So Long Old Pal

A few days after Christmas, I said goodbye to Kitty. What can I say? Best Cat Ever. Every pet owner thinks that and they’re all right.

The days leading up to his passing were anxious because his condition was so uncertain. He stopped eating. The vet thought it might be pneumonia, but after an array of tests, they weren’t sure. The anxiety gave way to sadness as it seemed he might not make it. At a certain point, it became clear he had to be put down.

After that, I left town to see my girlfriend and family in LA. When I came home it wasn’t as sad as I thought it would be, just weird. I was so used to certain little cues and routines that didn’t exist anymore.

Then I made a video about him and felt REALLY SAD again. Throughout the editing process, I kept thinking, “Why am I doing this? Why am I putting my heart through the wringer?” But now I’m glad I did it. It’s my way of having a memorial service for him.

And honestly, it feels good to feel really sad, and then to let it go.

Kitty, always kitty

It was fifteen years ago that he was left on my friend’s doorstep. They found a little kitten in a cardboard box with two small bowls of food and water. They couldn’t keep him. I had reservations about taking him because, at the time, I was afraid of being responsible for a pet. My ex-wife said, “Just look at him. How could you not take him?”


I had been in the habit of calling all cats “Kitty,” so that became his name too. And he lived up to it, right to the end. He was playful…




He could be quite a clown…


And he was an epic, Guinness-book-of-world-records drooler:


He taught me a lot. I was always running around, trying to get things done, dreaming of future projects. He just lived, fully experiencing the life he had. One great thing about pets is that they show you how to live in the present moment.

They also teach you to be kind.


We had a good relationship. I worked from home, so we were together a lot. I’m grateful that we got to spend so much of our lives together.


Most of the time, we each did our own thing. I worked, he mostly slept.


And when I went on tour with Diego’s Umbrella, there were good people to feed and love him. My neighbors Mitchell and Elva were especially kind to him. A lot of the great photos and videos on FiddleHed were taken by Elva.

Kitty and FiddleHed

In my journey with FiddleHed, I started to pick up on the fact that people really liked seeing Kitty in the background of the video lessons.


We started to splice in little videos of him.


And then we created thumbnails with him…


And eventually, he was the direct inspiration for a strange new character named Kitty The Fiddling Kat (Kittyfiddler for short).

Big Gratitude

I’m grateful to you and all the FiddleHeds who have expressed their love for Kitty. I love you for loving him. Because you spoke up, he became an integral part of FiddleHed.

And in this way, he lives on…

Here’s a high-quality audio stream of the soundtrack tune:


Here’s some art I made for him:

Leave a Reply

29 responses to “So Long Old Pal

  1. I was very sorry to read that Kitty is no longer with you. It’s sad that he’s not here anymore, but his story is a very happy one. He was homeless, and you took him from your friend’s doorstep and gave him a wonderful, permanent, loving home. He had a great life because you. Thank you for sharing your beautiful tribute to him with us.

  2. I saw this in the corner of my eye over the past few days in emails and on my Facebook feed, but waited until today
    to read the full story and watch your video tribute because I knew it would be emotional. Then later, after practicing for a couple of hours, all I could think of was Kitty and the lessons Kitty has been teaching us all along; play with passion (drooling pics), play with attitude (campy/attitude pics), have fun playing (Kitty camping it up in the background of your lessons) and take breaks (lots of sleeping pics). Made lots of breakthroughs today and everyday thanks to you and your passion for teaching. Kitty will live on in the minds and hearts of a great many.

  3. It’s so hard to lose a close friend. You sure gave him an awesome life. Your video was sad but so cool because the bond between you and Kitty is so obvious. Thanks for sharing that. Sorry about your loss. Take care. And thanks for the great lessons on fiddle…

  4. My heart goes out to you in the loss of Kitty. He had become a part of my life in a small way as I watched for him in each of your videos. I thank you for sharing Kitty along with your amazing talents and love of music.

  5. Jason, I am so sorry for your loss. Our pets provide such a warm and happy spot in our lives. Losing one is painful. Your tribute was beautiful. I will still look forward to seeing Kitty in your wonderful videos, as I have been viewing them repeatedly. Thank you so much for sharing your talents and love with us.

  6. Very sorry to hear about Kitty, Jason. I always enjoyed seeing him in your videos. He’ll live on in them too of course, which is nice. Our fella curls up in the fiddle case when I’m practising. (I took a picture of him and use it as my Facebook profile pic). I don’t mind except it means the case is always full of cat hairs. We run a B&B and I always pretend to the guests that I think he’s a pain in the neck. Which he is sometimes, but it would be hard to imagine life without him. Thanks for all the videos. I only took up the fiddle a few years ago, at the age of 67. I’m not very good, but that’s OK. I love it, and it’s already given me so much enjoyment. Last year I went across the border to Burlington, Vermont to see my favourite fiddle player, Martin Hayes, from County Clare. A small venue, maybe about 50 people, and a workshop the next morning in the local music store. You’ve been a big part of the pleasure I’ve got from all this, and at least writing to you about Kitty is a chance to let you know how much I appreciate it.

    1. Yes, it was sad. But all loss is sad…As a veterinarian, I truly understand since I accompany my clients in their losses almost daily.
      It is sad but also a privilege to be able to hold their hands and hopefully ease their pain.
      I will miss Kitty in your videos…I starting looking for him every time I viewed your lessons.
      I’m sure heaven has a “Kitty” door. With sympathy.

  7. Hello Jason,
    Although I’m a fairly new student of yours, I feel like I lost a member of my own family. Thank you for sharing your life and love a very special cat and part of the Fiddlehed family. I’m so sorry for your loss!!!!
    Warmest regards,
    Steven from Long Island New York

  8. Very sad to hear about Kitty, Jason. In your videos, I was always looking to see whether he would come through your door. And if he didn’t, the videos always had that thumbnail! Your memorial video was very nice! I enjoyed seeing the Life of Kitty….. Best, Cindy

  9. Jason,I’m so sad for you and Kitty and your video made me cry…I always lived with lot of cats in my house and I understand your sadness…When there is one who dies I try to console myself remembering all the good time we had together and I tell myself I did everything to make him happy…With the time your pain will be less hard but you’ll never forget Kitty…We’ll miss him,us all the Fiddlehed’s fans who use to see him in your videos…Courage Jason…

  10. Sorry to hear about the loss of Kitty. He brought so much joy to my daughters life while she was learning the fundamentals of fiddling. She always waited until the very end of the video to see him purring or barging through his pet door. She always had a big smile on her face after she saw him. Now that she is an accomplished fiddle player and winning competions, perhaps there is a part of him inside of her that lives on. My sincerest sympathies. Jim

  11. Jason,
    I’m so sorry for your loss, having had two awesome black and white “kitties” I loved seeing Kitty everywhere on FiddleHed…your “memorial” was beautiful the song you wrote beautiful and I loved the purring in the end….can’t help feeling sad knowing what it’s like to lose a buddy.
    Though, it feels good to be sad, let go and let be ?

  12. Jason, I am deeply sad for your loss. Sometimes cats can feel like children to us. I know you were so close with Kitty. That is one reason I subscribed to your lessons, because I saw how kind you were to include a Kitty. We are all connected by the love of our pets. Just know you are supported through this sad time in your life. Peace ☮️

  13. Jason,

    RIP Kitty. We got a new cat upon moving to Va. 20 years ago. Her name, also, Kitty. We lost her about 5 years ago. I have two cats now, and a dog. None of them really cared for my “new” music at first; but they’re OK with it now. Sorry for your loss.


  14. Sorry to hear about your loss. Jason. It is hard to lose a faithful pet. Three years ago, I lost my first dog, Rosie. We had her for almost 15 years, and when we had to put her down, I mourned and cried more than I have ever done for a fellow human being. I think the death of a pet strikes us to the core because of their innocence and unconditional love for us. Glad you expressed yourself in your reminiscences, music, pictures and drawings of your friend.

  15. I’ve only just found you (and Kitty) here on the internets, but could plainly see how special your Kitty is to you ❤️ I’m so sorry for your loss. Clearly his spirit will still be present to many, thanks for being a good human for this sweet cat!