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Goodbye, Mozart

Mozart, in his last days.

A little after two o’clock today, my sweet, loving cat of thirteen years drifted into a deep sleep in my arms. The last thing he did before succumbing to the chemical slumber was to tuck his head into the crook of my arm. I sat there, on the couch in the quiet room reserved for this purpose, with tears streaming down my face. Jack was beside me, the both of us stroking Mozart’s head and thanking him for giving us so much love and companionship.

Thank you for being such a good kitty. I’m so sorry.

Just over thirteen years ago I walked into the Alexandria Animal Shelter in Virginia thinking I might want to walk out of there with a kitten. I wasn’t completely sure that I was ready, but then I picked up this tiny black ball of fur and held it in the crook of my neck. This little kitten started purring as if his life depended on it, nuzzling my cheek and my ear, and I knew I had to take him home.

I’d come home from work and he would jump up on my shoulders and meow for ten minutes, as if to tell me about his day and where was I this whole time? He would burrow himself under the covers and try to discover Jack’s toes in the middle of the night. He enjoyed sleeping on my pillow, on top of my head if I would let him.

When I started getting migraines, he would jump up on the bed carefully, and curl himself next to me, offering me the slow and steady comfort of his purr.

When I brought home another cat, he was welcoming and became his brother. When Gustav disappeared, Mozart was lost for a while.

When I brought home a small, screaming human, he appointed himself watch-kitty. Wherever we were, he would be within ten feet, making sure we were all okay.

When I brought him home from the vet several years ago, along with a vial of insulin and the commitment to administer it twice a day for the rest of his life, he took it in stride.

He was very tolerant. I used to gently pull his tail and roll him over and rub his belly. I would do the things I would imagine small children would try, because I knew he would meet mine someday. He allowed my babies to crawl all over him, making no attempt at escape. He would sit on the stairs, watching over them, keeping track of them. He loved curling up at the end of Ethan’s bed during bedtime, and would often stay in there long after the light was turned off.

And then he started to get sicker. Chronic urinary tract infections were added to the diabetes, and all of the sudden I was finding myself becoming an expert on cleaning up cat urine and sometimes, worse. Irritable bowel disease brought about occasionally alarming amounts of blood in the litter box. Treating the IBD would intensify the diabetes and UTIs. Not treating the IBD would guarantee more cramping and pain and blood and going where he shouldn’t go.

The vet — the wonderful, thoughtful, and insightful vet — discussed all the options, and it was ultimately decided that Mozart would be given a peaceful end of life, instead of putting him through tests and surgeries and procedures and medication with no guarantee of a positive outcome. What made the decision so wrenching and guilt-ridden is that on the outside, Mozart looked just fine. He seemed to be just fine. But I knew he wasn’t. I knew it when I would come downstairs in the morning and had to immediately sequester my little ones to clean up a mess. I knew it when he would go for most of the day some days without coming out from under my bed. I knew all this, but it didn’t make it any easier.

And so we were led to today, when my ever-faithful watch-kitty fell asleep in my arms, and then very peacefully died. We left with an impression of his paw, a clipping of his fur, and very red eyes.

It’s going to take me a while to get through this one.


  1. Julie says:

    Hugs, Abi.

  2. Jane C says:

    What a terrible loss! He was the best. You both chose well.

  3. Grandma says:

    Having had to go through a similar experience, I know what a loss it is. Difficult, but necessary for the animal’s sake. Your “story of Mozart’s life” is a beautiful tribute for your amazing companion and I hope that writing it helped the healing process to begin. Love to all of you.

  4. Pobba says:

    He was a fortunate cat.

  5. Julie H. says:

    Oh, Abi. What a loving tribute. I can’t imagine how sad you are. I will hold my 13 year old kitty extra close today.