Obituary: An Ode to Joey P. Kontje


Joey P. Kontje, circa 2011

Joey P. Kontje, born circa 1996, died on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 5:15 p.m. in Durham, North Carolina, United States of America. She is survived by her human mom, Irene Kontje, and a host of other doting humans, Aunts and Uncles – the lot of them, long-known as the Joey Fan Club. Surviving  creature cousins in Pennsylvania include (cats) Lynx, Psycho and Ritzy; (hamsters) Bella and Kweeks II; and (fish) Fred, George, Breakfast, Dinner and Snow.

Joey was pre-deceased by (dogs) Olivia, Sergie, Blackie, Tiny and Blinker; (cats) Oliver, Buttons, Pigpen, Cottonball and Carcassonne; (squirrel) Maxwell; and the lake turtles in New Jersey that almost killed her human mom in 1974.

Joey was born in Oakland, California and adopted by her human mom at eight weeks old, with help from Aunt Janet, and brought to a tiny, slug-infested garden apartment in Piedmont, California. Soon thereafter, she was joined by an eight-week old Siamese kitty from Berkeley, California who became her little sister. They loved to wrestle and bite each others’ ears.

Joey enjoyed, in her early years, outdoor hobbies, including killing and bringing home dead birds and mice. Her mom wishes to extend heartfelt thanks to Aunts Michelle and Tami for cleaning up bird carcasses on multiple occasions. Joey enjoyed sharing space with the neighborhood ‘possums and raccoons, and climbing trees to pluck tasty baby birds from their wee little nests.

The ladies at rest

Ladies at rest

Some of Joey’s favorite memories include:

  • When that cute little black animal with the white stripe raised its tail as Joey cluelessly sat cleaning her face with her paws.
  • The day when a raccoon came into the apartment and took a nap on Joey’s favorite papasan chair.
  • Those super-cool slug slime trails on the living room floor.
  • Her sister Jasmine. No, scratch that. Not so much.
  • When Jasmine would look at human mom and meow a hello, and mom would say, “Oh, hello, Jasmine! How are you?,” and Joey would stop whatever she was doing, plop down onto the carpet, and walk over and bite Jasmine on the hind leg.
  • Unending attempts at affection from humans, including sitting on laps, noggin-to-noggin bumping, incessant rubbing against pretty much any human appendage, and sleeping on human heads whenever possible (thanks to so many of you for your body parts and kittysitting skills, e.g., Vibe, Heidi, Shari, Julie, Abbey, Lynn, etc.)
  • Those made-for-Joey ubertoys – dreadlocks! She’ll be forever grateful for the night when mom brought home a Kenyan acrobat.
  • The fact that Joey got to live in three boroughs – Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. Mom hasn’t even lived in Brooklyn.
  • Full-on kitty bark-meow conversations with anyone who would talk to her.
  • Being left with awesome Joey Fan Club board members when mom was off studying in France, interning in Amsterdam, and trying to find work in Spain (thanks Uncle Eduardo and Aunts Jeanine and Bah).
  • Being erroneously called a boy her whole life.

    X-ray of mom's hair bands in Joey's tummy

    X-ray of mom’s hair bands in Joey’s tummy

  • Her homes in California, New Jersey, New York City (five different apartments!), Arizona, Amsterdam and North Carolina.
  • Freely roaming the apartment complex in Glendale, Arizona, which included getting locked in a neighbor’s closet (too much fun!) and frequent visits on her own steam to see Aunt Cindy.
  • Learning to meow in Dutch.
  • Going to the vet, which always equaled new humans to meet and love.
  • Extraordinary New York City vet John Higgins saving her life the first time (blocked bile duct).
  • Outrageously extraordinary vet John Higgins saving her life the second time after Joey swallowed ten of her mom’s black hair bands. That one entailed emergency surgery and a cone – all very exciting!
  • That time when Aunt Jeanine couldn’t sleep with Joey trying to lie on her head all night, so when Jeanine locked her out of the bedroom, Joey pooped in her purse.
  • That whole accidental pooping on Julie situation. It happens, but still – how embarrassing.
  • In addition to the pooping, countless memories of napping, eating, peeing and puking.

    Hate when that happens

    Hate when that happens

The good times were long-lived but couldn’t last forever.

Joey stopped eating and got skinny. A disconcerting lump in her stomach grew larger. She became glassy-eyed, listed when she walked, and could no longer jump up on the bed. Mom saw where this was headed and didn’t like it. Didn’t like it at all.

On the day she went to Kitty Heaven, Joey drank a little water. She wagged her tail, barked a meow, and, as always, sought affection. She took her last car ride and looked excitedly at everything around her. Joey paced the examining room at the vet’s office and methodically sniffed the corners. She looked up at counters she could no longer jump to. She met a new Aunt on this last day, Rachel, and sat next to her for a moment, saying hello. She hopped up on mom’s lap one last time and looked mom squarely in the eyes.

Shortly thereafter, with mom and a very nice lady vet, Joey fell heavy and limp. She was kissed on her striped orange head for the last time. Through tears, her mom thanked and thanked and thanked her for being such an outstanding friend and companion for seventeen adventure-filled years.

Joey wasn’t just a “cat.” She was a legend; a rock star. She was one-third puppy, one-third kitten and one-third human being. We’ll never know for sure if Joey’s human third was her mom’s brother, Wayne Joseph, reincarnated, and we don’t need to. We will live – and love – and die – with the mystery.

Rest in peace, my friend

Rest in peace, my friend

7 Responses to Obituary: An Ode to Joey P. Kontje

  1. Jenna Dooley says:

    Seriously had me in tears, and I never had the pleasure of meeting her. Rest easy Joey. May you have endless purses to poop in, closets to explore and a tree made of dreadlocks to play in.

  2. Estelle Grote says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful companion. She was so lucky to have a caring Mom who gave her a good life. I will pet my cats a little more tonight knowing that each day is a gift….thanks for sharing the memories!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    That was beautiful. She was a lucky cat to have been loved so much.

  4. Julie says:

    I forgave Joey long before her flowers of apology arrived after the pooping incident. Having Joey and her mom move here has been such a highlight for me and my daughter, Abbey! Joey wasn’t afraid of just asking for what she wanted….love/attention/treats! She taught me some big lessons. Thanks, Joey!!! xo Auntie Julie and Auntie Abbey

  5. andrea says:

    very sorry for ur loss…what wonderful tribute

  6. amymesseroff says:

    Wow! Tears. And more tears reading about my dear friend John who I miss. RIP Joey. Sounds like you brought much joy to mommy and many others. Bring John some joy up there. I am going to get up out of bed now and go give my cats buddy and Frenzie some attention…since ruby my dog has been hogging all the attention for 5 years.

  7. Rebecca says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your special four-legged family member. I laughed, I cried, and then cried again. Joey was clearly quite special, and equally fortunate to have you as her mom.

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