Early in 2002, my husband Bill and I surrendered Gizmo, our beloved, sickly 17-year-old Shih Tzu to our kindly veterinarian, asking that he administer the shot to end our pet’s suffering. 

After asking Gizmo’s remains to be cremated separately so we could keep them with us, we left numb with grief.  The days dragged by: we escaped our pet-empty home to visit restaurants, but were overwhelmed with loneliness when we returned to our deathly silent home.  . 

ix weeks later, on a cold, rainy February afternoon as I drove home from the city, I called Bill to say I was on my way.  He warned me to drive carefully, adding,

“You’ll never believe what I found outside - this little yellow cat – he looked real young – huddled up beside the garage out of the rain!  He meowed pitifully when he saw me.”

“That’s so sad – what did you do?” 

“Oh; I dried him off, then wrapped him in a towel, and carried him around the block, thinking he might belong to our neighbor Jerry, but he didn’t, and nobody else knew where he came from, either.”

Remembering how Bill never had a pet cat, I doubted he would want to keep this one.  However, after welcoming the orphan into our laundry room and feeding him a can of tuna fish - the only cat-appropriate food we had - that he devoured, Bill’s heart softened.  He found a carton, lined it with old towels, and invited the lonely vagrant to spend the night in our garage where he seemed perfectly at home. Saturday and Sunday we provided our guest food and drink, and he even visited neighbors on either side of our house who also fed him.  We conferred, and decided that since we lost Gizmo, we needed a pet, and our neighbors already had cats, so it made sense for us to keep this cat.  On Sunday afternoon Bill left without saying where he was going, then returned from Pet Smart with cat food and a cat carrier bearing the sign, “Jerry Hartmeyer!”  I knew then we probably had a cat!  Bill added,

“If we’re going to keep this cat, he needs to get checked out, so let’s take him to the doctor first thing tomorrow.”

Our vet confirmed Jerry was about a year old and healthy, so we left him for his shots and neutering.  When we brought him home the next day, Jerry instantly disappeared under our second car in the garage where he slept on an old blanket left there to catch oil leaks for 24 hours.  His pride suffered at the vet’s office, as well as his young body, but we knew now he was healthy, ready to spend his life with us.

Apparently unaccustomed to living indoors, Jerry remained a garage dweller for almost two years.  We often talked about where he came from, why he was so wary of entering the house, and how he ended up in our neighborhood on that rainy day.

“I bet he came from a family with a bunch of kids, because he’s well socialized,” Bill offered. 

“Yeah, and they probably had a cat who had kittens, but when they got big, the people wanted to find ‘homes’ for them, so they drove around our neighborhood and decided to put this little kitten out, hoping somebody would take him in – which was just what happened.”

Although Jerry came into our laundry room adjoining the garage for his meals, he preferred spending nights in his outside refuge, so we realized he had never been a “house cat.”  Then gradually he came a little further into our family room where he captured our hearts with his antics and his silky golden hair that we loved brushing each morning as we offered him catnip and played with him on the floor, tossing cat toys for him to chase and toss about.

One day Bill found an ad for a “heated cat-cup,” a small fleece-lined pet bed that could be plugged in to provide heat for a garage-dweller like our pet.  That was just what Jerry needed so he could snuggle up in the garage near the door to our house on cold winter nights.   Gradually he seemed to feel more at home indoors.  Warm in winter and cool in summer, with food and water nearby, the inside looked better with every passing year.  But it wasn’t until our neighbors on the south side had extensive tree work done – grinding, sawing, even falling branches – so noisy that Jerry ventured to the far side of the house to our bedroom and pounced atop our bed where we could comfort him.  He found that a rewarding adventure as we lay near him, gently caressing his golden fur while thunder clapped outside and rain began pelting our roof.

“Bill,” I said, “did you ever think how it’s funny Jerry’s the same color as our Gizmo?  I wonder why that happened?”

“Yes; and I wonder when Gizmo left us if his gentle spirit found this little kitty and sent him to us, knowing he could heal our broken hearts!  It seems more than coincidence that Jerry came to us so soon after we lost Gizmo!”

“I think you’ve got something there – sure, I think he sent Jerry to us; he’s been such blessing and so much company all these years!”

June 12 2013

Emily’s story about how Jerry came to live with her husband Bill and herself first appeared in a recent issue of Angel Animals.


Emily T. Hartmeyer was born in Laurel, Maryland.  She moved to Florida and then returned to Maryland and married her childhood friend.  Emily was employed Washington, DC law firm.  She now is retired and lives in Florida with her pet cat Jerry.


A Cats Prayer

Lead me down all the right paths,
Keep me from fleas, bees, and baths.
Let me in should it storm,
Keep me safe, fed, and warm.


Sponsored Advert