can keep from commenting on it.
Neither can Sophia keep from commenting, on everything, through her nose. Sophia sadly suffers from rhinitis, or in laywoman’s terms, “the snuffliest snorkliest schnoz east of the Sahara.” Sophia is continually congested, and all the medications and procedures in the world haven’t completely cured her. To keep her breathing — I won’t say “breathing easy,” since it’s not — we lock her in a carrier every day at 1pm, and basically steam her like a bucket of broccoli. I’m sure our vet team would prefer that I say we “provide her nebulizing treatment,” but let’s be honest with ourselves here.
(And, if that visual is understandably difficult, I assure you; Sophia’s entire self does fit into an average cat carrier. Good thing cats can become liquid at a moment’s notice.)
Sophia’s life is not, you understand, “easy.” Few of us would sign up to be steamed like a bucket of broccoli every 1pm.
But few of us are as placid, as limpid, as lovely as Sophia.
Soph shrugs off the daily indignity, just as she does dandruff (which she’s prone to accumulate like Alpen snow) and kittens (who have the unfortunate habit of coming to the Community Room on occasion) and people who fail to recognize her majesty (who are fortunately few in number). Sophia’s preferred coping mechanism is to dream, perchance to snore, and to lap up love like a billion buckets of cheese-covered broccoli, hold the broccoli.
It must be noted that this unusual cat bears an unusually apt name. “Sophia” is also the Greek word for “wisdom,” and it doesn’t take a philosopher to see that Soph has it in spades. She beautifies her world with her bat-guano-crazy hair and her bountiful bigness and, most of all, with that unshakeable peace that is her trademark feature.
Frankly, Sophia’s sort of peace sometimes shakes us lesser creatures. How can a mere mortal — even a feline — dream through life so serenely, unscathed by the daily frustrations and failings and flaws of this world? While I might end up in tears if the wi-fi goes down, Sophia would respond to reports of thermonuclear war by stretching full-length on the Community Room table for an epic nap.
(And make no mistake: when Sophia stretches full-length on the Community Room table, as she is wont to do during serious staff meetings, we’re all liable to forget about thermonuclear war and wi-fi. Such glory takes precedence.)
So whether this day finds you studying Socrates, slogging through the salt mines of Somalia,* or stretched full-length on your sofa with the stomach flu, I hope Sophia-wisdom finds you. You may have to face the same struggles at 1pm tomorrow as you did today — and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, too — but there will be dreams to dance around you and to carry you where you need to go.
Even if you’re the size of a sofa.
*Clearly I have an excellent sense of our reader demographic.