There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

And now there are four......My Italian Cat

Sophie died yesterday at the vet’s office. In true dramatic Sophie style, she probably had bone cancer. No leaving with just a silly bladder infection for Sophie. She never acted sick, was eating fine and herding all of the other cats until we crated her up for the trip to see the vet.

I am crying and have been since yesterday. Steve is devastated. We deeply loved this sassy, independent little old lady cat. We only had her 4 short years but I like to think that we gave her the best 4 years of her life. Her food bowl is put away, her special litter box emptied and stored, the bathroom where she ate is quiet now and once again Mimi Louise seems to be the one mourning her loss.

Below is the post I wrote about Sophie when I had just started blogging. It was my 5th post. I hope it tells her story well and all of you get a feeling of how much Sophie was loved, is missed and how that spot in my heart can never be filled again.

Ahh, Bella Sophia when she has make-up on.....Sophie for everyday use.

If her hair was a little curlier, she could be a movie star!

Sophie has been my kitty for almost two years. Like most of our other pets, she was almost homeless, and certainly unloved when we brought her to our home. Sophie's story is multi cultural, and her heritage shows!

Sophia was originally owned by an elderly Japanese woman who lived in the Japanese section of L.A., California. She was an apartment cat and left to her own devices most of the time mainly due to her owner's dementia. The woman's family eventually realized that she couldn't take care of herself let alone a cat, so Sophia, whose name was Mitchu at the time, went to the L.A. Central Jail...excuse me, Animal Shelter. She lived there for almost a goodness.

A local radio show was a sponsor of animals at the shelter and Mitchu became the pet of the week for adoption. The bait......lots of food, litter and a vet visit.....the catch....the first person to arrive at the radio station got the cat and the bait. I wonder if Mitchu liked to fish?

Who should be the first to arrive but my future sister in law's daughter. So, Mitchu went home with Tish who was not allowed to have pets in her apartment.

Tish kept Mitchu and another cat she rescued, Burbank, in her apartment, hidden, until she fell in love and decided to move in with her allergic to cats boyfriend. That's when Mitchu and her buddy Burbank went to live with Ilene and Gary in Whittier, California. Gary is my husband's brother and Ilene, who was intelligent and lovely, fell in love with him for some reason I have yet to figure out. Yes, my husband is the only normal one in his family. Gary is a perpetual I am unhappy because the world doesn't treat me right and I am owed adult, another brother Bill is a biker for Jesus now, but in the past Jesus didn't ride on Bill's hog, a sister Sandy is just strange for no reason ......thus my wondering about Ilene choosing Gary. But, I digress.

Eventually Gary and Ilene moved to Corona, California with the two cats. Gary and Ilene decided that poodles were fun so they bought a pedigree standard black male and a miniature apricot female.....Phantom and Rose. The dogs didn't like cats, so Mitchu and Burbank were kept in a bedroom when the dogs were out which was all day and the cats got to come out when the dogs were in their crates to sleep at night. Did I mention that Gary doesn't like cats?

Gary and Ilene eventually married and lived happily with this routine until Ilene was diagnosed with ovarian/liver/pancreatic cancer in November of 2002. Ilene was an R.N. like I was, worked like a fiend taking care of others and basically ignored the signs and symptoms of her disease. She was a strong, brave woman and while she was sick trusted that Gary was taking care of the cats as well as she did. Did I mention that Gary doesn't like cats?

In Gary's defense, he was overwhelmed with taking care of Ilene and trying to deal with losing his wife. While he was aware of the dogs needs, the cats were left in their bedroom all of the time and eventually stayed in the closet where they sometimes got food, water and their boxes cleaned.

At some point in Ilene's illness Gary and Ilene asked my husband and I if something should happen to the both of them would we take their pets....all four of they were making out their wills and the dogs and cats were their "children" and they wanted to ensure that they would be cared for.....we said of course.

Ilene died November 23, 2004. We had promised we would not go to each other's funeral for a variety of reasons.....not exactly fair to our spouses, but our friendship was more important than the brothers Grimm mourning at a funeral.

My husband flew to California to attend the service and support his brother. He stayed at Gary and Ilene's the spare non pet bedroom. The request to care for the pets should something happen to both Ilene and Gary changed. Gary had given Burbank to the housekeeper and Mitchu was to go home on the plane with my husband at our cost. Mitchu was suddenly "aggressive and bites!" Did I mention that Gary doesn't like cats, but, after making the aggressive and bites comment my husband said Gary called her a sweetheart!

My husband went into all alone Mitchu's closet to see what she looked like.......she was scared, matted and fat. He called me and explained her condition. We agreed that he should bring her home on his return. The next day was a flurry of getting Mitchu vaccinated and ready for her first plane trip.....crate, dirty blankie so she would have something familiar, smelly toy mouse and a water container. My husband and cat were on the afternoon flight.

They arrived home tired, and Mitchu was still scared with the added misery of being stuck in the bathroom with her dirty blankie and toy.

She was beautiful; black and long haired with the most pitiful miaow ever sputtered. She was matted, full of fleas, had diarrhea and wouldn't eat or drink........she was also fat.

We gave her three days to adjust then off to the vet for a complete check up and the groomer to get detailed. She was bathed, fluffed, de-fleaed, wormed, had her nails done and her butt buzzed, her ears were probed and her mouth checked. Diets were discussed, an exercise program recommended and special needs explained like hairballs. She was ready to start living like a real cat.

Slowly over two weeks she was introduced to the other cats and the dogs. She started roaming in a few rooms and then was left to explore the whole house. It was clear from the start of her freedom that she would rule all things cat-like, dog-like and the humans.

The name Mitchu stuck on my tongue for some reason. I talked to my husband and he agreed that she really was not a Japanese cat....she used her paws a lot to make a point....she must be Italian like me!!! We discussed new names with her.....Maria...too plain...Conchetta...too many consonants....Isabella....nope, couldn't stand the possibility of being called Izzy. Sophia made her smile so Sophia it was with Sophie as an every day name.

Sophie loves the napper in the bedroom, steals the other cat's food every chance she gets, sniffs Penny the dog when she thinks Penny isn't looking, sleeps in the bed with me, gives me kisses, bites me when I brush her too much, bites me when I don't brush her enough, is only aggressive when someone else starts an argument, ventures into an open closet every once in a while but doesn't stay in there for long and proves her international heritage by trying to invite herself to dinner when ever we have meatballs, sushi, ribs or fried chicken.

She has turned into a beautiful, curious, alert, affectionate cat and she is dearly loved by the whole family. Ahh, Bella Sophia!


Anonymous said...

I love you. I'm so sorry. I just can't believe this.

Anonymous said...

A touching tribute to a beloved family member. I am mourning your loss from afar.

Chris said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Such a beautiful story about a beautiful little soul.

Mom said...

I wish I could give you both a big hug. I know it hurts.

Joan said...

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved Sophie. It's obvious that she was an important member of your family and I hope you can take comfort in knowing that she had a wonderful life with you and Steve.

madretz said...

Dearest Rosemary, I shed tears with you. Such a lovely tribute, she was a loved kitty with a wonderful history and so fitting that she spent her best years with your loving care.

Sandy said...

What a beautiful tribute to your precious Sophie. I'm glad she had those wonderful four years with you. Lots of love and hugs to you and Steve.

Ex-Shammickite said...

Well, what a long post... I really enjoyed reading about the various adventures of Mitchu/Sophie. I really think that you and Steve gave her the best 4 years.... what a sweet kitty. And now she is gone. But rest assured you and Steve changed her life. She no longer had to live in a closet, or avoid dogs, or wonder when the next meal was arriving, or live with Gary.... did you mention that he didn't like cats?
Bye bye Miss Sophie. I bet she'll be snuggling up to our dear old Wendydog in no time.

Sling said...

Good night Sophie..

Evil Twin's Wife said...

I am sooo sorry. Prayers going out for you, Steve and Sophie.

Amy said...

Isn't it amazing how they can wiggle under the covers of your heart and find a comfy spot, curl up and stay there forever? So nice when it happens! So sorry for your loss, but so glad you have the memories of those four years with her. You have the amazing knack of writing so that the rest of us feel like we are there. Please keep it up. So glad we found each other! ::)

Jerry in Tampa said...

Rosemary - I am profoundly sorry for your loss! I have 4 dogs and 2 cats and know all too well the big places they carve out in your heart. I lost Jake almost a year ago - he was a 11-1/2 year old yellow Lab - and it still hurts to talk about it! Actually, I love dogs more than people....
My heart goes out to you, my friend...

Jerry in Tampa

Kimberly Ann said...

I am so very sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with you and Steve, as is a big cyber hug.

Middle Child said...

So sorry Rosemar my lovely old cat Archimedes last February 2007 - Don was never too keen on cats but he grew find of her - it was a sad time and he did the best he could to help me through... not knowing what was coming up for him and me -

I had to put the lovely Thorn doggie inc are when I was away recently for 2 weeks, he fell in love with an old cat there - so am going to the RSPCA to find a cat - one which is used to dogs - I think he needs more stimulation than I can give him -

So sorry about your cat Rosemary...

more cowbell said...

Oh Rosemary, I'm very sorry to hear about Sophie. That's so hard. Hugs...