Sophie, aged 14 and a half, died last month after a long battle with feline GI lymphoma, having lived far beyond the vets’ best outside predictions because she never did anything anyone told her. Her beloved human companion was holding her as she passed.
When Sophie was a kitten, she came dangerously close to being renamed Calamity Jane. Thanks to the tender-heartedness of the 7-year-old (human) relative who named her, the appellation and ensuing embarrassment were avoided. The calamities, however, continued.
From a young age, Sophie was an adventurer, and though she was an indoor cat her entire life, she never lost her taste for exploring. Born in parts of Nashville unknown, Sophie and her five brothers found themselves at the Nashville Humane Association one day. The boys were snapped up immediately, but Sophie’s human stewed for a day before adopting her, on a Sunday, with her 7-year-old niece Kaiti in tow. That very night, Sophie’s human panicked and tried to foist her off on an unsuspecting colleague, but the would-be foistee, who suspected something, advised the panicky human to give it 24 hours (which she did, give or take 15 years).
Two weeks and $750 in emergency vet bills later, Sophie had leapt into the hearts of her human and her feline mentor Gertrude (a.k.a. Baby Gert, a.k.a. BeeWee), who preceded her in death. As a kitten, Sophie lived in West Nashville on prestigious Bowling Avenue across from what is now an ex-politician’s McMansion, and was regularly smuggled into The Tennessean newsroom, cleverly hidden in her human’s winter coat. Although she tolerated car trips early on, she soon developed an intense and enduring hatred for all things car-related. In her Bowling Avenue home, Sophie was known for tilting her head to the side curiously until she knocked herself over, helping plumbers and repairmen, showing area dogs who was boss, eating a lightning bug that one time, and getting herself stuck in refrigerator for 4 hours.
Around the age of 1, Sophie and her family moved to a permanent residence in East Nashville, beating the hipsters by nearly a decade. She was proficient in helping to foster rescue kittens and secretly developed friendships with many of them, though few escaped without ear bites and paw swats. Sophie was known for swishing her tail to indicate: happiness, her wish for immediate and focused attention, occasional fits of anger, and showing how good she was at swishing her tail. She came when called, unless she just didn’t feel like it; always slept with her human; and enjoyed licking the condensation off cold drinks, as well as recreational ham eating. She also enjoyed head-butts and playfully biting her human’s elbows while purring, whenever said elbows were proffered.
Sophie was joined by what would become her final two feline companions, Stella and Suki, in 2009, and immediately established herself as She Who Must Be Obeyed. Any disobedience or even random moments of irritation prompted Sophie to smack a feline or bite her ears. This did not stop the other house cats from adoring her completely and entirely for the duration of her life, especially Stella, who kissed Sophie’s butt whenever she could manage to work her nose under there.
Sophie ate the most expensive cat food brand ever manufactured, although she retained her love for the cheap stuff whenever she could get her teeth into it, episodes inevitably followed by prodigious vomiting. She adored going outside on the front porch and would stay outside for hours if allowed. She learned to stay within bounds of the front yard thanks in part to sometime (human) housemate Chong, who thought he trained her by nudging her with a broom, although this was rarely witnessed as an effective means of getting Sophie to do anything. She frequently walked to the end of the sidewalk in autumn and plopped down in a pile of crunchy leaves particularly well-situated in a patch of sunshine. Once or twice, she squeezed her considerable heft out of the gate and strolled down the sidewalk.
Throughout her life, Sophie enjoyed ham treats (fresh-sliced deli only, preferably Black Forrest) and strawberry yogurt (mostly Yoplait). The U.S. Ham Association is forever indebted, although the pigs themselves probably weren’t too happy about that.
She is survived by her (human) companion, Ellen, and sometime companion Chong; her (feline) companions Stella and Suki; her (human) aunties Karen, Jan & Kaiti; her (human) cat-sitter, Sheila; her devoted (human) friends Laura, Joe & Corky; her (canine) neighbor, Cupcake; and scores of other admirers, IRL and online.
Sophie loved fiercely and completely, and was herself fiercely and completely loved. She is terribly missed.
Private funeral services were held at home, with Laura & Barry acting as pallbearers. Interment was adjacent to the front porch, in front of the big hydrangea bush.
Donations can be made in Sophie’s memory to the Nashville Humane Association.