Mountain Observatory Mourns the Loss of Beloved Cat Who Lived There for 12 Years

Marty the Cat Mascot for the Mount Washington Observatory

Photo courtesy of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory

According to the meteorologists who work at the Mount Washington Observatory, they experience some of the world’s worst weather. Situated 6,288 feet above sea level, the mountain in northern New Hampshire is the highest point in the Northeast. The observatory collects weather data every hour of the day, and their work is especially important during the cold winter months; interns and meteorologists are at the summit for a week straight to make sure instruments are de-iced and functional.

Housed inside a concrete building that’s embedded into the mountain, the relative isolation can take its toll on the people there. That’s where Marty the black Maine Coon came in. Marty, who took over the position as the “Mount Washington Mascot” in 2008, was a beloved kitty who lived inside the observatory before passing away of an “unexpected illness” in November 2020. He was about 14 (or 15) years old and was a calming connection to the outside world as workers braved their long shifts. Marty would sit in their laps while they worked or would offer a reminder of his presence by rubbing against their legs. But in a typical cat fashion, Marty could be cuddly one week and aloof the next.

While some cat companions arrive at an unusual location by chance, Marty was hand-picked as the Mount Washington Mascot. His tenure was part of a long tradition of felines in the observatory, dating back to the 1930s, when it was first established. But his appointment had a twist. The observatory held a first-ever “Mascot Primary” in 2008, and Marty was picked as the “Top Cat” in an election that saw over 8,000 votes cast. He was rescued from the Conway Area Humane Society.

It’s unclear when Marty’s successor will be selected, but what is clear is that they'll have big paws to fill.

Cats play an important role at the Mount Washington Observatory.

Marty the Cat Mascot for the Mount Washington Observatory

Photo courtesy of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory

Marty the treasured cat mascot kept the observatory's meteorologists and interns company from 2008 until his untimely death in November 2020.

Marty the Cat Mascot for the Mount Washington Observatory

Photo courtesy of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory

Marty the Cat Mascot for the Mount Washington Observatory

Photo courtesy of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory

Marty the Cat Mascot for the Mount Washington Observatory

Photo courtesy of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory

The beloved cat kept people company while they worked—sometimes on their laps.

Marty the Cat Mascot for the Mount Washington Observatory

Photo courtesy of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory

Marty the Cat Mascot for the Mount Washington Observatory

Photo courtesy of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory

Marty the Cat Mascot for the Mount Washington Observatory

Photo courtesy of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory

Marty the Cat Mascot for the Mount Washington Observatory

Photo courtesy of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory

Marty was chosen as the mascot in the 2008 Mount Washington Mascot Primary.

Mount Washington Observatory: Website | Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Mount Washington Observatory.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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