Atari the Wonder Cat

Cat in a Box

Atari, my cat, passed away this afternoon shortly before 4pm. He was young, only 7. Sherri and I made the hard decision to euthanize him two days ago, after a few agonizing weeks of consideration.

For the last four years, Atari had chronic lower urinary tract issues, which continued to worsen over time and never really stabilized. Treating these issues involved many trips to the vet, invasive procedures, a major surgery, and a near constant regimen of anti-anxiety and pain medication, steroids and antibiotics. Recently Atari began to show signs of diabetes. In addition, he’d grown increasingly fearful of being treated at the vet and at home, to the point of displaying significant aggression. During the last couple of weeks I had to face the difficult truth that no amount of care was going to make Atari well and that it was time to let go, time to let him be at ease. I spoke with the vet at length on Wednesday and she agreed that I was making a good decision.

Atari was a great cat, despite all of his medical issues. He gave the most wonderful cat kisses. He’d nuzzle your face repeatedly and even on command. When you pet him he purred and drooled profusely. One of his favorite toys were those plastic jelly bracelets. He loved to play catch with them and chase after the ones that rolled by him. Sometimes he’d fetch one and bring it to you, especially if you hadn’t been paying attention to him. He talked all the time. When he wanted something or just to greet you. He spoke back if you spoke to him. He had a couple of nicknames: Atari the Wonder Cat, Mr. Meowgi, Baron von Wineypuss (or simply, the Baron), Mr. Stripey.

Atari came to me in 2003 when he was just about a year old. He was my companion through some very difficult occasions, including a divorce and the death of my grandmother. Together we moved 11 times, across 5 counties and two states. I am ever grateful for the time we spent together. I’m grateful that I was able to be with him until the very end. To pet him and lay down with him just one last time, give him those final kisses and watch him slip peacefully away.

There’s a verse from the Diamond Sutra that I’ve been reading to myself all day:

A star at dawn,
a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
So is this fleeting world.

With this I am reminded that as life is impermanent, so too is my grief. Even in my grief I feel a great sense of relief and peace that Atari will no longer suffer.

Thanks to everyone who has messaged and called me with condolences, best wishes and kind words. I’ve felt the healing energy of your thoughts all evening.

Also many thanks to North Portland Veterinary Hospital, who’s entire staff treated us with great compassion.


  1. John DeRosa says:

    I heard of your loss via Twitter. I’m very sorry. You write of him with much love, and I’m sure he knew how much you loved him. We let these little fellas into our lives, and they give us so much, and as for so little back in return.

    I wish you peace.

  2. Lynne McManus says:

    Read your story with tears in my eyes. I too had a beloved pet(a darling part persian cat, Misty)who passed at a young age due to an illness. It’s heartbreaking, I know. I come from a long line of animal lovers(my brother’s a vet tech in SE Portland). It’s always heartbreaking to lose a pet, but I can’t live without the love and companionship they provide. So, I always have cats and dogs and ? Atari was lucky to have a wonderful friend like you! I hope that time eases the hurt. He is now at peace. Thinking of you…PEACE!

  3. K.G. Miller says:

    I must have missed your tweet about this. Really sad to learn of his passing – but glad he’s finally at peace. Remembering how we came up with his name…and his silly dog like fetching of those bracelets…and all those days working at home with him sleeping atop your computer monitor. R.I.P Atari – here’s hoping they have big warm tube-based display devices in cat heaven.