I know. When someone has no job, doesn’t know where they live, and is on a “world tour,” it’s probably not the best time to get a pet. However, according to Sophie, it wasn’t my choice.

This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. I would live off the affection of friends’ balls of fuzz until finding my new home/sorority house/boat at which time I would adopt two cats and name them Bogie & Bacall or Holmes & Watson or Nick & Nora (you’re showing your age if you get that one). But Plan A was not to be.

She found me at Mini Ha Ha Ranch in Oklahoma City.

As a house cat who had either been misplaced or discarded, Mary found her emaciated  — nothing but bones and hair –and torn up. With no front claws, she couldn’t find food or defend herself. Mary nursed her back to health, except for a very distinctive nick in her right ear. Every morning and evening, Mary would give a shrill “Here, Kitty, Kitty” and an equally shrill whistle that I still can’t duplicate, and Kitty Kitty would come bounding up the deck stairs for breakfast and dinner.

You already know how we got to the name, “Sophie,” but it wasn’t till a couple of days ago I realized I’d named her after one of the sweetest, most kind-hearted, fun and adorable girls I’ve ever had the privilege of living with, Sophie Kish. Sophie is an Alpha Chi Omega who graduated from San Diego State in May and is modeling – big time. Oh, and she’s Miss Mission Beach. But regardless of how beautiful she is on the outside, or how defined that six pack of hers is, that beauty could never compare to the Sophie inside. It’s times like this I realize how lucky I’ve been over the last six years.

But I degress. Mini Ha Ha Ranch would have been impossible for Sophie-the-Cat during the winter — with only the open barn or the crawl space under the deck for cover.

So, as I drove away from Mini Ha Ha Ranch, a cat carrier sat on my front seat.

She’s obviously travelled before, because she didn’t want to get in the carrier at first. But when I opened the door once we were on the road, she’d only come out of her fabric, airy cage enough to lie on the unzipped lid and be petted.

We spent time with all the “J’s,” and it became obvious she’d been around kids and dogs before. But cats, even small harmless ones, scared her. Probably because the feral ones had been a problem for her during her unplanned freedom and what I’ve gotten to call “field training.”

When it was time to move on, she came to Peggy’s with me.

At first, both of Peggy’s cats freaked her out. Now, she and Josie have no problems, but Indiana Jones and Sophie are still working out the details. Jones has been through a lot of changes in the last couple of years — the most recent being Peggy’s youngest daughter, Brooke, moving out with her cat, Amelie, and Peggy’s adored cat, Socks losing a battle with a mountain lion. Then, this new black thing moved in.

They started with intense hissing and a couple of run-ins, and found that though Mr. Jones is definitely an Alpha male, Sophie’s “field training” was more than he expected. He has claws, but Sophie always stood her ground. They graduated to an “I’m going to hiss and you’re going to chase me,” followed by, “You’re going to hiss and I’m going to chase you,” with no encounter other than both cats going to their separate corners. Usually, Jones would be somewhere in the living/dining room area looking very guilty and Sophie would perch herself on the stairs with an innocent “What?” look. She’s good at passing the blame.

Now, we’re at a peaceful co-existence stage. There’s still a degree of hissing, but there are also times they’ve laid within a foot of each other with no incidents. Jones, who hates just about everyone and has even been known to turn on Peggy, let me pet him for some time a couple of nights ago with Sophie at my feet.  I think we’re going to be OK here until the settlement.

Sophie didn’t have a clue how to play. Luckily, Peggy is adroit at making “nip” toys, and it didn’t take her long to learn. Then she discovered scrunchies. And you know how cats love tossing scrunchies around. She’s even playing with the cat toys I bought her at the beginning and has discovered how to play “blanket or curtain” monster. We put Socks’ kitty tree in my window, and except for using it as a step stool to the window ledge, she didn’t know what to do with it. Then, she discovered one of the ledges, and started standing/sitting/lying on it. Last night I came in looking for her to be in the center of the bed waiting for me and couldn’t find her. Assuming she was running late, I got under the covers and looked up to see two tiny ears above the rim of the crow’s nest part of the tree. She had figured how to not only get onto the next ledge, but got through the hole to enter the tippy top little cabin where she could sleep. And she did — through the whole night. 

Usually, she starts lying beside me, goes under the covers for awhile, comes back out, sleeps by my feet, and I awaken to find her curled up beside my head, paws on my shoulder and head leaning against mine — which of course, makes me oversleep because it’s so comforting. When I go to the next sorority house, I’m going to have to buy an alarm clock for the first time in about eight years. But I’m fine with her feeling safe someplace other than beside me. She’s still a little needy.

She’s the most affectionate cat that’s ever owned me. Wherever I am, she seems to find me. I get that. After being alone in dark, scary worlds for so long, I’m her safe place. At this moment, I’m trying to look around her to see the computer screen. She’s nuzzling my chin with her head letting me know that there’s nothing more important than paying attention to Sophie. So, that’s what I’m going to do.

Still waiting for word on the settlement, but have been given some potentially-good news this morning that I’m hoping will work out. I’ll keep you posted. Once it’s over, I can choose whether to settle down while waiting for a sorority job I’m coveting for next fall, or continue the world tour.

Until tomorrow (OK, maybe the next day), be careful out there. Stay safe. You are loved. And you’re important in ways you don’t even realize.