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.)
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 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 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.
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.
Prince Postale owner and Prince the Cat companion