Goodbye, Minnaloushe


This morning I took Minnaloushe to the vet to have her put down. There was no good reason to wait longer. She could barely walk, since her tumor was dragging her down. Back in January, when I took her to the animal hospital in Budapest, it was so large and diffuse that they said it could not be operated. It must have doubled in size since then. She was bearing it all bravely, but each day got harder for her; sometimes when I stroked her she would start purring a wailing purr, a purr that sounded like a scream.

Each day was a question. Is it time yet? Should I wait just a little longer? Then yesterday the question narrowed down: today, tomorrow, Monday, or Tuesday? Yesterday afternoon I could find no vet office that was open; a couple were technically open, but no vets were there. Sunday all the offices would be closed. I thought waiting until Monday would put Minnaloushe through too much pain. Tuesday was the day when I could bring her back to the vet who had seen her before, but that was too far away. So this morning I brought out the cat carrier and put her inside. She didn’t resist me, and it took a few minutes before she could work up a meow.

Carrying her on foot to the vet, I realized how much weight she had lost since January. The carrier used to be heavy; now it was light. Before heading over there, I stopped by the Zagyva river and let her sit on the wall, to hear the ducks and feel the fresh air. Then I put her back in the carrier and walked onward.

In the waiting room, there were several people with dogs. One family was gathered around a little dog, stroking him and crying. The dog was still alive, but I knew they were about to say goodbye to him. They let everyone go ahead of them; they were waiting it out with the dog as long as they could. I let myself cry too. I went into the vet’s room before them.

The vet was astounded by the size of Minnaloushe’s tumor (he called it “borzasztó,” which means “awful,” “tremendous”). There was no question that this was the time for her to go. He asked me to leave the room, but I said that I wished to stay if possible. He said I could, so while the assistant kept hold of Minnaloushe, I held her head in my hand and stroked her. She was mostly calm; she struggled a little, but not much. They put her in a box, and I carried her home. I had decided on cremation–I regretted not doing this for Aengus, so this was in memory of him too–and called the cremation office when I got home. One of their staff came out to Szolnok, to my apartment, and picked Minnaloushe up. I had wrapped her in the blue towel she used to love to cuddle in; he let me put her, towel and all, in his carrier. He, or one of his colleagues, will come back tomorrow and give me the urn with her ashes.

She was a great companion. The best word for her is “lelkes,” the Hungarian word for “enthusiastic” (but it has the same root as “lélek,” “soul”). If anyone came by, she would run up and greet the person (while she was still well, that is). She didn’t usually play with toys on her own, but if I tossed a toy, she would run and pounce on it. She also enjoyed things that dangled from strings, as well as strings themselves.

She and Aengus (the other cat I brought with me to Hungary–he died two years ago) started out as resolute foes, then grew close. But their relations grew tense again after we moved to Hungary, maybe because they had to share a much smaller space. Even so, they were troopers.


After Aengus died, Minnaloushe annexed his share of the kingdom, but day after day she bore her regal status humbly, greeting me at the door, waiting patiently for me to feed her, and napping on the bed or floor while I worked at my desk. But she also did things that were emphatically the ways of a cat.


Many people have met her over the years–played with her, stroked her, sung to her. A few have taken care of her during my travels. Many have been thinking of her lately, asking about her, and wishing us the best. Thanks to all of you.

Goodbye, Minnaloushe.

Leave a comment


  1. Jenna Wikler

     /  February 8, 2020

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It seems that you bore it well. She was lucky to have you.

  2. It’s so sad to lose our littlw friends

  3. Brianna Kenzie

     /  February 9, 2020

    So sorry. You honor her well. She’s always only just a thought away. My first kitty I rescued was 14. By the time she turned 19 she developed kidney issues. And when I had to let her go when she was 20 it broke my heart. But remembering her snuggles and thinking of her always makes me happy. She’s only a thought away. I have two kitty’s now and I love them dearly and am thankful for them daily. Maybe there’s another kitty or two needing your love now, maybe too soon, but maybe one day. So many out there need a home.

  4. I know how much you loved your cats and how important they have been to you. It is so very hard to lose them. We send you our love. Stan & Marjorie

  5. Thanks to all of you–Jenna, Ashana, Brianna, Stan, and Mom–for your sweet comments. I am glad that Minnaloushe is not suffering any more. And I miss her.


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    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In April 2022, Deep Vellum published her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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