Today is Black Cat Appreciation Day, so Zoey the Cool Cat wanted me to share the story of how she came to be Queen of this house.
On Thanksgiving day of 2006, a feral black cat strayed into my yard. It looked at me with sorrowful eyes, seeming to ask, “Do you have any food and water for me?” I put out some milk. While it was drinking, I rushed down to the corner store to get a small can of cat food. When I got back, the milk was gone but the cat was still there. I put the cat food on a plate and set it as close to the cat as I could get. Within minutes the food was gone and black cat (hereafter, BC) went to sit on a fence post.
Unfortunately, minutes after eating, BC was gone, too. Never saw it again…..
…..until Christmas Eve.
Hmmm. Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. I thought black cats only celebrated Halloween….
I put out some water (I think it was my mother-in-law who told me not to give cats milk) and rushed down to the corner store again to get another can of cat food.
This time I bought three cans, thinking that the cat might come around more often than once a month. And if this cat celebrated holidays by coming to my place, well, Christmas was tomorrow and New Year’s Eve and Day were just a week away….
I put a plate of cat food out. BC ate the food, drank the water, and….
….collapsed on the asphalt to rest before eventually sheltering itself under a bush:
BC stayed for a couple of hours, but as soon as the sun went down, BC was gone. Hunters must hunt.
Bright and early the next morning, BC was back. Yahooooooooooooooooooooo!
My wise old grandmother, who had adopted a few billion feral cats (we called them “alley cats”) during her lifetime, many of them tripods, always told me that if you feed a cat, the cat is yours. At the time I didn’t know if that meant that I owned the cat because I had spent money on it, or if the cat owned me because it approved of my actions. I now know it’s the latter.
I became BC’s new Chief of Staff.
We were able to determine that BC was a she, so Jim named her Sophie. She became part of our lives, eventually making it into and through the garage and taking over our home office.
Each day Sophie would present to me a gift from her hunting expedition. Mostly lizards and gophers, I felt like they were especially for me. I didn’t mind losing a few gophers to this skilled hunter, but I really liked my lizards…………..
Alas, I figured that if Sophie could catch them, then there must be too many of them. Population control and all that. Never really convinced myself of that, so I tried instead to believe that losing the lizards was a tradeoff for getting rid of the gophers. Never really convinced myself of that, either.
One day Sophie brought me a hummingbird. That really broke my heart, so I thought I would try to convert her into an indoor cat. It looked like I was succeeding.
See how she’s winking at me? I now believe she was thinking, “This guy’s cool, and I’ll make him think that he’s converting me so he’ll keep giving me food, but I’ll never be 100% an indoor cat. Too many lizards and gophers in this world…..”
We moved just six months later, and we brought Sophie with us. She enjoyed exploring the new place, inside and out.
Whenever I was outside gardening or watering, Sophie was right there with me. She would follow me around wherever I went. Reminded me of a dog. I would run from her but she stayed right with me. If I was successful at hiding from her while she was occupied chasing a bug, she was equally successful in quickly finding me. At the new digs, she used to follow me down to the swimming pool; the neighbors thought it was funny.
She dared not come too near the water, though, preferring to hang out at the barbecue pits or play in the trees, all the while keeping an eye on me.
I was fairly successful at converting Sophie into an indoor cat…………
………….during the day.
At night, she just had to go outside. She would meow and sometimes even howl like a coyote until I let her out. However, she would always come back between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m., meowing and scratching at the office window until I woke up and let her in.
Sadly, on September 20, 2007, just six months after moving, Sophie was hit and killed by a car a block over. The street where she was killed was asphalt and unlit; cars liked to turn the corner and zoom down the street. Being caught in the street and blinded by bright car lights meant that Sophie didn’t have a chance. A neighbor found her body, placed it up on the curb under some bushes, removed her tag, and called me.
I had known something was wrong that morning because Sophie was late coming back. The neighbor called just after 8:00. I went to retrieve Sophie’s body and buried her near where she and I originally had met.
That afternoon Jim and I we went to the El Cajon Animal Shelter to adopt a cat, a 100% indoor cat—I decided I never wanted to go through a loss like that again. We found several that we liked but chose an American shorthair with ginger tabby coloring. Unfortunately she wasn’t available for adoption until 10:00 the next morning. Going a whole evening/night/early morning without a cat was tough. We were at the animal shelter promptly at 10:00 the next morning to make sure that we came home with Zoey the Cool Cat.
Her name at the El Cajon Animal Shelter had been Zoey, and we decided to let her keep that name. After just six hours in our home, though, I added “the Cool Cat” to her name, all because of this picture:
In memory of Sophie the Black Cat
Zoey the Cool Cat approves this post.
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