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.