There is no one in this world that Trooper the cat loves more than her best friend, 96-year old, Sarah Whaley.
It was Alexis Hackney – Sarah’s granddaughter – and her family, who first met Trooper. They were in the middle of renovating their home when they heard a gentle mewing from the basement. When they went in to investigate, they found a tiny newborn kitten.
“She was in the wall, and my mom and sister had to get a sledgehammer, and bust out the sheetrock and get her,” Alexis told The Dodo. “She was about 2 weeks old. Her eyes were barely open.”
They searched for the kitty’s mother but couldn’t find her, so the cat went home with them to Tallahassee, Florida, where they lived with Sarah.
“My grandmother actually lived with us for 18 years. 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.”, Alexis shared.
Sarah adored all cats in their home, but she developed a particularly close bond with the rescue, who she showered with special treatment.
“My grandmother would bottle-feed her, and she’d sit there and talk to her, and tell her how cute and sweet she is,” Alexis said. “Trooper’s the kind of cat where she has one person, and that person was definitely my grandmother.”
It was obvious to everyone how much Trooper and Sarah loved each other. But the family didn’t know the extent of this connection until Sarah got very ill. “My grandmother started going more downhill around Christmas, and we started noticing her [Trooper] being there all the time,” Alexis recalled.
In a mission to comfort her best friend, Trooper not only spent most of her days sleeping on the bed with Sarah, but she also brought her different “gifts” she picked up 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. 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.”, Alexis said.
She says that Trooper had this look in her eyes, telling them that she knew and understood what was going on. She was obviously upset that her human was extremely ill, and did all that she can to help ease her suffering.
When her best friend would have panic attacks, Trooper would hurry to her side and 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 her grandmother came to a point where she couldn’t talk anymore, having Trooper by her side definitely helped her remain calm. The cat also never retaliated, even when Sarah accidentally hurts her a little during moments of confusion.
“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.”
Everyone in the family witnessed how much Trooper loved Sarah, and the pain in her eyes when she looks at her sick best friend is just heartbreaking to see.
The inevitable moment came – Sarah passed away a few days before her 97th birthday. Alexis said that Trooper was inconsolable at that time and didn’t even want to be around her grandmother’s body.
“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.”
Trooper had been doing a lot better after the funeral, but Alexis says that she still goes into Sarah’s room to drop off gifts on the floor of her bedroom, such as socks and other objects. It was clear that she was terribly missing her human.
With this, Alexis had a message for those people who regard cats as unloving and steely creatures.
“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.”
For cat-owners, this touching story surely hit home. But hopefully, this story also encourages people who aren’t such big fans of the feline species to reevaluate their judgments. Alexis is right – cats and dogs are almost always compared. But we have to remember that they are different, thus, they also have distinct ways of expressing themselves.
Yes, there may be cats out there who exhibit an indifferent attitude – just as there are naughty dogs who give their owners a headache – but, there are also a lot of other cats who don’t. One perfect example of that is the feline in our story, Trooper, who perfectly demonstrated her loyalty to her owner until her very last breath.