About 11 years ago, we got a little black kitten and I named her Garae (pronounded Gah-RAY-ya). She was a tiny thing and adventurous, but from the very beginning, she was loving to everyone in the house. She especially took to me and enjoyed jumping or climbing up on my shoulder, where she’d curl up and go to sleep. As small as she was, she had a huge spirit, so much so that I named a character in my first book after Garae. In the book, Garae is a werecat, black, ferocious and seven feet tall at the shoulder. That kitten was only a few inches tall, but she did act as if she was seven feet tall.
As Garae grew, she also showed that she had a keen intelligence. She was also an excellent hunter, but she knew that our pet birds were off limits. One memory was of caring for a rock dove that had been injured by a car. One day the dove got out of its cage and flew around the house. Garae caught it, but she used neither claws nor teeth to do it. She merely pinned it to the floor until I could get over to pick it up and return it to its cage.
Garae was also our ‘good will ambassador’. I was rehabilitating wild animals periodically and she would greet them all with a sniff and a lick. Once, we rescued two orphaned baby ground squirrels. Garae gave them the customary lick of greeting, then apparently paid no further attention to the little squirrels, who were too young to even have teeth yet. I fashioned a cage for the little rodents, and we put the cage in our bedroom so they could be fed their milk during the night. That night, we were awakened to the sound of a cat fight. Flipping on the lights, we saw what had happened. One of our other cats had gone to investigate the squirrels. It most likely wouldn’t have done anything to them, but Garae was taking no chances. She’d chased the other cat away from the cage. From that point on, Garae or Rae as we sometimes called her, slept on the cage to protect those babies and the other cats knew better than to mess with her when she was being protective. Rae basically adopted the squirrels.
Rae was also the peace-keeper, a role she took on when she wasn’t quite a year old. At the time, we had several other cats and some dogs. Whenever any two of them began to fight, Garae would step between them literally. She would look at one and then the other, as if to say, “Go ahead and try it!” If they tried to swat at her, she’d give them a very fast and brief attitude adjustment. She didn’t particularly care if they were a lot bigger than her, either. In fact, through the years, she was the one cat we have had that didn’t get picked on by any of our pets. They didn’t really fear her, they respected and loved her. At one time or another, every one of them curled up and slept next to Garae, including one cat we have who doesn’t like other cats.
I called Rae my gardening cat. She seemed to love to follow me to the garden and lay between the rows while I did my weeding or whatever. One day, I went to the garden and started working on the weeds around some beans. Rae walked to the end of the row to where the tomatoes were growing. She reached up and swatted at the top of the plant, then looked back at me and mewed. Her meow was always nearly silent, but I was watching her, trying to figure out what in the world she was doing. She repeated the swat and meow several times, until I finally got up and went to see what she was doing. She obviously wanted me to see something.
The tomatoes were being infested by aphids! Somehow she knew that they didn’t belong there and was letting me know about it so I could deal with the infestation. If she hadn’t let me know when she did, the aphids would have been an enormous problem before I discovered them.
People sometimes say that cats really aren’t all that intelligent, but Rae sure was. One hot summer day, I was in the living room, cleaning with the windows open. Rae was outside and I happened to glance out the window just in time to see her jump about four feet off the ground to catch a bird. She proudly jumped into the living room and laid the dead bird at my feet. I said, “That was a beautiful catch, Garae, but I really don’t need feathers all over the house. Take it outside to eat it.”
She looked at me for a moment, then picked up the bird, jumped back out the window, went to a shaded spot and laid down, where she proceeded to eat the bird. I honestly don’t think that was just a coincidence.
Garae loved boiled fish. Last year, she became sick and started losing weight. We’d been planning a week-long camping trip for months, so we took her with us. She was perfectly content to stay in camp, mostly in the tent, and would come out when we’d boil up some fish for her. The fish made her seem to get marginally better and a lot more energetic. Still, she kept losing weight. Early this year, though we couldn’t afford it, we took her to a vet, who gave her a complete blood workup and took x-rays. The bad news was that she had a severely swollen liver and it was partly blocking her digestive system. The vet said that there wasn’t much we could do for her except to make her happy for the time she had left. Surgery could be done, but it would be extremely expensive and the vet was nearly certain that Rae was so weak that she wouldn’t survive the operation, nor that the operation would really fix the problem.
Four days ago, we went fishing and among the other fish we caught were some white fish. Garae loved boiled fish, but she was especially fond of white fish. Though she was quite weak by now, she naturally got all the white fish she wanted and she made it a point to give us love, to say thank you. Every time she’d eat, she’d purr the entire time.
Last night, April 14, 2016, Garae passed away, in my arms. She fought a good battle, but just didn’t have the strength to continue. I’m glad that we were able to give her a feast of her favorite food before it happened, and I give thanks to God for bringing her into our lives and for helping her to live for an extra year. I’m extremely saddened at the loss of my gardening and camping cat, to the point that I can’t convey what I’m feeling right now.
Beloved little werecat, Garae, you have enriched our lives and we will not forget you. Rest in peace, sweetheart.
Posted in musings and tagged garae, garden cat, loving memory, pet, special, werecat by rextrulove with 3 comments.