Masetto 2000-2014
More pictures of Masetto, Emily, and Charlotte here.

Masetto's unforgettable stay with us ended in the early hours of Monday, March 10, when he breathed his last. It was a good death. Masetto was the most wonderful feline companion anyone could ever imagine. He came to us in the fall of 2000. He had lived with a woman who had a number of cats in a basement apartment that flooded. Felines, Inc. offered to take over the cats’ care, but she would only agree on the understanding that she could take them back again when she got her situation straightened out. So we adopted him knowing there was some slim chance we might have to give him up. But we never really worried. His shelter name was Zen-Lu and we renamed him. George suggested that we call him Masetto as a memorial to his predecessor, the lovely Musetta, who was with us from 1980 to 1998--Puccini's popular coquette giving way to Mozart's charming if determined peasant. We were told at the time of adoption that Masetto was about 8 years old, though our vet thought he was no more than 5. We believe he was somewhere around 18 when he died, a great old age for a cat.

We have more pictures and some comments below.

Dictionaries are good for sleeping on. Masetto always knew where the focus was, if not the action (left 2004; right 2012).

In his early years, Masetto was very lively and had a remarkable love of retrieving. You could toss a soft object across the room, and he would chase after it and trot right back with it so that you could throw it again and again. Here he is, felt mouse in mouth, ready for another fling. He could never get enough of this. He also loved chasing a pellet of dried cat food across the hardwood floor. I'd send it skating and he's tear after it, skidding around, back legs swinging to front, when he braked. Then he'd hunker down and munch his captured prey. He taught me to put a water bowl in the bathtub so, as one amused and wild-life minded catsitter put it, he could go down to the river to drink after he ate.

Like any good cat, Masetto found ways to dominate his home. All I had to do was give him what he liked. For example, he loved marking and rubbing his chin against things, and we found a soft rubber brush that was just the thing for this. For years and years I started every day with the Wall Street Journal in one hand, this brush in another, and Masetto on my lap. Usually I ended up putting the paper down so he could get in all the rubbing he needed. In truth, I often thought he was doing a favor for me, not the other way around. There would always be the paper, I knew, but there would not always be the cat.

Over the years Masetto slowed down. Last summer we noticed that he seldom went down the stairs, staying exclusively in Allen’s upstairs apartment. Then he became a fixture on the sofa (see below), seldom leaving it except to eat and use his box. He aged and grew slower and weaker, but he never lost his love of people and his love of being brushed and petted and talked to. Nor did he lose any of his remarkable and dignified beauty, as seen in these pictures.

Here is what Allen wrote to our vet, describing his last weeks and his final day.

“George and I wanted you to know that Masetto died last night. We knew he was near the end. His decline continued slow but steady after our last visit with you on Nov. 9. His appetite never flagged, even yesterday, but he spent most of his time sleeping on the sofa. Yesterday for the first time in months he began following me from room to room and settling on the floor near where I was, although he was very listless. By evening we were sure he was close to the end. I made a little bed for him on the floor and slept on the sofa next to him. About 2 a.m. he woke me up with a little cry. I moved him next to me on the couch and stroked him a bit. Suddenly he stiffened as if he were taking a big stretch and gave a little cry again, and then he relaxed and expelled his last breath.

We were happy that we did not have to bring him in and we are thankful that he could end his days where he spent so many of them, on his favorite blanket curled up next to me. Thank you for your years of good care for him. He was a lovely little creature and he leaves a very big hole!”

The ground after this forbidding winter is frozen too hard for us to prepare a grave in the back yard, so Masetto is being cremated, and we will decide later about the disposition of his ashes. We loved him more than we can possibly say, and we are grateful to Felines Inc. for rescuing him from his difficult situation and giving us the privilege of his presence for 14 wonderful years. So many lives (feline, canine, and human) are made better by the work that the Felines shelter does. All three of our kitties came from Felines--Charlotte (d. 2012), Masetto, and Emily.
When his time came, Masetto was sleeping just where he is in this picture
(below, from November 2013), and Allen was sitting next to him, where the pillow is.

So we go from 3 kitties to 2 to 1. A few more pictures of Masetto, Emily, and Charlotte are here.