Sophie is 12 and a half years old. From day one she was a snooty little redhead (no disrespect intended!) who obviously objected to the fact that her mother Snoopy’s owner had shoved her into his jacket, walked up the road and delivered her to a large, strange house with an enormous huge great shaggy waggy dog… ugh. And children…
On the other hand, or perhaps it’s still the same hand, she has proved to be exceptionally intelligent. Firstly, she actually survived, which her original partner in crime, a sleek black and white rogue called Mr. Darcy, didn’t. He didn’t quite make his first birthday and was hit by a car while chasing leaves… No, Sophie has been wise about roads right from the start, initially a main village junction, then a road where heavy lorries regularly thundered past and now a town road on one side of the house and a busy residential road on the other – and never a scratch. The second trick she developed early on was to learn to open doors. As kittens, she and Mr. Darcy would hang on to Hamish’s tail and allow themselves to be dragged along the parquet floor, so the dangly bit was initiated early on (that was the Christmas we tied the tree to a ceiling beam…). Goodness knows what made Sophie think of hanging on the door handle till it lowered and clicked, releasing the lock – in fact, at first she was too light and Mr. Darcy had to jump up and cling to her hindquarters to give them enough leverage with his additional weight, but soon it was enough to leave a trail of open doors… A third clever thing Sophie learnt to do was to avoid anything as common as a water bowl, oh no, a washbasin makes a most suitable resting place and water is on tap… and if madam doesn’t wish to have to walk so far (we only had one upstairs bathroom in that house), well, let’s get a drink from the indoor fountain!
Sophie grew up to be a large and very pretty cat, bar the toffee-nosed, slit-eyed looks she gives most people. Although ostensibly anti-social and apparently considering only our middle daughter to be worthy of her attention (I am just staff…), life altered fairly dramatically when said daughter married, moved to a flat where no pets were allowed and subsequently, abroad. Now Sophie had to accept second best – our youngest daughter.
Meanwhile, this daughter was also growing up (as they do!), and after spending several years at a school entailing being out for 12 hours a day, moved on to an apprenticeship where she is out 13 hours a day and more recently, has been spending even longer than that at her boyfriend’s flat, and during holidays, she’s even been completely absent. Well, it’s so hard when you only have staff to rely on!
The thing is, with increasing age has come increasing sensitivity to loud noises – fireworks, banging noise from the metalworking workshop next door, strange dogs, ambulances that pass by and worst of all, thunderstorms. Then, this noble figure of a cat can be found huddling below the bottom stairs or flattened under the (low) sofa, obviously mentally battening the hatches and closing her ears as much as possible to the horrors that are going on around her. What with the disappearance of Human No. 1 and now the lengthy absences of Human No. 2, she has been left with simply NO choice. The living room door twangs open and in marches Sophie, with one eye on the dog in case Alina decides to chase her or just jump on her (not unknown!), and then wonder oh wonder, we are approached with an appealing look of “save me from the monsters!” and the formerly so very superior Sophie will suffer our presence and even lie on the upholstery and snooze…actually seeking our company. To our incredulity, she has even recently been known to sit on our laps!! Well, for a few minutes. Nothing short of a revolution.
Having spent this last weekend away, we returned to find the house very chilly – our aging heating system needs constant monitoring and restarting and our daughter, left to house-sit, had been otherwise occupied and checking on the innards of the house is not a priority for her. We were barely settled in, reheated, woolly-socked and sipping hot tea, when in came Sophie – it had obviously been a cold, barren and simply intolerable weekend for her, even if there had been food in the bowl. In the space of merely minutes, if not seconds, I had my arms full of cat, now keen for a cuddle and utterly relaxed, purring loudly and taking full advantage of any warmth to be had! When I had to get up to replenish those teacups, I transferred this bundle of fur over to my husband – what would previously have resulted in a definite flouncing off at having been disturbed was accepted with grace and madam even consented to doze off, relaxed and content and almost wrapped in the blanket….
Wonders will never cease!!