In Memory of Ozy: The King Has Left The Building

Yesterday morning was the end of an era. It was the end of the benevolent reign of the King of Cats in our house.

The day dawned sunny and warm as Zak sought out Ozy and put him into the dreaded cat carrier.

It was a measure of how tired, old and sick the King was that he didn’t complain, struggle, nor attempt escape. He despised confinement, and every time Zak and I took one of our “across the countryside” moves–from Ohio to Rhode Island, from Rhode Island to Maryland, and from Maryland, finally back to Ohio–we had to tranquilize Ozy and crate him with his best pal Tristain, the ever-flighty Siamese, so as to avoid the His Big Grey Highness ripping out his teeth or claws as he tried to dismantle his carrier from the inside.

But, this one time, he didn’t struggle, or fuss. I think he probably knew it was time.

It is hard to conceive of our household without Ozymandias, King of Cats. He came into our lives by showing up on my doorstep as a scrawny, underfed street kitten in Huntington, West Virginia. Zak had just said that he wanted a grey cat, for they were superior to all other cats two days before, so I called him and said, “Your cat is here on my porch. Come get him.”

So, he did. He put the then nameless kitten in an unused ferret cage to transport him and was horrified at the crazed attempts the little thing waged to gain his freedom.

Ozy then got sick and Zak feared losing him, as he had his other beloved grey kitten, Mojo, to some dread disease like feline leukemia.

So, it was then that he bestowed upon the kitten a mighty name, a strong name, a name fit for a great king, which he hoped the little scrapper would grow up to be.


It turned out that the little critter was just constipated. After a mighty stench-filled series of rocks was released from his gut, he was fine, and went on to grow into a lanky, insane adolescent cat whose destructive potential was limitless.

He always had the propensity to show his displeasure by urinating on something–one time right after we flea-dipped him when he was a half-grown cat, he bounced off every bathroom wall (we locked him in there for the procedure), dashed out the newly opened door, and before Zak could close off the bedroom, he dashed in there, leaped on the bed, then squatted and soaked Zak’s pillow, while staring balefully at him.

Luckily we laughed, although there were times when we would threaten to put him back out on the street for his antics.

We never did throw him out, at least not permanently–we loved him too much.

And he finally grew to be a large cat in his maturity–twelve pounds, all of it lean, sinuous muscle. He was a very manly cat, although he was silly when he was younger, and could never hold his ears erect and centered–one was always cocked off-kilter, giving him a comical expression. He also was endowed with a low criminal forehead and somewhat beady eyes, which when he was younger made him look untrustworthy, but as he aged, it only gave his face character.

After about five years of life and many adventures, he finally attained some measure of gravitas, and was able to look calm, collected and dignified. (Except when the ferrets were loose–he never lost his absolute terror of those critters, and would flee instantly upon their approach.) He became a tremendous mouser, and ruled all the other cats of our household with an iron paw–well, not really. He was the King, however, and while he seldom had to cuff any of his subjects, he still would throw down and wrestle one or another of them to floor if they became too uppity.

Morganna cannot remember a time without Ozy, but sadly, Kat will never remember him at all. (Nor will she know Liriel or Nan, or dogs, nor any of the other wonderful cats who went before she arrived on the scene.)

Ozy slowed down over the years, of course, but all the other cats, even the ones younger and stronger, respected him, and bowed to his superior feline nature. Our friends imagined that he spoke with either Elvis Presley’s or Johnny Cash’s voice, and elaborate monologues were devised on his behalf. Many songs were sung in his honor and many fond names were given to him over the years, as he only grew in stateliness and stature.

But, over the past few years, he had begun to shrink and wither before our eyes. Old age was finally taking its toll, and he began to slow down, his eyes dimming with cataracts, his once silvery-sheened fur dulling and thinning. His purr still rumbled like thunder and rain, however, and whenever any of us cried, whether it was Morganna, myself, Zak or Kat, he would come running, and butt his head against us, purring his mighty purr in consolation.

In recent weeks that purr had quieted to a pale whisper of its former glory.

And now, it is gone forever.

It is hard to cry now, knowing that the rumble purr won’t be there to sooth my tears.

But then, I look at this picture of the King and Kat, from just a few months ago, and I cannot help but smile. He isn’t here in body, but his spirit remains in my memory, just as his fur is still sticking to the back of the loveseat that he claimed as his throne. He’ll always be the King to me, the greatest cat who was with Zak and I through the best of times and the worst of times, and brought us much joy and laughter over the years.

And so, in memory of our beloved King of Cats, I paraphrase Shelly:

Hail Ozymandias, king of cats: Look upon his works, ye Mighty, and despair!


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  1. Good gods Barbara, I just started to cry like a baby. My love and sympathy to you and all the family, two legged and four. What a wonderful tribute!

    Comment by Amy — May 11, 2008 #

  2. So sorry for your loss. It’s so very hard to have a beloved go away.

    Comment by Scott — May 11, 2008 #

  3. what loving tribute!!

    May the King be forever happy in kitty-heaven!

    Comment by jaden — May 11, 2008 #

  4. I cry every time I read about someone’s beloved cat dying. My sympathy–and purrs from our furballs–to your family, human or otherwise.

    Comment by Lucy — May 11, 2008 #

  5. Oh, I am so very sorry for your loss. It hurts so much.


    Comment by Cindy — May 11, 2008 #

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss. You’ve reminded me of some great cats I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in the past.

    It sounds like Ozy led a full and happy life and will be fondly remembered.

    Comment by Neohippie — May 11, 2008 #

  7. That is a touching memorial to a magnificent feline. (Grey cats are the best after all)It is so sad that this time must come.

    Comment by Adrianne — May 11, 2008 #

  8. My little mommy kitty is getting old and I will be sad when she goes. I’m sure she’ll meet a cool friend Ozy in kitty afterlife.

    Comment by vegoftheweek — May 11, 2008 #

  9. Good memories.

    Comment by wwjudith — May 11, 2008 #

  10. Vale Ozy…

    Comment by fernb — May 11, 2008 #

  11. A wonderful tribute to your very own Ozy..beautiful and touching.

    Comment by Nancy — May 11, 2008 #

  12. I’m so sorry, you must miss him terribly. But it sounds like he had a good life with you. And he is just a beautiful and regal cat.

    Comment by Diane — May 11, 2008 #

  13. What a wonderful tribute to a dear family member. It brought tears to me eyes. I know I will be going through similar emotions in the near future as our beloved 15yo canine companion shows her age a bit more every day.

    Comment by De in D.C. — May 12, 2008 #

  14. I guess we have that coming sometime soon with our cat Tinkerbell, who is approaching 20 years old now. I’ve known her almost all my life and I’ll really miss her.

    Comment by Trig — May 12, 2008 #

  15. I wasn’t able to read your tribute — too many painful memories. I’m sorry for all your losses, but even though it’s painful now, it was worth it to have a wonderful cat like your Ozy in your lives.

    Now the water-works start up, even without reading. Will click button, then go hug Zsa.

    PS: your daughter’s prom photo was great, she has such beautiful skin, and looks great in a red dress.

    Comment by Sherri — May 12, 2008 #

  16. I’m so sorry:(

    (And I did shed a tear or three for Ozymandias)

    Comment by Mamlambo — May 12, 2008 #

  17. Dear Barbara,
    A sweet and touching tribute. I’m sorry for your loss. It’s so hard to lose our four-legged buddies. Take care and know that you are loved.
    Sue in Kansas

    Comment by Sue — May 12, 2008 #

  18. I couldn’t read the whole thing — too many tears in my eyes. I’m so sorry, Barbara. Peace and solace to you and everybody else who loved Ozy.

    Comment by Lexica — May 12, 2008 #

  19. What a beautiful tribute to a beloved four-legged person.

    Comment by Valerie — May 12, 2008 #

  20. They become so much a part of our life… And so bloody dependable, it’s hard to let them go…
    So, there’s a new King in Rainbow Heaven!
    My sympathy to the 2- and 4- leggeds in your house!

    Comment by katie — May 12, 2008 #

  21. Oh Barbara, how you made me cry! We had a big black bruiser of a stray that moved in with us when I was 6 years old and he was called Bastet – so I seriously approve of Ozy’s name. I miss each of the three cats that shared our house when I was growing up – such different individuals and so beautiful. I remember each and every one of them – as I know you will with Ozy.

    Comment by Jeanne — May 13, 2008 #

  22. It is so hard to lose an animal who’s been a part of your family for so long — I lost my cat of sixteen years two years ago.

    You all have my sympathy.

    Comment by Ellen — May 13, 2008 #

  23. I’m so sorry to hear about your Ozy. Losing a pet is just as hard as losing a member of the family. Your post was beautiful.

    Comment by Barbara — May 13, 2008 #

  24. I had plans for Friday night, but Barbara had called me to say, “if you want to say Good-Bye to Ozy, you should stop by tonight.”

    I dropped my plans and went home.

    I was one of the many friends who gave him the voice Cash/Elvis, (first, Johnny Cash, and then after seeing Bubba Ho-Tep, Elvis.)

    Ozy had been suffering from impending renal shutdown for several months, and I think we were all surprised he lasted as long as he did.

    I think the reason behind it, is because we all knew he wasn’t going to last long, so we tried to make him comfortable, (and that meant feeding him pork. That cat LIVED for Ham…Literally..)

    At the end, he was just skin and bones, but I think Zak’s immortalized him in the way we all prefer to remember him:

    I’m going to miss the grumpy ol’ mangy bastard! Thanks, Barbara…

    Comment by Dan — May 14, 2008 #

  25. That was the most beautiful eulogy. I am so sorry about Oz. My cat is aging as well and I hope that when his time comes I have the strength you have shown so elegantly.

    Comment by Victoria — May 15, 2008 #

  26. That first picture you have of him on there is extraordinary. He looks like he’s looking back at you with a snide smile like he just got away with something or is about to get away with something. I’ve never seen such an expression-ful expression on a cat.

    Comment by Christy — May 15, 2008 #

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