Ghost Cat: Penguin

The day was August 2, 2014. My younger cat, Penguin, of 12 years had suffered a stroke. My husband brought her to the vet and they revealed it was due to high blood pressure. She was sent home with fluids and 3 medications. She wasn’t eating so I had to force feed her with a syringe. We had to keep her in our spare bedroom, in the basement, on request of the vet. Our older cat, Joy, kept her distance, but you could tell she wasn’t happy about the situation.

Three days into recovery Penguin seemed to give up. She didn’t fight me when I gave her medication or food. On her final morning I went to be with her. The second I saw her on the floor staring at me, I knew she didn’t want to be here anymore. I sat by her side and pet her. I cried with her. I begged her to stay. She simply cuddled up to me, purred, and passed. August 4, 2014 at 11am I said goodbye to my precious Penguin.

A few things to note, before I continue. Penguin was the definition of a scaredy cat. She feared her own shadow. I was her person and she always laid next to me when going to sleep. She was skittish, yes, but loving when she found the courage. She was quite small, gray fur, with a few speckles of orange.

Back to the story at hand. It killed me to keep her in that room. It was mostly empty except for a table she hid behind. The food and water dish we kept in there for her stayed there for a good week. We keep our doors open in the house, but I hated that room so much I kept the door shut. For the longest time I wouldn’t even go in the basement. Occasionally I could still hear her crying from that room. There were moments when I would catch her walking by me. I’d look to get a better view, but she’d never be there.

Four months later my mom agreed to get me a dog for my birthday. We went from shelter to house to farm, with no luck. We barely got to pet a dog let alone get one. After a month of searching I felt defeated. Our final stop was the shelter closest to us, that we had visited multiple times. My oldest daughter was sad that she, still, did not get to see a dog. As we passed by the cat sanctuary she asked if we could look at the cats. Feeling down I saw no harm.

Once we got in the sanctuary we were immediately greeted by a multicolored kitten with big bright eyes. He began rubbing his cheeks to my and my daughter’s faces. He had no issue with being close to us. Needless to say he came home with us. Here is where things get weird. When we brought Garrus, that’s what we named him, home he was curious yet cautious. Normal for any animal in a new home. After two weeks he made his way around the house okay. We moved the food and cat littler upstairs to save us from any accidents.

Once he seemed more acclimated, we moved the food and litter back to the basement. The first time I brought him downstairs he became upset, frantic even. It confused me. He was always so quiet and calm. He never once had struggled with anyone like this before. I made it to the last step and showed him the food and litter. He quickly got away from me and ran up the stairs. When I went back up to find him, he was waiting to greet me as if nothing happened.

Time passed and I noticed he would go down to eat, do his business, but never explore or stay for too long. After 2 months I woke up to him crying. I got up and searched for him. I couldn’t locate him upstairs and he stopped crying. As I walked about I felt a cold, soft, wind brush my feet. A chill went up my spine. I looked down and swear I saw Penguin lead me from the hallway through the kitchen, to the basement.

For a moment I couldn’t believe it. I was hesitant to follow, but relished the chance to see her again. Once in the basement I turned to go to the room she was in. Right by the door was Garrus, sitting. I stared at him wondering what he was doing. He hated the basement, as did I. He looked normal, he didn’t seem in distress. He did stare intently at me. I reached for the door handle and he got to his feet.

I slowly opened the door. Out came a small gust of cold soft wind and in went Garrus. I froze again at the feeling, letting it pass over me. Once I calmed down I entered the room. Everything was as I left it. The table, the emptiness. It smelled like Penguin. I looked to the small window searching to see if it was opened. I wanted to explain the wind I kept feeling. It was sealed shut. I paused and remembered Garrus was in the room. I quickly looked in the corner where Penguin last was.

There he sat, right where she did. Gazing at me as if he had known me for years. I gazed back and a flood of emotions ran through me. Confusion, love, loneliness, anger, fear, and happiness. All at once. I asked him, “Do you see her? Feel her?”. He slow blinked at me and did a noise that’s between a purr and a meow. Odd thing was Penguin made that noise. Whenever you’d sneak up on her, or walk by her, or touch her when she was sleeping. She would always make that noise. The stranger thing is Garrus had yet to make a noise like that at all. Not once. He would meow and purr, nothing in between.

I’m not sure what to think of the whole encounter. Since then Garrus will keep close tabs on me. He always sleeps next to me, as Penguin did, he greets me when I arrive home, like Penguin did, and is far more affectionate towards me than he was before. I did some more thinking on the matter recently and discovered he was born the same day Penguin had passed.

He hated the basement as much as I’m sure Penguin did, and now he will not leave me be. I’m happy to have him. I still miss my Penguin, but there are similarities I simply cannot shake now. I wanted to share my story to hear your thoughts.