The Guardian

It’s Move Me Monday.  Do you love amazing pet stories?  The kind where a pet’s love for its owner leads them to strange and sometimes miraculous acts of heroism?  Well I’ve got a personal one to share with you.  I wrote this article in college as part of a class assignment.  Part of the assignment was to query magazines for each article we wrote (talk about a scary class!).  Anyway, I Love Cats magazine decided to print it in 2006.  Here’s the story.

Mom awoke in the middle of the night to an unfamiliar noise: a loud meowing.  Until that moment, my longhaired cat, Ashley, had never made a sound—not a howl, not a hiss, not a mewl. We had assumed she was mute.

That night, however, my mother found Ashley pacing and yowling in the hallway.  My mom knew cats were smart–there had to be some reason silent Ashley was suddenly crying.  Worried, Mom came into my room where the cat usually slept.   She found me, her diabetic daughter, suffering from a severe drop in blood sugar, too weak to call for help.  Had Mom not checked on me, I might have had a seizure, slipped into a coma, or died.

I found Ashley through an ad in the Mercury News; a family had taken in a cat, not knowing it was pregnant.  Ashley was the shyest of the three kittens needing a home. I felt drawn to her, being shy myself.  Her fur was beautifully brindled: ash gray, wood tan, and cloud white.

Ashley loved freshly baked bread.  The sound of the can-opener didn’t do a thing for her, but the sweet aroma of bread in the bread machine did. Ashley was also the only cat I’ve ever seen who liked to play with water.  We couldn’t convince her that her water dish was strictly for drinking.  Spritzing her only encouraged these shenanigans.

Ashley never used her voice for herself—even when she was stepped on or accidentally locked in a closet—but she was my voice on multiple nights when my blood sugar dropped to dangerous levels, and I was either too weak to call out or too deep in sleep to wake.  She was an ordinary house cat, napping on pillows, lounging on the windowsill, and chasing flies through the house.  Nobody knew about her nighttime heroics unless I told them, and nobody will ever convince me that cats are useless, lazy pets.

In 2004, Ashley took her turn to fall asleep and didn’t wake up.  I still miss her, but my family will always remember her as the heroine who saved my life several times.  She was more than just a house pet, more than a child’s best friend.  Ashley was my guardian angel.

Losing a pet is always hard.  It took me several years before I could open my heart again.  As most of you probably know, I now have a beautiful tortie whom I absolutely adore.  With time comes healing, and the heart is big enough to make room for additions.

Do you have any amazing pet stories?  Have you lost a beloved pet?  How long did you wait before opening your heart and home again?  I love hearing from you!


For the rest of September, everyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing to win a free e-book copy of Elemental Magic when it releases.  Five winners will be selected.

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39 comments on “The Guardian

  1. Hartford says:

    Beautiful story Angela – I love it! I’ve always been a huge cat lover. I had two up until a year or so ago. Neither saved my physical life but both were always there when things got tough and in their own way, helped me through it. Precious, they’ll both always hold a special place in my heart. Here’s to one day having another one. 🙂

  2. amyshojai says:

    Angela, this is awesome–I know many folks who have “diabetic alert dogs” but few cases are reported about cats. And we KNOW they care just as much and know how to do it too. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Stacy Green says:

    What a beautiful story. Animals are so smart, and our pets get very in tune to us. My cat used to show up out of nowhere every time I was upset, whether I was crying or just wanting to. She never failed to touch my nose and snuggle. And now our dogs are very much in tune to emotions. It’s amazing.

  4. Angela, you’ve got me tearing up here, which brings my Weimaraner on the double to check me out. What a wonderful story, and what a great cat. I’m allergic to cats, 😦 but my 100-pound Weimaraner knows when I’m upset. I cry at movies, at sad stories, and am just a general softie; he will come from wherever he is to comfort me before I get to the second sniffle.
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Susan A. says:

    Angela, that is wonderful story of one terrific cat! I am sure you missed her a lot after she passed on. None of my cats have been quite that heroic, but my current one was there for me when I needed her. A few years ago I was going through some very rough times. My husband still hadn’t made it to the US and I was very worried about him. The people at my job harassed me unmericfully for marrying him and made my life as difficult as possible. I lived alone and my family wasn’t all that supportive either because most didn’t agree with my marriage back then.

    Needless to say, there were times that I would be sitting at home and break down in raw tears. Not much can get to me, but being branded an outcaste by family and work as well as not having the man I love close to me did it. Every so often I couldn’t contain the pain anymore and it flowed out. One night I was racked in sobs on the bed and my kitty who wasn’t more than four or five months old then came and started licking the tears off my face. It was so sweet. She let me hold her tight until I calmed down. It meant a lot that she could love me unconditionally and not judge me like everyone else did. Ironically, they all got over their prejudice after meeting my husband once he got here, but before that it was sheer hell.

  6. Beautiful story Angela. Pets always amaze me and they definitely pick up on things we don’t expect. I don’t have any life-saving pet stories but all my pets have been/are a huge part of my life and the grief process has been different with animal (just like with people).

    Thanks for sharing your memories 🙂

  7. Cheryel Hutton says:

    My longhair dachshund probably saved my life. Not as dramatically as your guardian saved yours, but he helped me survive a really rough time in my life.

    I have chronic physical problems along with a propensity for depression. A few years ago, both got out of control. I couldn’t walk, was not getting answers from the doctors, and I was I a lot of pain. Not surprisingly, I got depressed. But the depression got worse and worse. But it was impossible to give up hope with a little black and brown furball in my lap. Cujo (yep,it’s supposed to be funny) kept me going.

    He still knows when I get upset, and he comes to me and wants up in my lap. He’s special, and I don’t know what I would have done without him.

    • Cheryel, yes, animals are so great for the healing process. It’s impossible for them not to lift our spirits. After Ashley died and I didn’t have a cat, I was more vulnerable to depression as well. Cujo sounds wonderful. 🙂

  8. Cheryl says:

    Angela, thanks for sharing your heartwarming, beautiful story of your Ashley. Your writing has moved me deeply and I’m sure you still miss your beloved friend, even though, with time, your heart has healed enough to open and you have made room for another. Making room for another in your heart does not mean you are replacing a life so dear to you, it simply means your Ashley now has a friend , your Teagan, to share that spot in your heart with her. I am certain that Teagan would save you too…..that’s just how intuitive and smart our feline friends are! <3<3<3

  9. cc spencer says:

    ah wee…now you made me cry……=)

  10. Marcia says:

    Love pet stories and pets! I’ve lost many over my lifetime and it takes a bit of time to get past the hurt of the loss. They’ll always be in my heart. Currently, the only pet my husband will tolerate is my 7 year-old DSH cat, Rocky. He follows me everywhere and sleeps next to my computer when I’m working. It’s not easy to type well when he’s lying on the caps key. 🙂 Beautifully told story, Angela. Glad Ashley saved you, for us.

  11. Elena Aitken says:

    a beautiful story. You made me cry. 🙂
    I’m a cat lady too. And while they’ve never saved my life, they’ve saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

  12. Like Elena, my eyes are wet. What wonderful story of feline heroics. Losing a pet is so, so difficult; we had to put our orange marmalade tabby down two years ago, and I still desperately miss her. But for us, we found the easiest way to fill that gaping wound was to have the pitter patter of feet in our house again. So about 6 months later, we welcomed two Bengal brother/sisters into our home. In fact, they are highlighted on my blog today (with photos)!

  13. Hi, Angela. What a beautiful story. My kitties have never done anything heroic, but the other day the baby, a siamese mix, got stuck in the closet and didn’t make a peep. The older, wiser one hunkered down outside the door and didn’t move for over an hour…until I figured something was up and opened the closet door.

    i’ve lost three, and each loss was incredibly painful, but my husband and I always start trekking to the animal shelter a few weeks after we lose a beloved pet. It usually takes us quite awhile to find a new family member because it has to be just the right cat. And they have to pick us.

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Lucie j.

  14. Sia says:

    Loved it! Thank you for sharing it. Heartwarming and close to home for me. I only wish mine wake me up for something heroic instead of the usual, “Mom, the litter box it too full and I need to go” or “My water and food dish are nearly empty and I may want a 3am snack.”

    • Lol. Oh, so true, Sia. My kitty now wakes me up in the middle of the night attacking my feet. “What? Of course it’s play time. Didn’t you get the memo? No, well here’s a reminder. *whack*”

  15. What a beautiful story- I miss having cats.

  16. A beautiful story about a beautiful cat. They are such special creatures. I don’t think I would feel right without a cat in my life.

  17. That brought tears to my eyes – how wonderful that you were able to share your life with Ashley 🙂

    I love all of my animals and dread the day I loose them. Our first cat died while we were on vacation and I was so devastated that I didn’t clean the house for a month. I couldn’t stand to vaccuum up all that hair that would never be replaced.

    • That’s awful, Becka! I can understand not wanting to erase all signs of his presence. Every year my current kitty gets older, I dread it too. We just have to remind ourselves that they lived their lives to the fullest with us, and we can give that same second chance to another pet in need.

  18. linda says:

    Thanks for sharing this story, Angela! Ashley sounds amazing. I’ve always envied people with pets since I’ve never had one myself. I’m glad you were able to open your heart again!

  19. That is such an endearing story. I lost my dog, Max, a couple years back right before Christmas. The family took it pretty hard. We used to breed boxers, so we’ve had him since he was born. We have other dogs, but I don’t think there’ll ever be a pet that would replace him. He was special.

    • Hi Sheenah. Losing a pet at any time is hard, but to have it darken an entire holiday is even worse. Max will never be replaced, but each one is special in their own way. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  20. […] I’m “reprinting” with permission a story by Angela Wallace about her guardian cat Ashley, which appeared in I Love Cats magazine in […]

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