Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Magus the Cat, 1991-2010

Magus the Cat, whose adventurous spirit cost her a toe in her first year of life and who went on to become among the most vocal felines of her generation, took her last meow on Sunday night. She was 18.
She used up the last of her lives while at home surrounded by family (not the kids!) after a brief illness that the veteranarians, despite being paid copious sums in a handful of recent visits, described as “any number of things.”
Magus took her name from a book by John Fowles but was less a sorcerer or “one of the wise men from the East” (Wikipedia) than she was, as she was affectionately known, a love hound. She craved petting and attention and her favorite position on Earth was to fall into a blissful stupor curled under the arm of a trusted friend. Until her last two days, she would instantly purr when scratched on the head, chin, behind the ears.
Like the man who raised her, Magus was verbal and liked regularity in her life. Each night before bedtime, she meowed as loudly as any passing garbage truck to beckon everyone into bed for her nightly snuggling ritual. She used her broad vocabulary of meows to express moods and also communicate anonomlies. If, for instance, she saw a spider on the wall, she meowed and meowed (meow version #19) until someone flicked the spider to the floor, whereupon she would play with it, then eat it. She was not a friend to the spider.
Her lifetime mousing stats were modest. She caught only a handful (two that I can actually remember) and took only one of them to its eternal rest. Her stats would obviously have been higher, but, contrary to reputation, I do a remarkable job cleaning up the house, which is why mice do not nest here. Magus did not have a cat fight, owing either to her loving spirit or abject terror at things bigger than her, which most living things were/are.
But she was adventurous. When she was a kitten, her owners (‘guardians’ under Boulder, Co law) came home to find her eight feet in the air, swinging from a curtain rod she’d jumped onto from a table. She was dangling by the little toe that was subsequently amputated.  For many years as her health allowed, she remained undeterred, leaping high into the air to reach for cat toys and feathers. Magus (who was smarter than your dog) played fetch; She would bring back balls or drag her toys across the house to enlist someone in more play time.
In her last years in life, Magus’s chief gift was teaching Milo how to do gentle petting and the humility that comes with being two and trying in vain to catch a cat racing through the living room. No, we haven’t figured out exactly how to tell him about her absence.
We sometimes referred to Magus as “the three-toed kitty” but mostly by her nickame “Schmago.” We completely loved and cherished her. She will be sorely missed.


7 responses

  1. Michele Richtel

    We are so sad. Just tell Milo the kitty ran away. That always works.


    December 13, 2010 at 10:19 pm

  2. Hi Matt,
    Sincere condolences.


    December 14, 2010 at 3:26 pm

  3. I’m going to miss Magus too. I’m sorry, Matt.



    January 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm

  4. Henri

    Hi Matt and Meredith,
    I am so sorry to hear of Magnus passing. I will miss seeing her in the window watching the passing traffic.


    January 7, 2011 at 6:11 pm

  5. Angie, Dave & Noëlle

    We are very sorry to learn of the passing of your beloved “Magus the Cat” from this morning’s comics.

    We lost our 18 year-old cat, “Goobie” aka “The Goobie”, “The Goobster” and “Goobie-Cat”, last June after an heroic battle with pancreatic cancer.

    None of us can talk about him without choking up and getting teary-eyed. You see, he was our “test kid” before we had kids, and he allowed us to “make room” for the baby, often being protective of her and taking care of her the way only a “Goobie” could.

    He was the only cat we had who’d come when called; Go to bed at 10PM with or without you;
    Lay for hours on the “Goobie Shelf” watching the birds and the world go by or just enjoy the laying-on-the-lap marathon (with petting of course!).

    Although we didn’t know Magus, we certainly understand the loss you feel and are very truly sorry for her passing. We hope the “meowmories” you shared with her will help fill the hole in your hearts.


    January 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm

  6. Joan Ubeda

    Our cat also took the road a few weeks ago…


    March 7, 2011 at 11:32 am

  7. Big Al

    Matt and Meredith, I had heard about the passing of Magus a while ago and immediately took action by setting up the Foundation for Three-Toed Cats. I can now inform you that the Foundation quickly collected $612,000 in donations from cat-lovers all over the world. Unfortunately, its coffers now hold $4.78. Since I was the only trustee and, as you know, I am allergic to cats and early on have learned to loath them, I used the bulk of the monies for better purposes than exalting cats. So, the $611,000+ funds went to worthy causes that only a dog-lover would appreciate.

    But, enough about Magus. Although you will miss her, she lived more than a full life, reaching at least 1,134 years (9 lives x 7 dog years per year lived x 18).

    As you probably do not know (since you were preoccupied with Magus’s passing and the publication of your new book), I, too, wrote a book entitled “The Positives of Glass Negatives”. It sits on a website and can be previewed (best in full page mode) at


    and I expect it even to outsell your new book. I already bought one. In it, while extolling the virtues of the non-cat activity of buying, digitizing and messing with antique glass plate photo negatives, I even mention cats. At p. 9, I quoted an old saying “If you swing a cat by its tail, you will most likely hit a glass negative of a family or animal”. I want you to know, in deference to Magus, I edited this sentence for publication by deleting the word “dead” in front of “cat”. It was the most I could do.

    I end by saying that for a cat, Magus, whom I knew from her earliest of days, was okay for a cat. Again, the most I could do.

    My best to you, Meredith and the kids in your hours of loss and grief.

    Big Al


    March 31, 2011 at 5:44 pm

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