74: The Hero Cat

74: The Hero Cat

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

The Hero Cat

I have studied many philosophers and many cats.

The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.

~Hippolyte Taine

She showed up one day on our front porch. “Don’t touch her, Joshua,” I warned. “She might be sick. She probably has fleas.” This skinny, beat-up, stray cat found her way to us.

Well, to my six-year-old son Joshua at least. I should have known that moment it was too late. Joshua thought she was beautiful. He fell in love with her and started sneaking her food. Truth be known, I kind of liked her and felt sorry for her too. I encouraged Joshua to feed her until we figured out where she belonged.

Josh was sure that she was a boy and named her Gary. Mostly because he wanted a boy cat not a girl cat. The rest of the family thought this was a good name and it stuck. Well, Gary progressed from sleeping on the porch to the entryway, and then to the living room, kitchen and the rest of the house. She grew and her fur filled in as she regained her health. Gary became friends rather quickly with our dog Patch, a little Jack Russell Terrier. Patch was the kind of dog that everybody loved. She had been with us for years and we considered her a full-fledged family member. The two of them would chase each other around the house, share food, and nap in the sun in the back yard.

I was cleaning the kitchen one morning as Gary slept in the hallway. My kids and Patch were playing in the front yard. Suddenly, there was a commotion outside — kids were screaming, dogs were barking and I ran toward the front door. Not believing what I was seeing, I couldn’t move or make a sound. In through the open front door, at top speed, ran Patch with the neighbor’s Pit Bull close behind. Out of nowhere came Gary. She stood up on her hind legs and emitted a gut-wrenching growl that I have never heard before or since from a cat. The terrified Pit Bull tried to stop and slid at least ten feet across the tile as he turned and fled through the door. Gary, not missing a beat, ran right behind him all the way to the neighbor’s porch, growling and hissing.

The kids and I could not believe what we had just witnessed. Joshua grabbed Gary and hugged her. “Gary, you are so brave. You saved Patch’s life!” We had a celebration dinner that night for Gary the “hero” cat.

Several years later Patch died. Our family was heartbroken. We buried her in our side yard and marked her grave with a memorial cross. That afternoon I was missing Patch and went to the side yard with my coffee. There was Gary, lying on the fresh grave, sleeping. She missed her friend too. I sat with her for a while and smiled as I remembered the time she had defended Patch, taking on a Pit Bull without a second thought. I am so thankful for the day that a skinny, beat-up, stray cat found her way to us.

~Lori Bryant

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