By Yuni Abdul
Moving to a brand new environment is never easy to do—unfamiliar sounds, smells and sights can get overwhelming. For Sophia and I, however, being in unfamiliar settings eventually proved to be a blessing in disguise.
I was brand new to the Bay Area. My husband and I had just gotten married, and I moved to be with him. While it was exciting being in a new environment, being home alone while he was at work eventually got very lonely. I missed my family, friends, and my two beautiful family cats that I left behind.
Sophia was surrendered to Oakland Animal Shelter. Losing her human was very stressful, and she responded by shutting down and hiding in her cage. While she eventually warmed up enough to be on the adoption floor, having to cope with unfamiliar cats and people was too much—she started swiping, hissing and growling, which scared off potential adopters. Fortunately, Cat Town recognized her sensitive needs and brought her into their foster program. They uploaded an Instagram post urgently appealing for fosters who could take her in.
That post inspired me to get in touch. I was home most of the time and missed my cats dearly—it seemed like a perfect fit. They warned me that Sophia could be demanding and needed patience, selective petting, no rubbing of her lower body and no other cats in the house; not the warm and friendly lap cat everyone dreams about!
Nonetheless, we let her settle in, hoping that she would warm up to us—and she did! She began taking afternoon naps on my legs, sleeping with us at night, purring and greeting us at the door whenever we came home. I wasn’t lonely anymore.
It took an overseas trip and the news of a potential adopter for us to realize that we couldn’t do without Sophia. We adopted her in August of 2016, and she has since grown in unimaginable ways.
Being avid hikers, we thought it might be fun to bring Sophia along. We started with her in a backpack carrier, and she initially seemed content to gaze at the wildlife through the safety of her mesh window. She had other plans though, and during a visit to the local hiking trail she hopped out of her bag and started walking on her leash! We now walk her regularly, taking the occasional potty break in the bushes. We’ve been on hikes and glamping trips around the Bay Area and beyond, but her favorite spot is San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
With her dislike for other cats and canine-like behavior, I often comment on what an odd cat she is, to which my husband to says, “She’s just like you, stubborn and nonsensical.” Sensitive cats like Sophia that don’t “show” well in a shelter environment deserve a chance too, and I’m thankful that we met—helping each other turn what was an unfamiliar environment into our home.
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