Chris’ cat Nasdaq passed away yesterday…

I just wanted to mention to folks, since I know we have so many pet lovers out there, that one of Chris’ cats, the big black one called Nasdaq, died yesterday.


Nasdaq was a teenager with a bit of an eating problem – the old girl LOVED to eat (though Sushi had his moments) – but it was finally cancer that proved her match.

To Nasdaq, everything in life was finger-licking-good.

To Nasdaq, everything in life was finger-licking-good.

Chris and his wife Joelle have (had) two cats, Nasdaq and Sushi (Sushi, the skinny grey one, is still around).  For my tastes, Nasdaq was always the simpler more loving cat, in her manner.  As a dog person, I tend to pigeon-hole animals by their intelligence.  Sometimes the most affectionate dogs (my parents’ dog Kukla comes to mind) is as sweet and free-wheeling with the love as she can be, in part, or perhaps due to, the fact that she’s kind of a blithering idiot.  Sasha, my dog, in contrast, is quite intelligent, and boy do you have to earn the love.



I wouldn’t ever want to call Nasdaq dumb, but let’s put it this way: Sushi was the one who would slink around the house waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on Nasdaq out of the blue.  Nasdaq, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to take a nap next to Sushi and lick his face.  Sushi, true to form, would permit Nasdaq to clean him, occasionally, but then within a few minutes would get bored, and take a swipe at Nasdaq’s face.  You get the picture.


Sushi was definitely the one in charge, from my perspective, and Nasdaq was the lovable groupie with the weight problem.  I remember the time that Sushi dragged a live, but now-injured, pigeon into the apartment at around 11pm at night, while Chris and Joelle were vacationing in the south.  Or as I referred to the incident at the time, “God d*mn cats just brought an enormous pigeon into the house.”

What happened next was a good hour of me trying to capture the flailing the bird, while Sushi kept trying to play with it (blood and feathers flying everywhere), and Nasdaq, for her part, hissed at it, then at me, then ran behind the curtains to bravely continue her hissing – she was providing Sushi with moral support – from a safe distance. I found out that it’s quite impossible to catch a live birth with a blanket (just try).  But salad spinners work quite well.


From what I remember Chris and Joelle telling me, the two cats were related. And both have had their health problems the last couple of years, mostly associated with simply getting old.  Sushi has been having thyroid problems, and is still having a hard time keep on the weight.  While Nasdaq had cancer toward the end (it was first treated in 2008), but a few years back also had asthma.  And let me tell you, that was a real joy to treat.

Nasdaq famously needed a steroid inhaler a few years back, taking the same medicine I take for my asthma.   I remember Chris telling me I’d need to give Nasdaq the medicine twice a day while I was there (I house sit/cat sit for them every August while they’re on vacation).

The inhaler works in the following manner.  You grab the cab, hold them still, while you put this contraption over their muzzle, push down on the back of it (like albuterol) until it gives a puffy mist of medicine and a loud pssssht that apparently scares the hell out of cats.


This part covers the cats muzzle up to its eyes. As you can imagine, that went over really well.

This thing was designed by someone who had clearly never met a cat. I wrote a bit about my experience administering this to Nasdaq a few years back:

 Those of you who have cats will appreciate what happens next.

Being a dog guy, I was worried that Nasdaq might bite me, or scratch me. But I never quite anticipated what she actually did. I cornered her and gave her her two shots of medicine and she took it quite well, then ran like hell. Never to be seen again.

For two full weeks, Nasdaq ran and hid every morning, and every evening, just about the time I needed to find her to give her the medicine. If she accidentally ran into me in the hallway, she bolted. The cat literally hid from me for two full weeks. Now sure, a dog might have bitten your arm off doing this to her (well, actually your own dog would know better), but a dog would have faithfully put up with it every morning and night. A cat simply runs and hides. And if you’ve ever tried to catch a running cat, it’s nothing like a dog. They’re like jello. Or in Nasdaq’s case, very fat, slow-moving jello, but jello nonetheless.

Perhaps my favorite Nasdaq story is from a few years ago.  As I’d mentioned, our little CatGirl had a bit of a weight problem that came down on her after she was fixed, and never got better.  While Sushi could graze lazily all day long, Nasdaq would devour anything and everything that was put in front of her.  And she quickly grew to a good 17+ pounds.  Chris and Joelle put her on a strict diet or diet cat-food, and would even put Sushi’s food on the dining room table, where Nasdaq was too fat, and old, to jump.  Yet somehow, Nasdaq kept putting on weight.

Well.  I had a hunch.  It seemed to me that Sushi’s food on the dining room table was disappearing far too quickly.  And while Chris and Joelle averred that there was no way CatGirl was jumping on the table (we had the chairs pushed in, and Nasdaq could barely struggle to get on to the bed), I had a feeling that there was more to Nasdaq than met the eye.  So I googled around and found a free program to turn my laptop computer into a spy cam.  I pointed it at the dining room table, went to bed, and any time a cat jumped on the table the camera would automatically turn on and record for 15 seconds or so.

So I wake up the next morning, check the film logs, and what do I see?


Yes, Nasdaq it seems was a tad more nimble than anyone gave her credit for. Here’s the full video from the middle of the night:

One of Nasdaq’s great joys in life was taking ownership over suitcases, which dove-tailed nicely with her other joy in life, sleeping. Whether it was my suitcase while visting (and I had to put a towel over it to stop all the hair from sticking):


Or Joelle’s suitcase as she and Chris were packing to leave on their month-long trip – Nasdaq always knew when they were leaving, and would occupy Joelle’s suitcase in an attempt to stop the madness:


Nasdaq, along with her partner in slumber, Sushi, would sometimes play with the toys I brought them from America.  The George W. Bush doll was a bit hit for a few hours:


But being of the AARP-generation, in cat years, toys no longer quite cut it with these cats.  What always remained a favorite past-time, however, was of course sunning themselves on the balcony.  Chris and Joelle has a lovely garden, which is unusual for Paris, where the cats just loved to always sun themselves.





Joelle and Sushi, with Chris’ famous hydrangeas.

Another of my favorite memories of Nasdaq is the time she shat all over my clothes in the hamper. Oh sure, I’m not 100% certain which cat did the deed, but I always had my suspicions that it was Nasdaq.  I remember at the time that you guys had recommended I not try to scold the cats, as that would only make things worse.  Your advice was to make more of an effort befriending Nasdaq, so I did – here were the results:

In Nasdaq’s world, this counted as exercise as well :) She had this thing for rolling on her back when you called her name – thus the calisthenics in the video above.

And finally, here’s Chris and CatGirl, as he and Joelle like to call her:


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

Share This Post

  • nobonesl

    Have a good journey, Nasdaq. Enjoy The Great Beyond.

  • payingattention

    So very sorry for everyone’s loss of a fine friend. Our 15 yr old Coco looks very much like Nasdaq. (I just realized she is my profile pic.) Also a big people food gal. She also was diagnosed with ‘things’ last year, so I can truly empathize. Our animals are so much members of our families – even our extended families : ) . We’ll be thinking of you all.

  • Cathy Miller

    Pets are like our best friends. I am so sorry to hear about the cat. I know it meant so much for you and it was hard to make a decision to let him go. Please accept my sincere condolence.

  • LOL

  • Butch1

    How true.

  • ezpz


  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Cats also have press agents. A mother dog is called a bitch. A mother cat is called a queen. That cannot be by accident.

  • PeteWa

    lol nice.

  • Zorba

    So very sad, and I send much sympathy and many hugs to Chris and Joelle.

  • Zorba

    Yes. And even those of us who do have children still deeply experience the losses of our pets. As do our children.
    Love is love. It is so sad when those we love, no matter the species, die. :-(

  • It’s true what they say: Cats have staff, dogs have people.

  • Yep. Bodhi becomes hard of hearing at times. I think he takes after me.

  • Bodhi does that to. They are intelligent and brilliant at communicating.

  • That’s funny. I used to do the same thing when my mopther would call me ‘Michael O’Shaughnessy .’ That was her no nonsense name.

  • They certainly are getting more sophisticated aren’t they.

  • This cat always liked hearing about Nasdaq and Sushi–and Nasdaq will be missed. (“If man could be crossed with a cat, it would improve man but deteriorate the cat.” –Mark Twain)

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    He understands no. He’s just ignoring you. My Fuzzface understands no. It means she should glower at me and swish her tail.

  • Suemarie

    So sad to read the news. John, your highly anticipated Paris posts will be diminished one beautiful cat’s worth. Your suitcase will seem empty without her. My condolences to Chris and Joelle and Sushi. It seems like Nasdaq lived an idyllic Parisian cat life. I was happy to be able to read about her.

  • Yeah, though I did consider posting the video of Nasdaq jumping off the Eiffel Tower… kidding :)

  • Butch1

    I just hate it when a beloved member of the family dies. It always tears my heart out each and every time. I only wish they could live as long as we do.

    For those of us who have no children, these many times are our replacements for them and we smother these companions with love and kindness and they in return give us back so much more in loyalty, protection and most of all, friendship for which one could not ask more. I’m including dogs and cats into this. We did have a Siamese cat that used to guard the front door and would not let anyone in unless we said it was okay when I was growing up. She was a force not to be reckoned with. ;-)

    Many of us who have experienced this loss a few times know your loss. My condolences to the both of you.

  • jomicur

    My sincere condolences. The loss of a family member,even a non-human one, is always a terrible thing.

  • sherman

    Wonderful tribute. RIP Nasdaq. Condolences to those who loved you, and who you loved.

  • milli2

    I am so sorry for your loss Chris, Joelle. John that was a beautiful tribute. For a “non-cat” person, you certainly showed your love and affection for this little soul.

  • My dog knows every word I say — except for “no”, apparently…

  • olandp

    You have my deepest sympathy.

  • HelenRainier

    Chris, Noelle, and Sushi — my condolences on the loss of Nasdaq. It’s always difficult to lose a beloved companion. Nasdaq will be at the Rainbow Bridge waiting for you.

    John, as others have said, this is a lovely tribute.

  • ezpz

    That’s so cute.

  • PeteWa

    I love that you named all of her toys, that’s awesome.
    some dogs are known to understand over 250 different words.
    one of my favorite things that our guy does is if we’re sitting around chatting with our friends and he’s on the couch with us, he will occasionally decide that he also has something to say – and then he starts making really odd non-dog sounds while looking at you.

  • ezpz

    That’s funny. It must be the tone we use – or something. They’re just smart and tuned in – especially to their people partners.

    “…upwards of thirty…”

    Thank you. Good to know I’m not the only one. I adopted a Basenji mix a little more than a year ago, and I can’t even count how many names he answers to – already.

    My late Golden/Lab mix girl, may she RIP, had accumulated quite a collection in her twelve years on earth. But she always knew her *official* name. She was a smart girl. We named all her toys, and she knew each and every one of them by name.

    Yes, our furry friends are true treasures.
    I don’t think I could ever be without one. In fact, I know I can’t.

  • PeteWa

    Hahahah, that’s so funny and true.

    I was going through the various names I have for my dog (upwards of thirty) and he responds to all of them, although there’s about five I use very regularly.
    He also knows who a few of my friends are regardless of the nicknames I use for them.
    Earlier today he was about to get into a barking fit at the neighbor’s dog and I said, “Excuse me, sir?” and as soon as I said ‘sir’, which I’ve never called him before, he turned and looked at me.

    He knew I meant him, not the other people in the room.

  • 2patricius2

    I’m so sorry. I have had a number of pets over the years, most of them cats. It is never easy when one of them dies. I wouldn’t want to live without a companion animal sharing my home with me. But the one drawback is they live such short lives. But they bring such joy and keep me aware of how connected to other animals and all of nature I am, while in this world.

  • ezpz

    I’ve had dogs, but I do have friends who have cats, and I certainly do understand how “Your Majesty” would fit.

  • Moderator3

    You need to give me a few minutes. They hit four different places.

  • mirror

    We have always had a thin/average cat and a fat cat. The two fat cats we’ve had started as small cats, but they got very sophisticated in their methods for getting larger shares of food. You are so right It is very hard to get their weight down once its up.

  • SPAM troll

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I guess I should have mentioned the name she prefers – Your Majesty.

    Anyone who has ever had a cat will understand that.

  • mirror

    RIP Nasdaq. My condolences to Chris and Joelle, and all you other family and friends. (The video was hilarious!) :-(

  • Sweetie

    It’s very difficult to keep a cat’s weight down. They meow endlessly for food, knock over the garbage can, catch birds and other animals, jump up onto the counters… basically anything they can do. One trick is to wake people up really early, so that we’re so tired we don’t precisely measure the food allotment. This tends to get the cat extra food.

  • piwifaquzehy

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    My heart goes out to Chris,
    Joelle, and Sushi. Losing a family member is always difficult. I hope
    they support each other through this time of grief, and are comforted by
    their memories of Nasdaq.

  • ezpz

    Yes, it is indeed funny AND fun to spontaneously come up with the names that we do for our sweet ones. And what’s really funny is that even though they know their real names, they always answer to the new ones.

  • Jonas Grumby


  • ezpz

    So sorry to family and friends of Nasdaq for your loss.
    May the sweet memories comfort you always.

  • citizen_spot

    RIP Nasdaq. Condolences to those who loved her.

  • sralloway

    Losing a pet is losing a family member. Too many times our kits have died too soon – even if they lived long. My thoughts are with you. It hurts, but the pain eases as the good memories come back to you. Time heals; it is true.

  • Katdaddy

    Very sorry for your loss, Chris and Joelle. Obviously, Nasdaq was a huge part of your family and will be truly missed. I’ll keep Nasdaq in my prayers.

  • Quilla

    What wonderful and funny memories!

    Nasdaq had a good life which is what we can hope for all animals.

    Condolences to Chris, Joelle, and Sushi.

  • keirmeister

    I visit this site too much. Reading about Nasdaq’s death, I felt as if you were talking about a celebrity.

    Condolences to Chris and Joelle.

  • cole3244

    a domestic cat killing a wild pigeon is the natural world, another enlightened neanderthal.

  • cole3244

    enlightened you’re not although you think you are.

  • Yea! The names we come up with are fun. Bodhi is often called Mr. Dog Hound, even though he’s a Cocker, not a Hound.

  • annetteboardman

    so sorry for them. I was devastated when I lost my cat. So what did I do? I went and got three! And that was so if I lost one it would not hurt as much. That was the idea. I know now how dumb that was — three more chances for heartbreak. But in the meantime, three times as much love. What a lovely tribute — I know how much she meant to them. And to you (you old softy!).

  • PeteWa

    condolences to all who loved Nasdaq.

  • S in PA

    I send my most heartfelt condolences to Chris and Joelle. I lost my eldest cat to cancer in May. She was the cat that slept with me every night, and she was a Reader’s Pets here (I was lucky enough to run across her one day when she was featured, back before the redesign of the site, and made sure to make a copy of it). Having two other cats, I wasn’t planning to get a new one but whatever entity that controls my fate apparently decided that I need three cats so less than a month later, the security guard in my community brought to me a little lost feral kitten he rescued from the woods, so now I’m back up to three (and the other two, both 9 years old, now have to deal with a little energetic kitten that keeps play-attacking them).

  • hauksdottir

    Tears, again. :sigh:

    Our furry companions aren’t simply pets, but family… and their passing leaves a void that we can only fill with memories. Sincere condolences. {hug}

  • hauksdottir


  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    We lost our Golden about a decade ago. Our Bengal died about three years later. I was devastated, but my late husband felt that we needed a pet around the house. We adopted a black, female kitten/cat. She had been feral, and she was sort of withdrawn. However she liked the idea of a food dish, water dish, and a cat tower for climbing. About a week after her adoption, she discovered that my lap was a warm place for a nap. Suddenly, all the feral was gone.

    I was amused to see that Chris and Joelle called Nasdaq Catgirl. My little one now answers to either Little Girl or Fussface.

  • Ah, the Rainbow Bridge ………

  • Good points all KC. When we lost our brown cocker to a hit and run in Vermont The grief was unbearable. We said never again, it’s just too hard to lose our little loves, but then a black cocker rescue, Bodhi Dog, came into our lives and what a joy that has been. Rescues are good karma all the way around and they are so grateful for safe and loving homes as are we for the wonderful presence they bring into our lives.

  • amyl

    :( I’m very sorry.

  • That why when I’m feeling particularly ill these days I always make it a goal to get as far as the mulch pile—-just in case—–to be recycled.

  • joycied

    I clicked too soon, and I apologize. I send my thoughts to Chris and Joelle as they face the absence of a presence. I hope Sushi steps up to the plate. The big brother of my little girl had a hard time but has managed to get closer to us. Best to all you pet lovers out there.

  • Those who love very much get it…….:-)

  • joycied

    I am so sorry to hear this sad sad news. I feel like I know the Paris cats, having followed them on this blog for quite some time. I lost my little girl this past winter and was a wrecks for months. I still struggle. We have a bead maker in NH that helps you design a glass bead with a pinch of cremains. They sparkle when embedded in a bead. Mine is the Turkish evil eye on a necklace so she protects me and the reverse has a little sweet heart. Some folks get this, others don’t but it matters to me. She was my one in a million cat.

  • No matter the knowledge that it’s coming, The swirl of memories, the hope that maybe it won’t—when a beloved pet dies it is just so painful. RIP Nasdaq you were one luck cat to find that family! John, what a delightful narrative—-more of those. And, those exquisite red Hydrangea!

  • You’re being extremely rude and insensitive. This is a post about Chris and Joelle’s loss. It is not a place for you to grandstand and start throwing negativity at people.

    In addition to the fact, as usually happens with the Outrage Inc brigade, you don’t even have the facts right. Yet you’re still on a trigger-finger ready to accuse.

    These are not my cats, I am not a cat person, I have no idea how to corral two hissing cats into another room. And I’m sure as hell not going to try to physically pick up hissing cats. The only option was to keep the cats away from the bird, which I did (other than one quick photo for the cat parents), until I could catch it and let it loose outside. And that’s what I did.

    Personally, I find it hard to believe that keeping a bleeding bird alive for an hour while I tried to catch it, and then letting it loose outside, which I did, where it was sure to die, was the most humane thing to do. The most humane thing would have been to let the cat kill it right there – but I didn’t, in part because I didn’t want any more blood and feathers in Chris and Joelle’s living room. But I also did not want to watch the poor thing die, and was certainly not going to kill it myself.

    So you take your lack of compassion allegation and shove it up your ass. And I’m still waiting for you to express your condolences, which was the appropriate answer to a post about someone losing their pet.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I most certainly am serious. I don’t think John would have been able to put the pigeon out of it’s misery. I think he would be too soft hearted for that. The quickest way of alleviating the pigeons suffering would have been to let Sushi do what comes naturally. That’s Shushi’s nature.

    I am a vegan, and I am concerned for all animals. However, we should not try to interfere with the natural world.

  • Ninong

    Condolences to Chris and Joelle.

  • Steve_in_RI

    Condolences to Chris and Joelle. Losing an animal family member is always tough. John’s photos and words are a wonderful tribute!

  • cole3244

    as i said some peoples compassion stops at the waters edge, some expect compassion but only give it to whom they deem worthy of it.
    ps – i just lost a cat i had for 16 years and am losing another as i post i’ve had for 15 years but my compassion bleeds for all creatures not just the ones i happen to love and cherish.

  • cole3244

    you’re not serious.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I’ve always found this sad, but comforting:

  • jenjen64

    My sincerest condolences to Chris. Having lost one of my beloved furbabies last year I can only imagine what they are going through. I know I was inconsolable. Sending warm thoughts, hugs and wishes.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Look at the picture. The pigeon was mortally injured. The most humane thing to do was to let Sushi finish the job instead of letting the pigeon suffer.

  • 1) This is probably not the post to be bitchy, negative, and accusatory in the comments :-)

    2) I have more compassion for my fingers, hands and arms. I don’t pick up cats that are hissing at prey AND me :-)

    3) thanks for your condolences, speaking of compassion.

  • My most sincere condolences to Chris and Joelle. Our pets may not be humans, but they nevertheless become adopted members of our families, and work their furry paws deep into our hearts and souls.

    Even when we know they’ve not been well and their days with us are numbered, it’s hard to lose them.

  • cole3244

    so you didn’t separate the cats from the pigeon while trying to catch it, as a cat person thats what i would have done but compassion only goes so far with some people and their opinion of which species deserves respect.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    My sympathy to Chris and Joelle. It is indeed hard to lose a much loved pet.

  • TheOriginalLiz

    I’m so sorry.

  • KingCranky

    Such sadness when a pet passes on, the only observations I’d offer are that, in time, Chris, Joelle and anyone else who knew and treasured Nasdaq will remember the good times more than the end, with laughter more than tears.

    The other point is that, after however long the grieving takes, they can welcome another critter into a loving home.

    That’s what happened after I had to have my sweet little ray of sunshine, Jenny, put down, I ended up with two other kitties that would not have come into my life without her passing.

    I haven’t put any political content on my blog since 2008, but every year on the anniversary of her passing, I repost what I wrote immediately after Jenny’s last visit to the vet, and how the lives of the two little monsters-Dori & Dodger-helped get me past the sorrow, although not a day goes by that I don’t miss Jenny.

    Link—Saying Goodbye To Jenny, Saying Hello To Dori & Dodger

  • Indigo

    Cats and dogs are family. Condolences!

  • cocktailsat5

    Nasdaq left a legacy…to her family in wonderful loving memories and to those of us familiar with her little Parisian life through the writings on this global site. Perhaps some will remember the obit left here several years ago of one “Portly and Devine Mr. Sullivan” – the Winston Churchill of cats”….he’s waiting for Nasdaq at Rainbow Bridge. They shall each speak fondly of their loving families and rich lives and laugh heartily over bowls-full of their favorite foods – now ethereally immune to concerns of corpulence.

  • Lee Merrick

    My heart goes out to Chris, Joelle, and Sushi. Losing a family member is always difficult. I hope they support each other through this time of grief, and are comforted by their memories of Nasdaq.

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