At almost any point in human history, you can find legends and lore about cats. Sometimes they're negative, but other times, they're held in high regards. Some sects of Buddhism believe that cats hold and transport the souls of particularly special (or holy) people and with such divine abilities, it's no surprise that cats are considered special creatures.
Whether or not cats are furry, little soul vessels I cannot say, but what I do know is that cats are far more loyal and loving creature companions than they are often given credit for. After hearing the story of a cat named Trooper and a lovely old woman named Sarah Whaley, I think that cats know when they are needed and we are so lucky to roam this earth with such special animals.
It was back in 2014 when Alexis Hackney and her family were flipping a house and they heard a meowing coming from the basement. As they headed down to investigate they were stunned to see a two-week-old kitten stuck in the wall!
In an interview with The Dodo, Alexis said, "she was in the wall, and my mom and sister had to get a sledgehammer, and bust out the sheetrock and get her! She was about 2 weeks old. Her eyes were barely open.”
The family couldn't find the little kitten's mother so they decided to take her home with them to Tallahassee, Florida. It was there that they lived with their grandmother, 96-year-old Sarah Whaley. Naming the little kitten trooper, they were excited for grandma to meet the kitten.
“My grandmother actually lived with us for 18 years,” Hackney said. “She moved down here to babysit me and my sisters when we were little. She just kind of stayed. She was definitely a major part of our household. She was the matriarch.”
Sarah was a loving and adoring grandmother but her affections didn't stop at her grandchildren. She was a huge fan of the family cats and Trooper was no exception. Though the bond Trooper and Sarah formed was definitely exceptional.
“My grandmother would bottle-feed her, and she’d sit there and talk to her, and tell her how cute and sweet she is,” Hackney said. “Trooper’s the kind of cat where she has one person, and that person was definitely my grandmother.”
However, while it was clear that Trooper and Grandma Sarah were a kindred spirit and had nothing but love between them, it seemed that no one really knew the depth of their connection until things took a turn for the worst when it came to Sarah's health.
Alexis said, "my grandmother started going more downhill around Christmas [last year], and we started noticing her [Trooper] being there all the time."
Quite inseparable, Trooper mostly just cuddled with Grandma Sarah and occasionally brought her gifts from around the house.
“She was never the kind to pick up toys and move them around the house or anything, but when my grandma couldn’t move around as much anymore, she would bring stuff to her — whatever she’d find on the floor, like socks or a straw,” Alexis said. “As she started getting sicker and sicker and sicker, she increased the amount of stuff that she was bringing. She’d go into my brother’s room and just grab his socks and haul them downstairs and lay them on the floor.”
“You could just look into her eyes and tell that she knew what was going on, and she was very upset about it,” Hackney added.
In her declining health, Sarah was prone to panic attacks and Trooper would rush to her side to comfort her.
“Trooper would run in there and hop on the bed, and she would just start petting her and feeling her, and she’d calm down,” Alexis said. “When my grandmother started getting to the point where she couldn’t communicate anymore, I think that having Trooper there was definitely calming for her.”
Perhaps what was most astonishing of all was that nothing Sarah did upset Trooper or scared the cat away.
Alexis explained, "whenever my grandmother was going through the process of passing away, she became very disoriented. Trooper was always by her side — always there — and she would accidentally hit her or squeeze her too hard, and Trooper would never fight back. She would just jump down, wait for my grandma to calm down, and she would jump right back into bed with her. If we had done that, it would have been all over. We would have been a bloody mess, but she loved my grandma, and she never, ever scratched her or bit her or anything.”
In Mach, just a few days before her 97th birthday, Sarah Whaley passed away. Trooper? Inconsolable.
“She didn’t want to be around my grandma’s body,” Alexis said. “I had taken her in there to show her that Grandma is not coming back … because if they don’t know, they’ll look for them, and I wanted her to understand that our grandma is not there anymore. But she ran away and got underneath my parents’ bed. And after they’d taken my grandma’s body, she stopped eating. She’s not a very vocal cat, but she was just walking around the house, crying all of the time.”
Months later, Trooper is in a much better mental state of mind, but Alexis says, "you can tell that she definitely misses Grandma."
Knowing that a good cat story is always worth sharing, Alexis turned to a cat group on Facebook to share Trooper's life with fellow cat lovers but she didn't expect the story to go viral. However, she's very glad it did. She told The Dodo:
I think that cats have a very bad reputation when it comes to people not thinking that they actually love us. So when I saw Trooper so dedicated and so loyal to my grandmother, I really wanted to share that because people don’t understand that cats may not be like dogs, but they definitely do have emotion, and they do have feelings and they love us very much. They just aren’t as good as showing us as dogs are. But they definitely do love us.
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