Mookie, the famous traveling tabby, died Wednesday. He was 19 years old.
The cat’s peculiar attachment to his Museum District neighborhood made him a local legend. When his original owners moved in 2002 to a house two miles away, Mookie wasn’t having it. At least a dozen times, he walked along busy roads and over the Downtown Expressway to get back to his old stomping grounds at Grove and Belmont avenues.
Mookie eventually returned for good and resumed his role as neighborhood watch cat. He lived with Belmont residents Brooks Godwin and Dave Olli, but he belonged to everyone. Each day he strolled from porch to porch, following the sunlight. At 3 p.m. he’d settle on neighbor Bertha Burke’s stoop so St. Benedict schoolchildren could pet him on their way home.
In August, Mookie vanished on the eve of Hurricane Irene, causing consternation. He was found a few days later, having been innocently abducted by a good Samaritan who thought he was a stray.
In recent months, despite frequent vet visits, Mookie’s health began to fail. His owners decided it was time. “He was basically telling us, ‘I got to go,’” Godwin says. On Wednesday “he just sat in the sun and went from house to house, very slowly, making his goodbyes.” About 10 neighbors gathered for his backyard funeral.
“We’re all going to miss him like a front tooth,” Burke says.