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  • Writer's pictureS. Rae

Thank You Mr. Greaves

Seventeen years ago this month I was driving down the dead end road leading to my house when I spotted a beautiful, young adult cat coming out from the underbrush of a wooded lot.

His beautiful champagne color caught my attention first so I pulled my truck off the side of the road and got out. The moment the cat realized my intentions of approaching him he froze in fear. I have seen many fearful cats in my twenty years of being in the vet business, but I had never seen a cat as fearful as this one.

The moment I made a move toward him he bolted back into the underbrush of the wooded lot and I wondered if I’d ever see him again. I did see him though, a couple of months later and he looked awful. Not being able to get close enough to have a reasonable look I could only assume he was fighting off infection from an abscess, or worse, kitty illnesses like FIP, FIV, or any number of illnesses unvaccinated cats can be exposed to in the wild.

Fearing that my fearful friend had probably died from his injuries or illness, I was shocked to see him emerge from the wooded lot six months later looking healthy and spry, but still very, very afraid. Every time I saw him I would leave cat food or treats a safe distance off the side of the road in an attempt to coax him closer to my house which was at the end of the dead end street where he would be much safer.

After a couple of years of coaxing, talking, and offering treats I was successful in getting him to live in the wooded lot next to my house. Several more months passed and I was able to coax him into living in the outbuilding where he successfully rode out a couple of hurricanes.

As the months turned into years, I had almost given up on touching him, and by now he had a name, Red Legs Greaves. Captain Red Legs Greaves was a pirate from the 1670’s, and was known for his decency in the way he treated his prisoners. While living in the Florida Keys I named my cats after pirates and this fearful cat deserved all the decency and love I could muster.

One beautiful fall day I was in the backyard and I called for Mr. Greaves. He came out of the outbuilding as I sat on the walkway offering him food. He came over to the food and while he had his head down eating I reached out and touched the top of his head. Without hesitation he bolted for the woods.

I hung my shaking head in disbelief that after four years of hard work was this the best pet I was going to get? When I lifted my head I was stunned to see him sitting in front of me on the walkway. I couldn’t believe he had come back so quickly, and the mask of fear he always carried on his face was gone.

I now had a new cat looking back at me, and I was amazed! Somehow Mr. Greaves was able to reach inside himself to find the courage to trust me and push the fear away. I never saw that fearful kitty again and he couldn’t get enough petting from that day forward.

Even on the day he passed, like my little ferret Sarge, who had the Queen to escort him home last month, Mr. Red Legs Greaves had Loretta Lynn to hold his paw as he too went home this past Tuesday, without a fearful look on his beautiful face.

Godspeed Mr. Greaves and Loretta Lynn, thank you both for all you have given to all of us, and to you my dear Red Legs, thanks for all the love you have shown your family over the past seventeen years, and the many lessons you have taught me. I’ll be coming home soon enough and you and I can hang out with Loretta, the Queen, Sarge, and all those we’ve lost over the years.

Carpe Diem fearful folks and felines. We all have the courage to overcome whatever we need to face as long as we have faith in ourselves to do it.

Mr. Greaves before being petted

Mr. Greaves after being petted.

Never give up, anything is possible as long as you stick with it.

One happily loved Mr. Greaves. Never to be forgotten.

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