Thursday, September 07, 2006

Not A Good Day In The Neighborhood.

Our cat Mookie died yesterday.

She had probably died a couple of days before, but we just found her body yesterday. She disappeared on Monday night and we'd spent the past couple of days calling hospitals, putting up flyers and visiting the local animal shelter. When she hadn't come home by Wednesday morning, we decided to go door-to-door, and that's when, on our very first stop, an elderly neighbor stunned us by saying that her housekeeper had found a dead cat in their yard that very morning.

I knew immediately it was Mookie they had found. And when our neighbor pointed to the trash can waiting in front of her house, the one that hadn't been picked up that morning because the Labor Day holiday had caused a shift in our trash pickup schedule, I wanted to be doing anything, anything but walking with Kira and Kiyomi towards that big, black receptacle to confirm what I already knew to be true.

Mookie found us sixteen years ago. I was working in my studio downtown when one of my employees, who had just left for the night, came back in carrying a lump of black and white fur cupped in her hands that she had found behind the tire of a truck parked on the street. She was tiny, probably only a day old, and hadn't even opened her eyes yet. I took her to the vet the next day, who told me that the chances were slim of a kitten this young surviving more than a few days without her mother. I took her home and fed her with an eyedropper and named her Mookie, after Spike Lee's character in Do The Right Thing. She thanked me for saving her life by becoming the orneriest, most temperamental, unpredictable cat in feline history.

She was the cutest little thing, though. So tiny she could sleep in a shoe box and her litter box was a pie pan. (Those that know me are wracking their brains right now, trying to remember, "Did she ever bake me a pie, or maybe bring over a quiche during 1990? And, oh gawd - was that kitty litter at the bottom of that apple crisp?") Rigel and I had just moved in together, so of course he thought it was a grand plot of mine to find out if he was good father material, not believing the whole "I found her in the street!" story for even a minute. She rewarded him for his bad faith by giving him a big, deep scratch right above his eye three years later on the night before our wedding.

Mookie was an equal-opportunity offender, scratching everyone from family members to the kind passerby who only wanted to pet the nice kitty. I remember one friend of mine, a bona fide Cat Person and Friend of All Animals, telling me that she 'understood Mookie' and would be the one to escape the wrath of our psycho-cat's claws. On her way out, as I applied a large bandage to the deep, bloody flesh wound on her arm, she said to me, "That cat? Is fuckin' crazy."

I was always careful to keep her far away from the girls when they were small, but she seemed to mellow with age, and in the past few years seemed to revel in the attention they showered on her. But you always have to wonder what kind of beast you have on your hands when you overhear them saying to others, in an incredulos tone, "And the other day? She actually let me pet her!!"

We're all sad, as you can imagine. This is hitting them much harder than the passing of Little Guppy. Kira has been bursting into tears spontaneously over the past few days, and Kiyomi tries to hold out as long as possible by saying, "I am NOT GOING TO CRY" but then melts into a sobbing ball in my lap. We're going to miss her brushing up against our legs when we're sitting on the patio, and scratching on the back door when she wants to be fed or let in. It'll be sad not to see her run out to meet us when we come home, and then dart around our feet, causing at least one of us to trip over her and curse. Most of all, we'll just miss her being here, as she had been for the past sixteen years, glaring at us when she tired of us stroking her back and taking an angry swipe at us when we didn't get the message and stop already.

Kiyomi said to me last night, "Mookie is in Catnip Heaven now" and Kira drew this picture of her:

It's too bad you died

I'm glad we had you as a pet, though!


You rock, Mookie!


Hope you're doing good!









Goodbye, Mookie. We love you. You rock.

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71 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear about Mookie. We lost our cat two years ago, and still miss her. She was an ornery thing, too.

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  2. That's so sad! Sorry to hear about Mookie. The picture is beautiful though. That's why the only pet we'll ever have is "sea monkeys".

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  3. Aw, I'm so sorry for your loss. It was a beautifully told story, though, and a wonderful tribute.

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  4. Even the craziest of cats can be a part of the family and be an important part of our kids' lives. (that's what I tell myself at least). Sorry to hear about Mookie - what a lovely tribute!

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  5. Losing a pet is always hard. I am sorry. My husband has a special love for crazy, dangerous cats that bite him. It sounds like yours would have been a very big hit.

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  6. Dang. I'm so sorry. It's never easy losing a family member. I remember the first cat that died when I was about 7 years old. It broke my HEART. And he wasn't the sweetest thing. He would literally CHASE us around the house. Either because we'd bothered him while he was sleeping, or because he wanted something we had.

    But he was part of our family. And I genuinely missed him. I am so happy that you are letting your kids express their grief.

    I love the picture of Mookie. It's frame worthy.

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  7. Oh noooo, I'm sorry. Catnip Heaven does looks lovely.

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  8. Mookie rocked for 16 years! That's a pretty good life span even for the most ornary of cats. I'm sure if she's in "Catnip Heaven" she's scratching the hell out of everyone there!
    I'm sorry you and your girls lost your friend.

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  9. sniff, sniff...definitely the worst part of having a pet. However, when all is said and done it is so worth it.

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  10. I'm sorry for your loss. Mookie looks so much like my own Daisy-cat. I love the drawing. Very sweet.

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  11. I can't believe it. Mookie's been in the family for as long as I can remember, and even though I was always afraid to get too close to her (physically, not emotionally), I really can't imagine not having her around anymore. I kinda thought she'd outlive us all and then stage some kind of world takeover. She definitely had the spunk for it, you know? I think that's what I liked -- and feared -- most about her.

    I'm sorry to hear the sad news. Her unfailing presence at your house was a source of infinite comfort to me growing up, and I think all of us in the family had a kind of special affection for her. I know I did.

    Give the girls a hug for me.

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  12. what an awful way to find out - how sad.

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  13. Oh, poor Mookie! What an awful way to find out your cat has died.

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  14. I am very sorry for your loss.

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  15. oh, poor Mookie! (I loved that movie, still have it on VHS, yes, ancient old VHS. don't laugh)
    The post would not have been complete with out the picture Kira drew.
    Sorry for the loss.

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  16. It sounds like your kitty lead a long, fulfilling life with a great family. You and that eyedropper bought her 16 years she wouldn't have otherwise had, and despite her anti-social nature I'm sure some part of her appreciated it. I'm so sorry you had to go through all the pain of not knowing what had happened to her for days. One of my family's own cats, whom my mother had raised from a scrawny malnourished kitten just like you did with Mookie, and who had grown very old in cat years, ran off one day when I was a teenager and never came back, and we could only assume she had died, but we never did find out what had happened to her. I am glad you at least got some closure, but it's a terrible way to find out.

    That's a beautiful picture from Kira.

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  17. So sorry to hear about Mookie. But I laughed throughout your post, which was a wonderful tribute

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  18. Bye Mookie!

    She was a much-loved cat.

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  19. I have heard so often that animals, knowing they're going to die, will go off by themselves.

    I have a 15-year-old dog lying next to me on the couch that I've had since I was single, skinny and free. She is my last tie to that time and when she goes there'll be no replacing her, so I know how you feel.

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  20. Sorry for the loss of your dear Mookie. Maybe the girls would like to hear this story. It made my kids feel better knowing that our pets went to a special place.

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals that had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

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  21. Mookie does rock. There's something about ornery cats that's always appealed to me. We had one when I was small that would lay in wait for my mum to hang up the clothes on the outside line. Then when her arms were airborne with heavy, wet sheets, Jemima would leap onto her legs, grabbing hold with all four of her paws, and try and ribbon Mum's flesh. Cute.

    And yes, I'm doing a few posts from my Mum's house. I'm back to L.A. on Monday. If ever you want to meet for coffee, just let me know. It would be fun!

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  22. I am sorry to hear of your loss. Mookie was a beautiful cat and your daughter's picture is a good memorial to Mookie.

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  23. Incredibly beautifully written.

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  24. So sorry to hear about Mookie. He was a pretty cat.

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  25. I had to put my 14 year old kitty "Stinky" down last year. He wasn't ornery. He was annoying. He had a loud baby crying yowl. Wanted to go out, wanted to come in, wanted to go, ad infinitum. He fought with the neighborhood cats. Freaked the neighbors out with his crazy yowling.
    Still, both my kids have a picture with him on their dressers. My oldest, a year and 3 months later, still writes poems about him. Hubby and I can still hear phantom yowls.
    We all still miss him.
    It's hard.

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  26. It's odd when you think about it how strongly we feel towards these animals that we bring into our homes. But I totally get it. So sorry for your family's loss.

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  27. Aww ... Bye bye mookie :(

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  28. I'm sorry about Mookie.

    We lost our 16 year old Barney a couple of years ago.

    We're still not over it. :(

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  29. this death and dying thing animals do is the reason why i don't own one. well, another reason is i can't breathe around them.

    in other words, i'm so sorry about the loss of your family member.

    wonderful picture by the way. i love the "you rock, mookie!"

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  30. Moooooookie. I am so sorry to hear the news. Sounds like she was an old timer like our Pearl who we just had to put to sleep a few months ago.Waaah. Your post made me sad for your family and made me think of and miss our Pearl.
    Sigh.

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  31. So sorry to hear this! It is never easy to love a beloved pet, especially for children. I know Mookie can't be replaced, but will you be getting another cat?

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  32. I have a habit of letting animals worm their way into my heart and I'm so sad for you.

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  33. Awwww Shit...Nothing worse...Mookie Sounds like quite the personality....but your kids felt the love....i thought the pictcure, and the words beautiful.

    Are there plans for a kitten?

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  34. It's always sad when a pet dies. Take care.

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  35. I like the crotchety ones like Mookie. Even when they scratch me. I find them to be intriguing cat souls. Mookie is doing good, and mocking you right now.

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  36. Marsha -- Sorry to hear about Mookie. I remember feeding her a few times and tried to stay out of the way of her claws! Enjoyed your bit on Japan -- I was there back in November. We should catch up soon. --Katherine

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  37. I'm so sorry about your losing Mookie. Pets are such important members of our families. We have an extremely neurotic dog we adopted nine years ago and she has FINALLY mellowed out around the girls. Most of the time she can be a bitch. But we all love her so. Rest in peace Mookie. Catnip heaven...I like that.

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  38. Oh, poor Mookie. We had a Mookie kittie too. She died too. Very sad. I am sorry. What a funny little story though. That cracks me up that the girls were amazed that she'd let them pet her from time to time. :) Do you think you'll adopt a new kitty???

    Sorry for your loss!

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  39. I am sorry to hear about Mookie. It's never easy to lose a pet -- I hope the girls are adjusting OK (that picture that Kira drew brought tears to my eyes!)

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  40. I'm so sorry. I am totally dreading this, as my cat is 17. Her beginning and personality were much the same as your Mookie. Your daughter's picture is precious.

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  41. We're so sorry to hear about Mookie..The pictures that Kira drew was very dear. Michelle

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  42. That was so touching, or else I am incredibly hormonal. My "runt" kitten (Muffin) also lived to 16, I will never forget her either.

    Here's to Mookie and Muffin whooping it up in catnip heaven together!

    Carrie

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  43. So, so, sorry about poor little Mookie.

    After reading your post, it looks like Kira did an excellent job of capturing the spirit of Mookie in her picture. And what a beautiful touch with the flowers, too!

    Again, so sorry.

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  44. :(

    I am so sorry for the loss of Mookie.

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  45. I'm really sorry. Losing a pet is really hard.

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  46. Up until now, my cats have been like my kids. I'm so sorry you lost yours.

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  47. Rest in peace, Mookie. And my heartfelt condolences to the whole family, and especially to Kira and Kyomi.

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  48. Poor Mookie. I hope catnip heaven is treating her well.

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  49. I'm sorry...thank you for the laugh at having to bandage up your friend before she left and her saying that Mookie was "fuckin' crazy", it gave me a respite from feeling your family's sadness...
    Again, I'm sorry...

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  50. so very sorry for your family's loss. at least you have at least one good photo and a great tribute to her, thanks to kira. as much as losing a pet never gets any easier, live knowing how much better you made that ornery fluffball's life :)
    take care,
    -kb

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  51. Your NorCal Sistah9/11/2006 8:13 PM

    I have many a scar to remember Mookie by and I will truly miss her welcoming meow when arriving at your house. I always appreciated the times that she let me pet her and learned to keep a watchful eye out on her tail - knowing that if it got twitchy that it was time to get out of her way. Thanks for sharing your memories of her arrival into your life -- I only knew a small portion of this story and am glad that you found her and gave her a good home. Bye Mookie, you crazy cat! -- you will be missed.

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  52. Awe- sorry about Mookie!

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  53. Thanks for sharing Mookie with us, and sorry for your loss.

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  54. I am so sorry for your loss. It's never easy to lose a pet; they truly are a member of the family in every way. That was a beautiful story and I'm sure Mookie will never be forgotten.

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  55. Sure Mookie was lethal with her swipes, but characters are always remembered. How many good times and laughs she must've brought. Anyone who is TOO nice is much too boring - like say where you could safely close both eyes at all times or pet them without the concern of your flesh staying attached to your bones. I am so so sorry for your loss. I am glad although, that you found your friend. I teared up from your story and it breaks my heart for you and your family.

    NorCal Sistah - to heck with the tail ... do you remember that dish that had a little extra grit to it? The one that kept on mini-crunching in your teeth? Well I didn't want to be the one that told you ...

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  56. Awwww I'm so sorry =o(
    Mookie (I love that name) looks just like my cat, Monster. Just about the same age too. Mine also just recently scratched the hell out of my daughter. Gee they sound like long lost twins!
    Glad the girls are takin it well.

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  57. The cats that find you are always the ones that stay the longest... a kitten (that looks a lot like Mookie, from that picture) wandered into my dad's auto shop in NJ almost 2 decades ago, and he brought her home without consulting my mom. She charmed us all, and nineteen years later, she is the last one living at home with my mom, after all my sibligs and I have grown up and moved out.

    I now have my own cat... and he's not exactly nice. I am thinking of getting a sign that says "Pet at your own risk" or "Fluffy Cat is Not Friendly -- Beware" or something of the sort.

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  58. Am thinking about you. I hate it that pets die.

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  59. Awwww! May Mookie rest in peace, and may you and your family remember the good times with her.
    We had a black and white cat when I was a kid- and he was totally psycho. He lived to the ripe old age of 15 and we still talk about him. Since then, we've all gotten other pets, but he was special. And so was Mookie.

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  60. I am so sorry for your loss. Nothing can replace a Mookie, and she was lucky to have you all for a family.

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  61. So sorry for your loss. I deliberately adopted elderly cats from the rescue centre because people always overlook them in favour of kittens, and I know the hardest part of this is that they're going to die on me sooner. I can't bring myself to think about it.

    I'm glad for you that after all those years, Mookie spared you the trip to the vet's to be put to sleep. I've never had to do that for an animal and I dread it.

    Missing old pets turns into smiling at happy memories of them, eventually. I hope that part comes quickly for you all.

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  62. i do not like to tear up while looking at my computer screen.

    but i just did.

    :(

    sorry for your loss.

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  63. Oh I'm so sorry. What a good long life she had, and how wonderful that you rescued her. I remember a cat named Inky who was adopted by childhood friends of mine - same behavior. Totally unpredictable, but utterly irresistible too.

    Goodbye Mookie. My condolences to you, Rigel, and the girls.

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  64. I'm so very sorry! We lost our kitty Mojo, the day we brought our twin girls home from the hospital. It's been a year and a half ago now, and we miss him every day. I hope you have lots of great Mookie memories to heal your heart! :-)

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  65. Oh I'm so sorry. As a fellow insane feline owner who's now--wow, 15.5--I totally understand. I hope Mookie is up in kitty heaven, surrounded by acres of scratching posts.

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  66. it is so hard to lose a pet.

    I'm sorry for your loss of Mookie.

    Mookie rocks.

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  67. I'm so sorry to hear about your beautiful little cat. As corny as it sounds, I do believe our pets wait for us up in heaven, and I am sure you will see her again one day. And I'm sure she knew what a loved cat she was! Hope your girls are doing a little better. It's heartbreaking, isn't it?

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