Who, exactly, is this cat we call Sophia?
She’s answering that question in her own good time.
There are, needless to say, no ordinary cats. But Sophia Rosenberg is significantly less ordinary than the ordinary extraordinary.
This was oddly evident from the hour of her arrival. Among the 2,100-or-so cats in Tabby’s Place history, we’ve seen white cats and black cats and black-and-white cats. We’ve seen short-haired cats and long-haired cats and medium-haired cats.
But we’d never seen a long-, medium- and short-haired, black-and-white, brown-frosted ambery cat.
Sophia appeared as though she’d been the failing homework of a beauty-school dropout with a huge affection for Sun-In. Her fur was forty-two different lengths, bleached nearly auburn in some spots, and more 80s-asymmetrical than an entire block of New Kids. (No photographs from this era exist, because we are stupid and forget to document extraordinary things sometimes. But only because we are kissing cats instead.)
There was no evidence of trauma other than the exceedingly traumatic fashion fails, and so we simply hugged and kissed Sophia and promised her hair would grow. Sweet from the start, she was nevertheless wary of that promise, and I don’t blame her. My father told me the same thing when I was fourteen and my request for a “chin-length bob” became a she-mullet.
But sure enough, Soph’s shag grew, and the bleachy bits wafted away, and suddenly she was a beautiful, extraordinary creature. We assumed her acclimation and adoption would follow in short order, young wonder that she was.
But Sophia had a shaggier story yet to share.
When a cat first arrives at Tabby’s Place, our vet team does their best — and their best is better than anything Tina Turner sang about — to estimate an age. This is based largely on teeth, somewhat on body condition and funny things like fingernails. (There is such a thing as “old lady claws.”) On initial exam, Sophia appeared to be youngish.
But as her hair waxed lush, her health went haywire.
Upper respiratory infections are common coin among newbies. Stress + exposure to strange cats = snotspolosion. (Behold the power of science.) So, we weren’t overly alarmed when Soph started snorting and snuffling. It was nothing antibiotics couldn’t annihilate, we thought. It was ordinary, we thought.
Humans think a lot of silly things.
As the weeks went by, Sophia’s snotlitude settled in for the long haul. So, of course, did the sweet cat we’d come to cherish, marvelous mane and all. Something in us knew she was an Adoption Room 3 girl even before our age chart agreed, so we moved our mushy lady into the Little Old Ladies suite, to snot things up and snuggle us up.
At last, our vet team decided it would be necessary to do Big Things. Said things included a nasal flush and X-rays. But the Big Thing that bore the biggest discovery was a dental. On examining Sophia’s mouth, Dr. C and Denise found a gaping hole — a fistula — in the roof of her mouth on the left side, the same side as her nasal discharge.
This was clearly a case for Dr. Fantastic.
Our favorite team of specialists worked Soph up thoroughly, and they made a ferocious finding. Sophia had a stenosis, or obstruction, in her nose, most likely due to chronic infection and the buildup of scar tissue. Years of upper respiratory infections had literally remodeled Soph’s noseitechture in a foul fixer-upper.
Sophia, it seems, is an older lady after all.
Happily, Dr. Fantastic and the Fantasticlettes were able to open up Sophia’s nose temporarily using balloon therapy. (They can neither confirm nor deny that aforementioned balloon is shaped like Spongebob and says HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA.) Once Sophia has fully healed from that procedure, she’ll have a stent placed to permanently keep her nasal passage open.
And that’s where things get…ordinary.
Or at least “Tabby’s Place ordinary.” After all her oddities, Sophia is finally in good company.
Sophia, in fact, is not the first, nor the second cat at Tabby’s Place to have nasopharyngeal stenosis. She follows the noble footsteps of Maggie* and Yasmine in this quirky condition. We’re confident she will, likewise, follow then to a full recovery and full, snot-smiting health.
So, my extraordinary friends, let your freak flag and your freaky manes fly today. You are both more unique and less alone than you think. Sophia would love to snuggle and snot upon you to purr that point home.
*No, not that Maggie, an earlier Maggie, before my time and dinosaurs and the Eisenhower administration. So, circa 2004.