I was leaving Macy’s late one morning when my daughter Valerie sent me a text message with a photo of a cat. “Look! Adult female Ragdoll available for adoption at the Humane Society!”
Here we go again, I thought. She needs to stop viewing their website. I don’t need a cat. I’m already cat-sitting hers!
I got in my car and started for home around 11:00. Valerie’s text kept replaying in my mind. How did she know that I once wanted a Ragdoll cat? I’ve never mentioned it to her. I quickly dismissed the idea of visiting the shelter. After all, my husband David didn’t like cats, and we already had two Shetland Sheepdogs. I resigned myself to the thought that I probably would never have my dream cat.
You see, this story all started a few months earlier when Valerie, who lives on her own, had adopted an adorable two-month-old orange tabby from the same shelter. She named her Eowyn, and soon her kitten became a regular weekend visitor to our home. David tolerated the kitten and our shelties accepted her into their pack, and so it wasn’t long before I was cat-sitting Eowyn daily while Valerie was at work. I liked cats, but I had always considered myself to be a dog-lover. The strangest thing was that I found myself becoming attached to Eowyn.
“Valerie, why don’t you let Eowyn sleep over?” I asked. “That will save you the trip of having to come over every morning.”
“No! Are you trying to steal my cat?” she retorted. “Go get your own cat.”
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So here I was, driving home from Macy’s and trying to persuade myself to pay a visit to the animal shelter. It wouldn’t hurt to just take a look at the Ragdoll. Just look, right? Yeah…why not!
Suddenly I found myself making a U-turn and heading straight to the Humane Society. When I got there, it had been open for almost thirty minutes, and by that time, I was so sure that someone had adopted the Ragdoll. Well…I’ll just go in and visit since I’m here already.
It had been years since I last visited the shelter, and I noticed that it was beautifully renovated. I went straight to the old cat house, but when I didn’t see the Ragdoll, my heart sank. I could only conclude that my hunch was correct and that she was gone by now.
As I headed down the steps, I saw in front of me what looked like another cat house.
It was a brand new one! I glanced inside, but all that I saw were empty cages. I was about to leave when something told me to look again. I turned around and went back in. This time, I looked into every single cage. To my surprise, there she was! A beautiful adult Ragdoll with big baby-blue eyes staring at me.
Just at that moment, a volunteer walked in. “Would you like me to let her out so you can get to know her?”
“Uh… okay.” I knew I was there only to look. After all, I’ve never seen a real Ragdoll in person, but I’ve always admired them in photographs. Her information on the cage read: Ophelia. Female. 16-month-old Ragdoll. 13 pounds. Silver. Spayed.
Arrived 9/12/2017. Status: AVAILABLE. That was only three days ago!
The volunteer pulled the information sheet off the cage door and handed it to me. “Here. You can take this to the front desk, and they’ll be able to give you more information.”
I whispered under my breath, “I…really…wasn’t…here…to…adopt…her.” Or was I? “Well, okay. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to find out more about this Ophelia,” I told the volunteer.
I handed the information sheet to the clerk at the front desk. “Would you tell me more about this cat?”
“Sure.” The clerk scanned her computer screen. “It appears that Ophelia’s first owner gave her up because she was too aggressive and didn’t get along with the sister kitten. The second owner surrendered her to us because her three young children were being too rough with her. She apparently doesn’t do well with small children.”
Two previous owners? That was not what I was expecting to hear.
“Ma’am, you have 30 days to try her out to see if she’ll be a good fit for you. If not, you can return her and we’ll give you a full refund of the adoption fee.” The clerk graciously handed the information sheet back to me.
My heart broke when I heard of Ophelia’s sad plight, but I hesitated to adopt her because I knew that if she didn’t work out, then I’d be returning her to the shelter. With three rejections to her name, she’ll be harder to adopt!
When I walked back to the cat house, the volunteer was waiting for me. “Well, how did it go?”
I told her about Ophelia’s history, and that now I found this cat tugging at my heartstrings. “Perhaps I need to spend more time observing her before I make a decision.”
For the next hour, I held on to Ophelia’s information sheet, which was also the ticket to adopting her. The volunteer remained with me in the cat house to answer any of my questions. Unexpectedly, Ophelia leaped up on the bench and quietly sat down next to me. She appeared to be a mellow cat who enjoyed adult company. Within that hour, several people and families with young children passed through, but none showed any serious interest in Ophelia. Perhaps it was because she was an adult cat, and many preferred a kitten instead.
I turned to the volunteer. “I’ll take her.”
When I had completed filling out the adoption forms and paid the fee, I asked the clerk, “May I have some time to think of a new name? I want to give her a fresh start in life.”
“Sure. Just let us know so that we can change the information in our microchip database.”
The volunteer walked with me to my car and loaded the cardboard carrier onto the passenger front seat. She peeped through the holes in the carrier and waved goodbye to Ophelia. “I’ll miss you. I hope you’ll love your forever home.”
“Yes. I hope so too!” I replied. “Whatever it takes, I will make it work for her.”
The next three days were surprisingly easy. Ophelia was readily accepted by our two shelties, and she and Eowyn became inseparable. Together they were like four peas in a pod. With David, well…he was not thrilled with my surprise when he saw this giant cat roaming the house, but he allowed her to stay. We gave her some space to adjust, and we were confident that she would be a good fit for our family.
I decided to rename her Sophie. It means wisdom, but I also chose that name because of its sweet, elegant sound. It was the perfect name for her new start with us.
Shortly thereafter, I discovered a side of Sophie that I had not seen at the shelter. Whenever I touched her paws or tail, she would go into a panic and dash from me. Brushing her fur or carrying her was almost impossible. She was easily startled by the sound of a spray bottle and would bolt from the room. Each time she did that, I would search the entire house, calling her name until I found her.
One evening, I laid down next to Sophie and looked into her baby blue eyes. “We would never do anything to hurt you. You are safe with us. I don’t know how long it will take to help you heal from all your fears, but I promise you that we will help you overcome all of them. You don’t ever have to worry about finding another home with a family who would love you. This is your home now. We are your family now. And we love you unconditionally.”
Sophie began showing an interest in David. She would climb up the stairs every morning to greet him outside the bathroom door, and remain with him the entire time until he left for work. Over a period of a few weeks, she had begun to melt his heart. She did what no other cat was able to accomplish in all of David’s life: She had won his affection.
Every morning, Sophie never failed to let David know how much she fancied him by her loud purring whenever he carried her in his arms and kissed her goodbye on her head before he left for work. She chose to love first, and was loved in return from the most unexpected family member.
Eight months after I adopted Sophie, my family and I celebrated her second birthday on May 26 with new toys, treats, and a new brush. Yes, a brand new brush that she absolutely loves. One of the highlights of her day is a daily brushing every morning from head to tail and even her paws. Yes, paws and tail! She no longer panics and runs when anyone touches her paws or tail. In fact, Sophie will hold her tail high in the air for me to take a hold of, and then she will lead me to her snack shelf, chatting all the way to the kitchen. She has become a highly vocal cat who walks with confidence around her new home like it is nobody’s business.
The next thing Christine wrote was a profound revelation about Sophie’s fate that I had never thought about. “Just think that ever since she was a tiny kitten, she was always meant to be yours. But in order for her to find her way to you, she had to live with the right family who would give her up and place her in the Humane Society so that she would be in the right place for you to find her. Unknowingly, it was meant to be.”
Christine’s words rang true when I thought about the series of events that needed to occur so that I would finally have my dream cat, and Sophie would finally have a family who would love her for the rest of her life. Some things are a coincidence to some people, and some things are a God-incidence to others. I believe this was one of those God-incidences in both of our lives.
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