Loving an animal feels entirely different from loving a human being. The former—though without a voice—can speak volumes with their actions.
So when a Maine Coon named Marty passed away, his human companions were devastated. They lost someone who was more than just a pet; they lost a family member.
“As a past observer who lived on the summit for four years I can tell you Marty was a special companion, entertainer and so incredibly loved by observers and state park staff and will be sadly missed,” Mount Washington Summit Operations Manager Rebecca Scholand said in a statement.
Marty was a beloved cat who played a very important role in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Observatory. The structure is situated 6,288 feet above sea level, making the mountain the highest peak in the Northeast.
The meteorologists who work there say they’ve experienced some of the world’s worst weather.
Their job entails collecting weather data every hour of the day. The work they do is important, it becomes especially crucial during the cold winter months. Both interns and meteorologists stay at the summit for a week to make sure the instruments don’t collect ice and remain usable.
The observatory is housed inside a concrete structure built into the mountain. While the meteorologists value their work, the relative isolation they experience can sometimes take a toll on them. That’s where Marty the cat comes in.
The black Maine Coon became Mount Washington’s mascot in 2008. He lived in the observatory for 12 years before succumbing to an “unexpected illness” in November 2020.
“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Marty the Cat. For many years he has provided summit staff with companionship and love. Due to an unforeseen illness he passed peacefully in my arms. To Marty the Cat, thank you for all your silliness, snuggles, and companionship not only to the summit staff, but to everyone who ever met you,” a worker from the observatory wrote in an emotional Facebook post.
Marty was around 14 or 15 years old when he passed away. He served as the staffs’ comfort and connection to the outside world whenever they braved their lengthy and tiring shifts.
Marty would sit on their laps or rub his body against their legs while they toiled away. Amid their heavy workload, the cat was a constant reminder for them to breathe, smile, and relax.
But just like most cats, Marty was unpredictable. He could be all sweet and cuddly this week and distant the next. Nevertheless, his family in the observatory loved him just the same.
Most cats arrive at a unique location by chance, but not Marty. He was deliberately chosen as the Mount Washington Mascot. The observatory has always had cats since it was established in 1932, and Marty’s tenure was part of that long-held tradition.
The observatory held its first “Mascot Primary” in 2008, and after counting over 8,000 votes, Marty ended up winning as the “Top Cat.”
He was originally adopted from the North Conway Area Humane Society and moved to the summit in January 2008.
The cat was always featured in the observatory’s social media pages. And in honor of his memory, one of the two 2021 calendars sold by the observatory will feature photos of the feline and be called “Marty on Mount Washington.”
Marty was supposed to retire as the mountain’s mascot in early 2021. In keeping with custom, the observatory will appoint Marty’s successor, although it’s unclear when.
“The summit feline tradition will continue,” the group said in a statement.
But one thing is for sure – that cat will have big paws to fill.