Oh, staff!

Today, Sophie, my friend Catherine’s cat, died. Despite acquaintance with several cats, I can’t wholeheartedly say I am a cat person. I was definitely, however, a Sophie person.

If it’s true that dogs have owners and cats have staff, I fell into the staff category with Sophie. Over the last three years, I have spent several weeks at a time with Catherine, Sophie, and Oliver (Sophie’s son) in Europe. I’m an early riser and both cats became dependent on me to fill their food bowls in the morning. They would sit on the floor by my bed, Oliver meowing loudly, but Sophie simply staring so intently that I could feel it. Of course, I would have to get up and feed them. When I made my bed, I got into the habit of arranging the pillows and folded blankets in such a way that Her Highness had a choice of places to nap. After returning home from one visit, I sent Sophie a present of a servant’s bell with a tag that read ‘Oh, staff!’

On my most recent visit, Sophie suffered a health crisis, which necessitated trips to the vet every day for two weeks. Her tolerance of being placed in a carrier and driven to the vet reminded me that one of the things I liked most about her was how philosophical (“having a calm attitude toward a difficult or unpleasant situation”) she was. Whether it was a several-hour plane trip across the ocean or a two-day car ride from France to Italy, her attitude was one of resigned acceptance.

Sophie was a beautiful cat but not as sweet as she looked. That, however, did not make her any less lovable. She had fans far and wide and accepted their adoration and fawning as her due! She was a ‘princess’ (one of the bonds between us) and it is fitting that she ended her days at Castello di Porciano.

I will miss her purring that sounded like crickets and mashing up her food for her and seeing her swat Oliver if he annoyed her. For a creature so tiny, her passing leaves a huge hole in the lives of those who loved her.

Rest in peace, Sophie.

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