© Diane Crocker
Monika Mattsson, left, of Sweden and June Wishart of Scotland chat with Gladys Batten, a local cat lover, during a visit to Corner Brook on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013. The two women travelled from their homes to meet Trooper the cat.
CORNER BROOK — June Wishart and Monika Mattsson could hardly contain their excitement about being one step closer Monday to meeting Trooper the cat.
“I’m beyond excited. I can’t think of anything else,” said Wishart of Glasgow, Scotland.
“Trying to imagine his soft furry fur, that face, my little Trooper,” added Mattsson of Oskarshamn, Sweden. “He’s a survivor.”
But they’ll have to wait until later today when they head out to the Days Inn in Stephenville to greet the famous feline and his caregiver, Dolores Samms.
“I know for a fact that I will be tearful,” said Wishart while meeting with some local cat lovers for lunch in Corner Brook.
“I can hardly mention the story without filling up.”
Trooper gained notoriety after he was found frozen to a driveway in Stephenville in February 2012 and was rescued by the local animal rights group SCAPA. Pictures of the cat, including some pretty disturbing ones, were posted to Facebook and drew the interest of cat lovers from all over the world, including Wishart and Mattsson.
“As soon as I saw it my heart was breaking,” said Wishart.
While a video of Trooper left Mattsson feeling devastated, it was the pictures she saw later that touched her.
“I saw pictures of Trooper in Gwen’s arms sitting in a car and I looked at his face and I said, ‘You’re going to be fine old man, you’re going to be fine,’ because that urge to live was so apparent in his eyes.”
The Gwen she refers to is Gwen Samms, president SCAPA. Later, the two connected with Samms and other local cat lovers, including a few members and supporters of the local Scaredy Cat Rescue group, through Facebook. They even started contributing to Trooper’s care, raising money among friends, and even strangers, and participating in Facebook auctions.
It’s through little bidding wars the two had during the online auctions that they became friends.
Last December, Wishart started talking with another Facebook friend from Oklahoma about her desire to visit Trooper. That woman was also friends with Gwen Samms, and Wishart soon found herself in the middle of three-way call with the two of them that resulted in an open invitation. Another message to Linda Sheppard of Deer Lake resulted in a place to stay.
Mattsson also wanted to meet Trooper and it was Sheppard who told her about another woman from Europe who wanted to do the same. It didn’t take Mattsson long to figure out that person was Wishart.
Soon the two were planning the trip. It took a few months, but they finally met in London at the end of September and flew to St. John’s on Oct. 1.
They spent the better part of a week on the east coast, connecting with other cat-lover friends and doing some sightseeing. Some of those friends brought them to Gander at the end of the week where Sheppard met them and brought them to the west coast on Sunday.
While in Deer Lake Sunday night they got to meet another special cat. Gwen dropped by with Sona, a cat rescued by SCAPA after she was shot in both eyes earlier this summer. She and Sona flew to Prince Edward Island on Monday where Sona will undergo treatment at the Atlantic Veterinary College.
After they get to meet Trooper, the two women will spend about a week on the west coast before heading back to St. John’s on Oct. 15 and then home on Oct. 17.