The staff at the New York City office of the political journal The Nation magazine (“the flagship of the left”) are mourning the loss of their longtime companion Mr. Mick, a 17-year-old white-and-orange cat that died there on November 1.
Mr. Mick lived a long, eventful life, with many years spent at The Nation office, where he had lived for much of the past decade. He could often be seen napping in various inner offices, including Victor Navasky’s, which had a particularly comfortable and warm spot by the radiator.
When Mick wasn’t sleeping, he was making the rounds, usually looking for a better place to sleep but sometimes slipping into editorial board meetings and zigzagging between the legs of editors, writers and esteemed guests. It wasn’t uncommon for Mr. Mick to be the first thing people saw in the waiting room when they arrived at the office. He seemed to be sizing them up.
“I’d like to think we gave him a good intellectual environment, if not a terribly social one,” says one editor.
Mick wanted nothing to do with cat toys, but was endlessly amused by boxes. Any box of papers left lying around would inevitably be soiled by the cat, bringing a string of curse words from the unlucky owner of said box of papers. Eventually the staff learned to stop storing papers in open boxes.
He touched the lives of many at the office, including hundreds of interns who had rotated in and out over the years. In addition to his other interests, Mr. Mick enjoyed smelling shoes, dining on a variety of foods (sometimes four or five kinds at once) and receiving gentle tugs of his tail.
Mr. Mick — aka Mickey, Uncle Mick, Dr. Mick (Ph.D.), Mickster, Mickapuss, Chairman Meow and That Damn Cat — was born in the spring of 1994 in Upstate New York. Back then he spent much time mousing and chasing birds. Eventually, his care was entrusted to the staff of The Nation sometime around 2003. The history is a little fuzzy, but apparently some employees urged the higher-ups to allow Mr. Mick to live in the office. Miraculously, someone gave the OK.
Of course, not everyone was happy about having a cat living, eating, shedding and pooping in their workspace — and, in later years, undergoing minor surgeries on desktops — but one editor says, “It seems that if there is a God, he liked Mr. Mick and wanted him here.”
Mr. Mick came to The Nation with a set of instructions, including “two key Mick-related rules”:
“Don’t pick him up! The Mick loves all manner of petting, patting, and scratching, but picking him up makes him nervous and unhappy. It is best to keep his feet on the ground.
Don’t ever take him to a vet! Ever. This is serious. If you ever think Mickey is in real need of medical attention, you’ll need to find someone to make a house call. Mick is a sweet and docile cat, but if suitably scared and provoked — as when he is in a vet’s office — he is capable of taking out a heavily armed squad of Navy SEALs. Trust me on this one.”
On Tuesday, November 1, the staff gathered to say their final goodbyes, reaching down one by one to stroke Mr. Mick’s fur and whisper gentle thoughts to him during his last moments. His health had been declining for months, and he had lost a lot of weight. A staffer had been giving him IV treatments with guidance from the vet, who had diagnosed Mick with kidney disease. But in the past few days things had suddenly gotten much worse. He was, it seems, in the final stage of renal failure.
A veterinary team on house call rushed in to inspect him Tuesday, and then the doctor came over to address a roomful of people who had crowded in to find out what was happening. “It looks like his journey is over,” a staffer recalls the vet saying. With the aid and care of the medics, Mr. Mick died peacefully in the place he had held so dear to his heart for so many years: right there in the offices where he lived and roamed free.
He will be missed.