This page was last updated on 19 September 2008.


The Story of Morris

In late 2000, my cat Morris got very sick. He stopped eating and developed liver problems as a result. For a while there it looked as if he wasn't going to make it. I was distraught, as you might imagine, and I sought relief in the way I usually do -- I wrote. In this case I wrote a children's story about a cat named Morris who dies and goes to Heaven, where he meets a cat named Rusty, who tells him how to help the young man who had cared for them both overcome his sadness at Morris's death. Thankfully, Morris recovered from that illness, although at some point we discovered that he had a bad heart, and was living on borrowed time. That time ran out on April 24th, 2002, almost five years to the day after Rusty left.

I finished the story about Morris, Rusty, and the young man. And starting now, I will tell new felines in my household not just the Story of Rusty, but the Story of Rusty and Morris.

There once was a cat named Morris, who lived with a young man in a big city. Morris was a big orange and white tabby cat, with tiger stripes and a little bit of white fur under his chin.

Morris also had big feet, and on those big feet he had seven toes! Morris was polydactyl ("polly-dak-til"), an old Greek word meaning "many-toes".

Morris loved the young man, and the young man loved Morris.

The young man would sit on the couch and read a book, and Morris would lay down on his lap and sleep.

The young man would work at his desk in his office, and Morris would sit on a pillow and look out the window and purr.

And when the young man went to bed, Morris would curl up next to the young man, and stay there all night.

When the young man went out of town on business, Morris would sit by the door and cry until the young man came home.

One day, the young man saw that Morris was acting strange. Morris was not acting like himself. The young man was worried, so he took Morris to see his friend Fern, the cat doctor.

Fern the cat doctor ran some tests, and told the young man the bad news. Morris was very sick. She would do all that she could, but it might be time to say Goodbye to Morris.

This made the young man very sad. Morris did not understand why the young man was sad. The young man spoke quietly to Morris. The young man told Morris that he loved him, and that the young man would do everything he could to help Morris, even if that meant saying Goodbye. Morris curled up in his lap and went to sleep.

Fern the cat doctor did what she could, but Morris was very sick. She told the young man that it was time to say Goodbye. The young man said Goodbye to Morris, crying while he did so. Morris left the young man, to go to Heaven.

When Morris got to Heaven, there was an even bigger orange tabby cat waiting for him. "You're Morris," said the big orange tabby cat. "My name is Rusty, and I am here to show you around."

"Rusty!" exclaimed Morris. "I've heard about you! You used to live with the young man! He told me the Story of Rusty many times. He loved you very much."

"Yes, I know," said Rusty. "I've watched you and the young man. I loved the young man very much, and he loved me. He loved you, too."

Rusty showed Morris around Heaven. Heaven is a neat place for cats. There are lots of kids who like to play with cats. There are plenty of windowsills, with lots of interesting things going on outside to watch. And there are lots of patches of sunlight, for cats to curl up and take long naps in.

A day or two later, Morris and Rusty sat in a patch of sunlight. They were looking down from Heaven at the young man. "The young man is very sad," said Morris. "He's sad because he misses me. I wish there is something I could do to make him feel better."

"Yes," said Rusty, "the young man is very sad. He loved you very much. When he said Goodbye to me," Rusty continued, "The young man was very sad, so here is what I did."

"Late at night, after the young man was asleep," Rusty said, "I spoke to him in a dream. I told him that it was okay to be sad that I was gone, but that there are many other cats out there who are looking for a good home. The next day, he went to the animal shelter and found you, Morris."

Morris sat and thought about that. And that night, when the young man fell asleep, Morris knew what to do.

Morris went to the sleeping young man, and whispered to him in a dream. "I'm sorry you are sad," Morris said. "I did not want to leave, but it was time to say Goodbye. I know you miss me, but it's not good that you be sad all of the time. You should go find some other cat that needs a good home, and love him like you did me."

The next day, the young man went to the animal shelter. He adopted a big gray tabby cat named Max. That evening the young man sat in his chair, with Max curled up on his lap, purring. The young man quietly told Max the Story of Rusty and Morris. Max purred and went to sleep in his lap.

Morris and Rusty watched this from their perch up in Heaven. "I think Max is in good hands," said Rusty.

"Yes," said Morris, "I think they both are."

The Morris Monster awake.
The Morris Monster asleep.
A sleeping Morris shows off his feet.
I think the extra toes allow him to hold the bowl better.
Morris in a reflective moment.
What's so interesting out there? Maggie (top), Morris (middle), and Ashley (floor) check out the neighbors.
Randy (top) and Morris (bottom) enjoy the view on the cat condo. (Luckily, cats can see well at night.)