“Soapy? Do You Mean Sophie?”
Everyone asked me this about the cat I found on Craigslist. She was already three years old when I adopted her, leaving me clueless about her kittenhood. But one thing I knew for certain was that her name was Soapy – I had the emails to prove it.
Her original owner was a young man terminally ill with brain cancer. He only gave me a brief overview and a few cat toys before I drove home in tears with my new cat. It took ten minutes to ring a stranger’s doorbell, learn he was dying of cancer, and bring Soapy out to my car, and in that time, many important questions remained unasked and unanswered. For instance, I wasn’t informed how much Soapy loves it when people whistle. I can whistle, a stranger can whistle – heck, even someone on TV can whistle – and Soapy comes running!
Soapy is a big, dominant cat, but when I first brought her home, she hid from me. Crouched on my knees, I peered at her beneath the bed and saw her bright green eyes shining out of the darkness. At that moment, I realized how little I knew about this full-grown cat, and in return how little she knew about me. How scared and alone she must have felt in this foreign house!
Adopting a cat presents so much mystery. What did Soapy look like as a kitten? What were her favorite activities? Having met her original human, I knew more about her than if I’d picked her up from a shelter, but it was still a learning curve. For instance, I found out the hard way that Soapy didn’t like the litter I was using when I came home late one night to find cat pee on my bed. The problem stopped when I changed litters.
Then there was the mystery that everyone around me kept asking me about – how did she get her odd name? Perhaps it’s because I’m a fan of unlikely animal names (my horse is named Aspota, and I have another cat named Dennis) but I didn’t ever really question Soapy’s moniker – that is, until everyone else wouldn’t stop.
I started to wonder if she ate soap with the same vigor she reserves for anything made of cardboard. I never caught her eating any soap, though, so I hypothesized that maybe she liked playing with bubbles as a kitten. By the time I moved out of my parents’ house and into my own apartment, with Soapy in tow, I thought I’d never know the answer. As they say, though, when you spread your wings you find new things – I certainly didn’t know that moving out was going to teach me the meaning behind Soapy’s name! Back at my parents’ house, the shower has tall glass doors, and Soapy would stand outside staring in at me as I showered. In my apartment, I instead have a shower curtain, which meant that Soapy was finally able to show me how she got her name. As soon as the water squirts on, she comes running into the bathroom, jumps up onto the bathtub, pushes through the shower curtain and plops straight down to enjoy her version of a sauna, albeit a rather wet one. Strangely, she doesn’t mind the water one bit. She even swings her tail inside the shower, collecting water – and you guessed it – soap!
Anyone who has ever adopted an adult cat probably has questions of their own about their beloved feline’s background. When you love an animal, you want to know everything you can about her. And you eventually will. As time goes by and your connection grows, you pick up the pieces that tell the story of your cat’s earlier years. As her furry little quirks start to show up, and her likes and dislikes unravel, the most concrete of bonds is formed, one that makes you smile and your cat purr. It’s what happened to Soapy and me. We have become the best of friends – and she continues to love the shower!