Trooper the cat has a very special place in his heart for 96-year-old Sarah Whaley
While flipping a property in 2014, Alexis Hackney and her family discovered Trooper when they heard her meowing from the basement and went to check.
“She was in the wall, and my mom and sister had to get a sledgehammer, and bust out the sheetrock and get her,” Hackney told The Dodo. “She was about 2 weeks old. Her eyes were barely open.”
They couldn’t locate Trooper’s mother, so they brought the little kitten to their Tallahassee, Florida, home, where they lived with Hackney’s grandmother, Whaley.
“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.
Whaley not only liked her grandkids, but she also enjoyed the household pets. Trooper, in particular, became a personal friend of hers.
“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.”
While everyone could see how much Trooper loved Whaley and how much Whaley loved Trooper, the family didn’t realize how close they were until Whaley fell ill.
“My grandmother started going more downhill around Christmas [last year], and we started noticing her [Trooper] being there all the time,” Hackney said.
Trooper slept on Whaley’s bed most of the time, but she also brought her gifts from around the home.
“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.”
“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.
Whaley would have panic attacks now and then, and Trooper would rush to her side to console 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.”
“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.”
Nothing appeared to frighten Trooper away from Whaley’s hospital bed.
“Whenever my grandmother was going through the process of passing away, she became very disoriented,” Hackney said. “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.”
“She loved my grandma so much, and you could tell by the way she would look at her when she was sick,” Hackney added. “It just broke your heart to see all of this pain in her eyes.”
Trooper was heartbroken when Whaley died in March, just days before her 97th birthday.
“She didn’t want to be around my grandma’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 is doing much better now, according to Hackney, but she still enters Whaley’s room and throws socks and other items on the floor.
“You can tell that she definitely misses Grandma,” Hackney said.
Hackney recently posted on a restricted Facebook forum called Cool Cats Group about her grandmother’s love with Trooper, and the post went viral.