When they realized what the cat was doing, they almost couldn’t believe it. All cats are prone to strange and unexplainable behaviors, but this was way out of the ordinary. They’d lived with this cat for almost four years, and they’d never seen her do something like this. But they didn’t have to wonder for too long about what was triggering these random actions. Something was changing in their household - and the cat knew it.
They couldn’t believe it had been almost four years since they rescued their cat, Trooper. Alexis Hackney and her family flip houses for a living. One day, they went into a house they had recently bought. They inspected every room as they usually do, but this time something strange happened. When they were down in the basement, they heard meowing sounds. But they couldn’t see any cats around. That’s when they realized where it was.
The meows were coming from inside one of the walls. They had no idea how it had got in there, but they knew they had to get it out. Alexis’ mother and sister grabbed a sledgehammer and busted out the sheetrock. That’s when they saw it: a tiny kitten, no more than two weeks old. “Her eyes were barely open,” remembers Alexis. Now they had to decide what they were going to do with this cat.
The family went around the house trying to find the kitten’s mother, but they had no luck. That said, they weren’t about to leave this tiny creature to her own devices. So they took her home and gave her the name Trooper. Everyone in the house is an animal lover, so Trooper quickly became part of the family. But there was one person in particular who she bonded with almost immediately: Alexis’ grandmother, 92-year-old Sarah Whaley.
Grandma Sarah had lived with the Hackneys for more than a decade after she moved in to help Alexis’ mom take care of her and her siblings. “She just kind of stayed,” said Alexis. “She was definitely a major part of our household. She was the matriarch.” More than anybody else in the family, grandma Sarah loved dogs and cats. So when they brought little Trooper home, the elderly woman immediately became the kitten’s primary caretaker.
For the first few weeks of Trooper’s life, grandma Sarah lovingly bottle-fed her. “She’d sit there and talk to her, and tell her how cute and sweet she is,” says Alexis. Unsurprisingly, Trooper became closely attached to the elderly woman. “Trooper’s the kind of cat where she has one person, and that person was definitely my grandmother.” And the feeling was mutual. But the family didn’t truly realize how deep their connection was until things started to take a turn for the worse.
fotolia by Adobe
Around Christmas of last year, grandma Sarah fell ill. She had been sick before - after all, she was 96 years old. But the family could sense this time was different. Her condition kept getting worse and worse, and doctors told them there wasn’t much they could do. Alexis and her family, having known about grandma Sarah’s health problems for a while, were prepared for this and knew what was coming. But there was one member of their household who didn’t take the news very well.
The family started noticing that Trooper never left grandma Sarah’s side. She slept on the bed with her and stayed in her room almost all day. When the elderly woman started losing mobility, Trooper started doing something she’d never done before. “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,” says Alexis. It seemed as if Trooper thought bringing her gifts would help her get better. Sadly, her efforts were fruitless.
Grandma Sarah’s health kept deteriorating, but having Trooper by her side gave her a feeling of comfort when she couldn’t communicate anymore. However, as she lost her sense of reality she became disoriented and started having panic attacks. Nothing could scare Trooper away, though. “She would accidentally hit her or squeeze her too hard, and Trooper would never fight back,” says Alexis. “She loved my grandma, and she never ever scratched her or bit her or anything.” But the end was near - and Trooper knew it.
The family was amazed at all the love and care Trooper showed for grandma Sarah during her final days. “She loved my grandma so much, and you could tell by the way she would look at her when she was sick,” says Alexis. “It just broke your heart to see all of this pain in her eyes.” Finally, it was over. Grandma Sarah passed away in March, a few days before her 97th birthday. And Trooper was as heartbroken as anyone else in the household.
After grandma Sarah passed away, Alexis was afraid Trooper would look for her when she was gone. So she took the cat to the room where her body was, but Trooper couldn’t bear the sight. “She ran away and got underneath my parents’ bed,” says Alexis. And the cat’s grief went even deeper. “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.” But they say time heals all wounds.
Time passed, and eventually, Trooper seemed to have accepted that grandma Sarah was gone and wasn’t coming back. She stopped crying and started eating again. But she always carries the memory of the loving old woman and continues paying tribute to her by leaving socks and other objects on her bedroom floor. “You can tell that she definitely misses Grandma,” Alexis said. She was so moved by this experience, that she decided to share it.
Alexis is a member of a Facebook group called “Cool Cats Group.” She decided to share the story of Trooper and her grandma. “I think that cats have a very bad reputation when it comes to people not thinking that they actually love us,” she wrote. “So when I saw Trooper so dedicated and so loyal to my grandmother, I really wanted to share that.” Alexis wanted people to understand that cats do love their humans.
“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,” Alexis continued. “They just aren’t as good as showing us as dogs are. But they definitely do love us.” Her post clearly struck a chord, because it quickly went viral. And it may seem that science agrees with her.
Although cats have a reputation for being unaffectionate and manipulative, recent research suggests they do form bonds with humans. It’s just that their ways of showing affection are quite different than dogs. While dogs are needy and thrive off human attention, cats are independent and curious. But research shows they do consider their humans as part of their “clan.” We think that, after hearing Trooper’s story, not even cat-bashers can deny this.