Tibetan Book of the Dead Cats – Mooshu

A great kitty, our orange tabby Mooshu, passed away peacefully on November 22, at home, after battling lymphoma and hind-leg paralysis for six months. It’s been too hard to write about ’til now. But he deserves it.

Mooshu was tough.

Our vet once said he’d met only one tougher—a rescue cat from Mogadishu(!) Mooshie was rescued from a housing project in the Bronx, via City Critters, about eleven years ago. And it’s not Mooshu’s last illness that sticks in my mind, it’s his toughness. And sweetness. Because although Mooshu never had much time for me, he was fiercely attached to my husband, Mark, and Mark loved him back.
In 1998, when we went to adopt a cat at Metro Pets on Ninth Ave. and 42nd St., Mark immediately was drawn to a biggish orange tabby in a cage. We didn’t even pick him up or cuddle—Mark looked in his eyes and said, “That’s the one.” City Critters delivered “Moses,” as he was then named, to our vet on the East Side; I picked him up after work and introduced him to our goofy tuxedo boy, Shinsan (who passed away last year).
We renamed the tabby Mooshu, partly in memory of our old Chinatown delivery guy who used to see our cat Goat and say with gusto, “BIG cat!”
Mooshu accepted his name, but not much else. He never sat on my lap. We couldn’t even pick him up for the first three years. He padded silently around the apt., occasionally deigning to consort with the incredibly clumsy and enthusiastic Shinsan. Mooshu preferred high perches, looking down regally at us smaller folk.
He delighted in jumping from cabinet to cabinet in the kitchen, finally reaching a totally isolated aerie atop the spice cabinet. We never saw him leap, just him sitting there, self-satisfied.

But one day I saw him sit on Mark’s stomach, contentedly kneading Mark’s chest.
My jaw dropped.
He liked to sit near Shinsan, the two of them like a set of parentheses.


Mooshu took to curling up in a round cat pillow, tucked into Mark’s side, as they watched SportsCenter from the bed or the couch.

No room for me. The looks that cat used to give me if I tried to squeeze in! He would sit on the edge of the bath, swatting the bubbles, for Mark. His tail would trail into the bathwater, and he could not care less.


He was with his favorite human, and that’s all that mattered.

Mooshu softened toward me during his last days, when I served him like a slave. I bound up his paralyzed legs. I groomed him. I cured his bedsore. I washed him in the tub and then blowdried him. He began to enjoy my head scratching.

He probably let me pet him more in the last three months than in the previous ten years. And “let me” is the right term.

Mooshie lived his life on his terms, and nobody else’s.

And he passed away on his terms too, on his own, when he wanted. No vet. We took good care of him, and he of us. It was the end of an era when he passed. Maybe he and Shinsan are a pair of cat parentheses somewhere, if only in our memory. Good-bye, Mooshu, and thank you.



9 thoughts on “Tibetan Book of the Dead Cats – Mooshu

  1. Pingback: Tibetan Book of the Dead Cats - Mooshu « palimpsest nyc | catveranda.com

  2. Awwwww. So sorry to hear about your kitty guys. 😦 They are always such a wonderful source of comfort and joy and it’s so hard when they have to go. I’ll be thinking about you all. Meanwhile, have a wonderful holiday. I miss both of you.


  3. Mooshie was such a tough little monkey and fought a good fight all the way to the end.

    The bathtub shot is the most adorable thing I have ever seen. I’m so glad you captured that moment. It will warm your heart in years to come.

  4. So sorry for your loss, Ellen, and thank you so much for the wonderful stories about Mooshu. I love the pictures of Mooshie and Mark watching SportsCenter–so emblematic of the cat-human relationship. And thanks especially for the hilarious “BIG cat” story, for obvious reasons.

  5. Sorry Ellen. I know how hard it can be.
    Baby (my cat) picked me out in a litter of people too. I lost her some years ago but reading this and see the photos of Mark and Mooshie brought it all back.

    Be well

  6. I’m so very sorry. Lost one of my little guys a few years ago, and I still feel it. Mooshie looked like a peach. I’m sad that you guys will be missing his company.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s