Remembering Prince the Cat in the North End

John Sullivan of Prince Postale shares this special remembrance of Prince the Cat. (Note: A memorial service will be held for Prince on March 29th, 6:00 p.m. at Old North Church, 193 Salem Street.) 

Prince had his own Twitter following #wheresprince

On March 22nd, I received a call by one of Prince’s friends on Greenough Lane that he was sick and to come quickly. I ran out of the store and up the street. When I arrived in the alley, Prince was lying in a box with a blanket. They said he just collapsed and they got him into a box to make him comfortable. I picked him up and he looked at me with hopeful eyes. We ran to the store and called the vet. We rushed to the Animal Rescue League on Tremont Street. I pet his neck while driving all the way there asking him to hold on. I could hear him breathing.

When I pulled into the parking lot at the vet, I picked him up into my arms. He was gasping for air. He died in my arms as we ran into the clinic. No heart beat, no purr, no more Prince. The vet put her hands on him and said he is gone. I asked why. I asked how. The vet asked me what happened and I told her in detail. Without an examination she believes he had a stroke. His hind legs were unresponsive when I first found him and he was gasping for air the entire drive to the South End. The vet informed me that from the details it sounded like a stroke and blood and oxygen were cut and the legs were affected first. Even if I was faster, they would not have been able to save him. My little friend, my boy is gone. Prince was born with a heart murmur. I was told, early on by the vet, it could be an issue down the road, but otherwise he was a healthy handsome creature.

Prince at Old North
Prince at Old North

Prince was my first animal as an adult. He lived in my shop and spent every day with me for his first 2 and half years. When he was a kitten, I would spend hours at night in the store playing with him and teaching him anything I could. Prince came into my life when I needed a friend. He helped me stop drinking. He helped me with depression. He would sit and watch me work with my power tools and never flinch. He trusted me. Prince saved the store from fire twice by alerting me to the problem before it was able to escalate. The first time was an arcing wire melting in the breaker box. The other incident was a pinched wire under the soda cooler that was that was catching fire on the subfloor underneath and only Prince could see it. I remember how he ran up and hit my legs with his paws and ran to the cooler and then back to me until I removed the cover and saw what he was trying to show me. He was a very unique animal.

As Prince got older, he became acclimated to the streets of the North End. His territory was from my shop down Prince Street to the Brinks along Commercial Street to 7-11 and down Hanover to the Prado. He learned every building and basement in our section of the North End.

Prince was famous for visiting the Old North Church and gift shop. He enjoyed watching a softball game on a summer night under the lights lying in the outfield of Langone Park. He would join in at the Bocce Courts and walk the halls of the Eliot School on Charter Street. Someone would ask, “Whose cat is that?” and quickly you would hear, “That is Prince” from a child, neighbor or friend. He was loved by almost everyone. He was mentioned in a Trip Advisor review of the “Ghost Tours” for appearing on a grave stone at Copp’s Hill Burial Ground.

Prince Postale
Prince Postale

Prince was a natural hunter. He loved to hang out and watch the birds and then take one out with lightning speed and agility. On occasion he would bring the bird, still flapping in his mouth, into the Old North Church. One night, a couple of years ago, a neighbor called me and asked if I would let Chica spend the night with her because she had several baby rats running in and out of her kitchen. Chica is my little girl cat. She is not a hunter. Chica is all hugs and kisses. I informed my neighbor that she would need Prince not Chica. I talked to Prince and told him what he was going to do. When we arrived at my neighbor’s apartment, I told her to watch what he does. She asked, “Why?” I said, “When I put him down he will let us know where the problem is coming from.” She replied, “OK”. Prince and I were at the apartment door and I placed him down and told him to find the rats. Prince walked into the apartment slowly, glanced into the bedroom, walked into the living room and approached my neighbor on the sofa. Prince stopped and turned around and looked at me and looked over to the kitchen. I said, “Prince, are the rats in the kitchen?” He looked at me and blinked softly 3 times. He then walked into the kitchen sniffed the stove and the cabinets and stopped at the sink cabinet. I asked, “Prince, are the rats coming from the cabinet?” He pawed the cabinet with one paw and meowed and looked at me. I opened the cabinet and he rushed in. He quickly turned around and popped his head out and meowed and ran back inside. I turned to my neighbor and said, “You are in good hands. He will have something for you in the morning”.  A little after six a.m., the next morning, my neighbor called letting me know Prince killed three baby rats and put them next to each other in the kitchen by the stove. She also asked if I could come remove them. I went and retrieved Prince and discarded the kill. My neighbor was grateful and very impressed with Prince’s skills. She joked that maybe Prince could do the same to the management company for ignoring her calls about rats. I replied, “I wish he could”.

The stories Prince created with his presence are many for a cat that died too young.

Those Eyes
Those Eyes

Prince would have been seven years old this May. I thought he would have had a long healthy life after surviving several years on the streets of the North End. He was street savvy and people savvy. He knew who to go to and when to hide. I am numb thinking that my boy is gone. I was warned that it is a heartbreaking loss when an animal that is part of the family dies. I thought he would have been around for 15-20 years, perhaps outliving me.

Prince was an ambassador for the tourists and visitors of the North End. He sat on the Freedom Trail and welcomed everyone who passed him. He has made friends with people from all over the world. Prince was photographed and uploaded to the internet on Pinterest and Twitter #wheresprince. Prince always knew where his home was and if he wasn’t fed by a stranger he would come home most afternoons on his own.

Thank you to all the people who were kind to my boy Prince and to all animals.

I am numb.

John Sullivan
Prince Postale owner and Prince the Cat companion

26 Replies to “Remembering Prince the Cat in the North End

  1. Hi John, The photos are great and capture the ‘essence’ of Prince. Walking the beam in the North Church, to hanging out the window while guys worked inside…He was an ‘other world’ cat, truly. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I know you are grieving, and I believe you will have the comfort in knowing how you loved him and how others loved him. You and Prince spread happiness. Superstar.
    Good you put a reminder of the Memorial, since the area is a-flutter today with Easter, as it should be. See you on Tuesday. How about framing the photos and ‘showcasing’ them in your store?

  2. Will miss seeing this lovely kitty on my trips home to the NE. He’ll go down in the cat annals with the likes of Lucia from “The Connah”

  3. My condolences John, Prince was a king among cats! He loved to torture my dog Bruno from behind your door after hours and put him in his place when they met at the Prado. I’d see him with friends who don’t live here who worried about the “stray”. I always said, “Oh, that’s Prince. Don’t worry about him, he owns this part of the North End.”

    Best wishes to you and Chica.

  4. Beautiful, John. It will take time… You will be numb and sad for a while. Know that Prince was loved by the NoEnd community. So sorry.

  5. Prince was a sweet, handsome cat and a staple in the north end community. I loved seeing him and wondering where he would pop up next. I pet him while you faxed paperwork for me which eventually got me my new job. I believe Prince was good luck. Very sorry for your loss.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about Prince it’s a terrible loss when you lose any animal. He will be missed. Freeway

  7. Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

  8. A legend of the North End who will never be forgotten. I am so sorry for your loss. You’ll always see him out of the corner of your eye. Rest well, Prince.

  9. John, thank you for sharing all that Prince brought to your life. What a special bond you had. Prince was an important part of out community fabric and served as a uniting force that enabled us more freely share with each other. Hopefully that spirit will remain with us.

  10. Jan from Bovina:

    With you in your pain, John. Prince was so a part of you. I hope you’ll let all your friends inch into your heart to make this time a bit more tolerable.

  11. So sorry for your loss John. Always loved seeing him walk up and down Hull St. A special NE cat indeed.

  12. I did not know Prince but I do understand pet loss grief. I had a very unique pale gray Calico cat for 19 years. She was like a dog. She astounded me every day at what she could do. She never missed a night sleeping with me, showering with me, reading with me, sitting on all my important papers while I worked. She was such a love bug. She filled my life with laughter, love and wonderment.
    My little pal did get sick. I nursed her for months. Never leaving her alone.
    I finally realized it was time and she was euthanized March 19th. She died in my arms.
    I still hear her walking around my bedroom. There is no greater love than that between pet and owner.
    Not everyone understands that. I always feel a little sad for those who have not experienced that kind of devotion between owners and their 4 legged wonders.
    I’m sorry John for your loss. But I suspect Prince is playing with my little Missy on Rainbow Bridge.
    Could we ask for more.

  13. Mr. Sullivan Sir,

    I understand your loss. I too had a “silly Boy” who grew up to be ” my little Man” There is something about a Black cat. Can’t explain! Sorry for you loss.


  14. My sincere condolences John. I used to live above Dino’s and had two black cats myself. Sister and brother. Black cats are very special. Understand your loss and think about you as you grieve losing your boy.

  15. I’m so sorry for your loss. I brought my kids to the Old North Church last summer, a place that was special in my family, and after that we enjoyed seeing the Where’s Prince photos. What a great cat, he will be missed.

  16. I am writing this with tears in my eyes. I only saw Prince once and that was in Copp’s Hill Burial Ground. I am from Saratoga Springs, NY and was doing the tourist thing in Boston. My sister and I were in the graveyard and Prince just seemed to appear from behind a gravestone. I knew immediately he was a special cat who seemed to be sent to greet us. Ever since that meeting I followed him on FB and loved seeing all his pictures. It feels like I have lost my own pet. He was so obviously special and I know he will be waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge. I understand your loss and am mourning with you.


  17. So very sorry John. Prince would often come by and visit me at my home on Salem Street. I live next door to the Old North Church. Usually in the winter or when the weather was bad he would come to my back bedroom window and cry until I let him in. I am very sorry for your loss, he was such special cat. I miss him too.

  18. Prince I look out my living room window daily waiting and watching for your presence. Thank you for your affection and your entertaining wit! I was always in awe of your courage taking on my 70lb poodle and letting him know you and only you, owned the streets of the North End. Finally, I appreciate the fact that you trusted me to be a friend, to carry you and take you home now and then, in “iffy” weather .

    You are loved by many and will be remembered by many more!

    Pidg Ciampa

  19. John I am very sorry for your loss. I did not know Prince personally but know many that did and share your heavy heart.
    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story of your love and friedship that you shared with Prince.
    I am sure he will be keeping an eye on you and you will know it.
    My thought are with you.

  20. John, we are so sorry for the loss of your wonderful boy Prince. I cried when I read of his parting. We still feel the heartbreak of the recent passing of our boy Briggs the Boston, also too soon and also having felt he would live for many a year more. Thank you sharing the heartfelt tribute to Prince. We pray for your comfort and peace during this time of grieving.

  21. Hi John, my husband and I are so sorry for your loss. I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience of his life and his unfortunate passing with us. I’m sure that it was difficult for you to write, but I am so touched by this well-written post about your sweet Prince. My husband and I lived in the North End from 2011-2014 and would always make a point to stop and peek in (at basically all hours) to say hello to him. He was such a good and handsome little boy. I loved that he would wander around and do his own thing, and I was so filled with joy to see how involved he was with the Old North Church, so sweet. You were an incredible father to this sweet cat, he made such a positive impact on people. Please know that so many will be keeping you in their thoughts and prayers. He will always be with you; I’m sure his soul will continue to visit you and the North End when he can – in between catching angel birds and angel mice!

    Sending thoughts of peace, comfort, gratitude and the hope that your heart heals soon.

  22. Hi John,
    I do quite a bit of photography around the North End and remember encountering Prince quite a few times. I will have to go through some of my files and see if I have any of him. I’ll post to your FB page if I have any.
    I am truly sorry for your loss and am sending prayers for your peace and comfort.

    Joann Vitali

  23. Hi John,
    Sue and I are sorry for your loss, Prince would often visit our home at 54 Snow Hill st, He would walk right in and make himself at home, He also enjoyed hanging out with us on the patio, We will miss him also.

    Joe and Sue DeFazio

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