Sophie the Black Cat

Opinion—Pets speak, but we have to understand their language (part two)


Read part one.

Although I have had many dozens of pets throughout my life, I never made it a practice to take my pets to the veterinarian for a regular checkup. My attitude was, “It’s a dog!” or “It’s a cat!” or “It’s a bird!” If it gets sick and dies, I’ll get another one.

Even though I loved all of my pets, I never had any one of them long enough to get emotionally attached to them, probably because I was too involved in doing people things— working, traveling, partying, going to concerts, eating out….

It wasn’t until Thanksgiving Day 2006 when something happened.

Jim and I had been together since May 26, 1994, and I had been without a pet of any kind since April 15, 1993, when I left Penney & Sugar behind in Texas and went off to do a little bit of euthanasia on myself.

On November 23, 2006, a stray black cat showed up at our house out in the boondocks. I gave it food and water. It ate, drank, and left. I never expected to see it again, figuring it was just passing through.

Sophie the Black CatOn Christmas Eve 2006, it showed up again. I’m thinking, “Hmmmm. A cat that knows human holidays….” I gave it food and water (picture at left). It ate, drank, and stayed….

Jim had grown up with cats. I had cats, but they were outdoor cats, so I would only see them when their hunting expedition had been unsuccessful on any night and they came home for food.

We both got emotionally attached to that little black cat. We named her Sophie and tried to make an indoor cat out of her. When dusk arrived each evening, though, Sophie would howl like a coyote until we let her out.

Sophie on fenceI think what I liked most about Sophie is that she would follow us around, just like a dog, and I always had been pretty much a dog person. When I was in the gardens, she was right there with me. She would follow us down the street to the mailbox and to the upper part of the lot to pull weeds. She was comfortable in the house…. until the sun went down.

Sophie the Black CatWhen we decided to move out of the boondocks and into a condominium in an East San Diego County suburb, we took Sophie with us. She used to follow us around on the walkways, and while we were in the hot tub or swimming pool, she was in the trees checking out everything to make sure we were safe.Sophie the Black Cat

We had been in our condominium for only five months when I got a phone call at 6:00 on the morning of September 20, 2007. It was a neighbor a street over calling to tell me that she had found Sophie’s body in the street, had moved the body up to a curb, and had placed a towel over the body. I thanked her for her compassion, jumped in the car, and went to get Sophie.

Sophie graveI uncovered Sophie to make sure it was her. I never should have done that—it’s an image that is with me to this day. Her little body, including her head, was smashed flat. I spent a couple of minutes crying before I put her in the car, took her to our old home in the boondocks, which we had not sold yet, and buried her, still crying. I marked her grave with a little cat face and whiskers made out of little stones (picture above).

I cried for several hours, and when Jim got up, I told him what had happened. We hugged each other, and cried together.

I told Jim that I wanted to go to the animal shelter and get a cat, an indoor cat, because I didn’t ever want to see a pet’s body again that had been crushed and killed by a car.

We got Zoey the Cool Cat on September 21, 2007. We saw her on September 20, but she wasn’t available for adoption until September 21, and they would not put her on hold. It was first come, first serve. We got to the animal shelter 15 minutes before they opened on September 21 so that we would first in line and could get Zoey.

Zoey was her name when we adopted her, but after just a few hours in our home, I snapped this picture of her:

She looks a little relaxed, probably happy to be out of that animal shelter. I thought it so cool the way she just took over my office chair. I pictured her daydreaming, “I like this place. It’s cool. I’ll stay.” That was when I added “the Cool Cat” to her name. I always referred to her as Zoey the Cool Cat, never just Zoey. Jim and other people would shorten her name to just Zoey, but never me.

I thought there only was going to be a part 2, but after writing about Sophie and seeing her pictures again, I need to take a break. I have tears in my eyes, heartbroken about how these two cats left us. I’ll finish this tomorrow with part 3 about why Zoey the Cool Cat’s death is completely my fault. She should have been able to live several more years if not for my own ignorance, stupidity, and stubbornness.

Rest in peace my two precious little ones.Sophie the Black Cat

17 thoughts on “Opinion—Pets speak, but we have to understand their language (part two)

  1. Merrilee ‘Annie’ Morgan

    As hard as it is try to go a bit easier on yourself. It would have been impossible to convince Sophia who was raised with the freedom of being outdoors to stay inside and be happy. Once they’ve known about the wonders waiting outside they are only content having some time being able to enjoy them. We tried with one of the strays we took in, but as much as he loved being inside near us, he was miserable if he didn’t get to outside for some daily exploration, to the point of tearing a hole in a screen door to do so. He managed to escape the coyotes where we live, but yet we lost him at age 5 to a genetic heart condition which no amount of additional vet visits could have fixed. And while Zoey might have lived a bit longer with more frequent vet visits, she had 12 of the most wonderful years a cat could have being loved and pampered by you and Jim. Knowing that doesn’t erase or ease the pain when we lose them, but we do the best we can at the time. Your new Olivia will benefit from your experience and hopefully have many, many happy, healthy years.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. philosophermouseofthehedge

        Been there, too. (RC Cat was rescued and kept inside due to similar horror with a previous cat. RC still attempts breaks out the door but I am not beyond a flying tackle to stop her.)
        Soft paw salute in sympathy from our realm to yours.
        Cherished Zoey will never be forgotten

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Giovannoni Claudine

    Some humans are embarrassed to realize how important “pets” are in their lives… especially men.
    These little (or bigger) creatures, sentients beings, are part of a good life trusted to be lived. We strongly need them… we couldn’t be without them at all. Tens of thousends of years ago, back men’s in history, we found wolves… and little by little they became man’s best friend. Doesn’t matter where we look (the one we just call) animals are there, sharing with us this beautiful planet.
    I’m living with cats since al most sixty years… each one of them is, or was, a family member, I ran to the ved each time I saw one of them being sick. I’m egoistical, but the last five, now lives indoors without problems (ok the house is big), at least there wont be any car accident or poisoned one. The only one problem is our sufferance when one dies, since usually a cat when he’s really sick he go somewhere to hide and die away from your eyes.
    Be in peace, and go again to the shelter to free a lovely companion which will give you a lot of “speech lessons” and tenderness. Hugs 🙂 claudine (a truly cat’s lover)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I’m always hard on myself when I realize that I was wrong about something, ignorant about something, irresponsible about something. Being hard on myself helps me grow and learn.


  3. Pingback: Opinion—Pets speak, but we have to understand their language (part three) | Russel Ray Photos

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