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.”
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.
The story of Sophie’s adoption from our local humane society was posted on September 03, 2018. Since that time, a lot had transpired, mainly the loss of her best dog buddies, Brett and Skyler, who passed away this summer due to illnesses. This sequel tells the story of Sophie who loved and grieved and how her responses were both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
It is about her inborn nature to feel compassion as well as her resilience to overcome adversity. For a person who had never owned a cat before, I find those actions worthy of attention.
They had almost two beautiful years of friendship together. I never imagined when I adopted Sophie from our local humane society that she would become attached to both of our family’s 14-year-old shelties. She struck up a friendship that lasted until the very end of our dogs’ lives in the summer of 2019.
A year after Sophie’s adoption in September 2017, Brett suffered from congenital heart failure due to complications from having an enlarged heart. His veterinarian put him on several medications to relieve him of the many acute symptoms.
Still, the reality was that he was living on borrowed time and was given six months to a year before his heart could no longer hold on. Sophie seemed to understand that Brett was not feeling well, and so and she hung around him more often than before.
Even when he stood up to get a drink of water, Sophie was right there next to him, doing the same thing. Occasionally I would see her gently tapping his back paws to play with her. As the months passed, Brett grew too weary of responding to her tappings and would remain asleep behind the living room curtain.
Nine months later, Brett passed away at the pet hospital, and so he wasn’t with me when I returned home. Sophie immediately knew that something was wrong. She checked his usual place behind the curtain and then went looking for him in every room of the house, but he wasn’t anywhere.
From that night, she slept in Brett’s favorite spot behind the curtain. I watched her nudge the bottom of it and crawl under until only the tips of her nose and front paws were visible. She missed him immensely.
About a month later, our other sheltie, Skyler, had lost interest in eating and began displaying other health complications. He was diagnosed with liver cancer and put on medications. During that time, Sophie must have known that her other buddy Skyler wasn’t feeling well.
Whenever he laid down to rest his weary body, she was right there near him, watching him sleep. There were times when she playfully tapped his face with her paw, hoping to get a response from him, but all Skyler did was turn the other way and go back to sleep. Sophie had just lost her favorite buddy Brett, and what she seemed to want was to let Skyler know that he was her favorite buddy now.
Skyler continued to worsen over the next month, and it was sheer agony to watch him become emaciated and weak. At that point, we knew it was time to say goodbye instead of allowing him to suffer any longer. And so in August, we decided to let him go.
Even though Sophie seemed fine, I knew she missed Skyler because she started sleeping on his bed at night. And every night after that. Occasionally she would alternate between sleeping in Brett’s place behind the curtain and then on Skyler’s bed. This behavior continued for several weeks.
One early evening, Sophie was eating her dinner when suddenly, from a distance, she heard one of our neighbor’s dogs give out two playful barks. She immediately stopped eating and perked up. I watched Sophie walk cautiously to the foot of the staircase, swishing her tail in anticipation of something. Was she hoping to see her best buddies come running down like they had in the past? She sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. But they never came.
“Sophie,” I whispered. “Brett and Skyler are not upstairs. Your buddies aren’t here anymore. They’re in heaven.”
She sat there for a while, and when she felt ready, she walked away and laid down in the living room corner where both dogs used to nap.
“If only you could talk,” I said to Sophie as I stroked her head. “We all miss the boys too. The house feels empty without them around, huh?”
I remembered the times when Sophie didn’t like being alone outside for long and would meow for her buddies to join her. As old and tired as they were, they were still willing to go out to be with her. It was the same with the inside of our home.
Wherever the dogs were in the house, there I would find Sophie nearby. They were just like three-peas-in-a-pod.
It is now December, and it has been four months since our last sheltie passed away. Over time, Sophie adjusted to the changes. She no longer sleeps in Brett’s corner under the curtain or on Skyler’s bed. Nowadays, she’ll sleep wherever she chooses to lay her head.
Because I’m retired, Sophie now hangs out with me wherever I am in the house or the yard. It doesn’t seem to matter to her if the company she keeps is two- or four-legged. I believe that if Sophie has chosen to hang out with a new buddy, then it must be a sign that her heart is healed. And that’s a reassuring sign that she’s okay now.
Do you have a Ragdoll Kitten or Cat? Consider submitting your kitty! Ragdoll of the Week submission guidelines
Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,