My Cat Died Today - Herbietown

My Cat Died Today

I was sitting in the kitchen, about to start reading the newspaper. It was raining.

I heard my wife say “Oh, Mojo, do you want to come on inside?” as she walked over to the sliding glass door.

A moment later she came into the kitchen. “There’s something wrong.”

“A mouse?”

I could see in her eyes that it wasn’t a mouse. Maybe his eye was leaking puss again or maybe he had gotten into a scrape with another animal.

I found him lying on the back deck, on his side, with his eyes open. He was dead.

I stared at him for a long time, through the window. My kids, 2 boys aged 2 and 4, were both in the room, typing on the computer and watching a dinosaur show, oblivious to the dead animal on the deck right outside the door.

My sweet little Mojo, the most lovable cat in the world, was dead. He died on the back deck, right outside the door, on a cold and rainy night. Had he lay there for hours, meowing, begging to be let in?

There were no obvious marks from a fight. The most likely cause was a heart attack, or something related called a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It was probably quick and painless. But I still felt guilty.

Finally I stepped back from the door.

My wife produced an old diaper box and 2 white garbage bags from our kitchen. We quickly agreed that we didn’t want our kids to see a dead cat, and that I would move him while she distracted them. I put on some gloves – huge fireplace mitts – and went outside. I had to move quickly.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to touch him.

10 hours earlier I was snuggling with the cat in my lap, petting him while he purred, now I couldn’t even touch him. I was afraid. He wasn’t a cat anymore, he was a mess of decomposing organs, fur and claws and tissue and intestines.

I shuddered.

My wife came outside. “We should do this together,” she said. We scooped him into the bag. Then we put the bag in the box, and went back inside.

Part 1 was over. Now we had to decide how to tell the kids.

We waited more than an hour.

My wife took the lead.

“Hey guys, something very sad happened last night. Mojo died. He was a sweet little kitty kat, but he was old, and he died. It’s very sad.”

Something like that. No stupid promises about cat heaven or anything like that. Just the truth.

My 2 year old ran into her arms and started crying. Seeing his reaction made me cry, for the first time. He said “Will he come back tomorrow? Will he be another kitty kat tomorrow?”

My 4 year old was drawing on construction paper. He kept on drawing while she talked. He pretended not to hear her. He pressed the marker hard into the paper, and harder still. He was drawing an orange cat, but he was pressing so hard into the paper that it was turning into an inkblot. Then he drew another cat.

“Hey buddy, do you understand what happened?”

“I’m drawing a cat! Two cats! They’re holding hands!”

He was crying. Sort of. There were no tears. He made these wailing noises, and his face got all screwed up, like he was about to start sobbing. I tried to give him a hug. He pushed me away.

“I’m laughing!” His voice was strained. He was not laughing. It was bizarre. I tried again and he pushed me away again. “I’m laughing! I’m laughing!”

He could not face his emotions. I didn’t know what to do. I sat near him and let him be. He continued to draw, adding fish and prehistoric sea monsters to his drawing.


I wanted to bury Mojo in the backyard, but the ground is frozen and rocky and I couldn’t imagine how I’d dig down 3 feet. So I paid the vet $144 to cremate him.

Rest in peace, Mojo.

Go here for Jeff Camaro’s take.

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Comments 2

  1. Joshuaglenn wrote:

    So sorry for your & your family’s loss, Chris.

    Posted 04 Mar 2012 at
  2. Julie Hume wrote:

    Well that made me cry and I did not even know Mojo. I know how your son felt though. When people came to tell me of my father’s death I started chatting like crazy, making coffee, acting insanely normal because in doing that I did not have to hear the news or face the truth. 

    FWIW, I have a page on my own website called My Cat Died Today. It describes the death of Jerry , my Siamese. It was a dreadful, dreadful day for me and took me a long time to get over. The story seems to have struck a chord in many people as they have been adding their own stories to that page. So many of them seem to feel guilty, as I did. As you seem to with your worry about Mojo crying to be let in all night.

    In the end though, no matter what we do, our four legged friends are fated to live shorter lives and we are fated to deal with this in the best way that we can. Mojo was loved. That is what matters in the end.

    If you would like to see Jerry’s story, it is here:

    Posted 10 Jun 2012 at

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From Christopher Herbert - My Wife’s Car Accident on 11 Jun 2012 at

    […] “NO! NO! I DON’T WANT TO GO. I WANT ICE CREAM.” Jack immediately dug in his heels, but I could hear the fear in his voice. He did the same thing when our cat Mojo died. […]

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