Rutgers Gardens suffered a great loss today. Rutger, the beloved garden cat, crossed the Rainbow Bridge before dawn this morning. His passing was not unexpected. He had been ailing for the past few months, not surprising for a cat who was more than 20 years old.
He was born at Rutgers Gardens and lived there his entire life. The only time that he left was when a visitor mistook him for a stray cat and took him to her home. He escaped and headed back to the Gardens. A search was launched, a Facebook page created and flyers distributed all over the area. He was located and returned home much to everyone’s relief.
Rutger was more than a mascot. He had an important job at the Gardens providing rodent control both in the greenhouses and throughout the Gardens. He also supervised the volunteers when they worked in the greenhouse.
I met Rutger in April of 2006 when my Master Gardener class took a field trip to Rutgers Gardens. When I began working in the greenhouse as a volunteer, I always brought a few cat treats for him. Part of the fun of volunteering was that I never knew when or where I would meet Rutger. He patrolled the entire Gardens.
I took many photos of Rutger over the years, but my favorite was the day he decided to take a nap in a tray of catnip.
I will miss his constant presence at the Gardens. Quiet, dignified, hardworking but also friendly. He was the perfect Garden Cat.