Alas, there was only one way that our beloved Tsali could escape the pain of his arthritis, so we had to let him go. This is a tribute to a wonderful friend we had for 16 of his 17 years.

Tsali West
October 15, 1993 – November 1, 2010

Tsali West, of Berlin, Germany, passed away on November 1, 2010, at the age of 17 (or 87 in human years) after a painful struggle with severe arthritis. He was assisted in his transition to that Great Catnip Field in the Sky by Dr. Bridgette Ludwig-Kahya, who administered the drugs that set him free. During this process, he was lovingly attended by his parents, Jaton’ and Harvey West.

In addition to his parents, Tsali is survived by: his sister, Electra; his brother, Stephen and his wife, Steffi; a nephew, Noe; a niece, Milla (all of Berlin); his uncle, Michael, and his aunt, Shirley (both of Burke, Virginia, USA); and a host of friends throughout the United States as well as new neighbors here in Berlin. His older brothers Nigel and Max await him in the Great Catnip Field. Because of Electra’s current state (after 10 years of having remarkably little fur for a Devon Rex, she has begun to grow fur), she has not been told of her brother’s passing for fear that the growth may stop prematurely. Needless to say, she will need all the fur she can grow to withstand the harsh Berlin winters. Consequently, she has been told instead that Tsali decided to spend his remaining years pursuing a career in the circus and that, whenever his show is in town, she will be allowed to attend. As a former clinical social worker, Tsali’s mother recognizes that secrets are the foundation of family dysfunctions; however, she feels that the West family is entitled to be as dysfunctional as the next family, and feels that invoking the image of a circus can help the ‘fun’ in ‘dysfunctional.’ It should be noted that he would not be the first in the family to quit a well-paying job to go to work for the circus, so this is a credible explanation for Tsali’s absence.

Because of a birth defect, Tsali was unable to pursue the business of his birth family, which involved winning ribbons at the Cat Fanciers’ Association, and breeding more winners. Undeterred, he launched himself into a highly successful career as a family pet. He took a position with the West family when they lived in Fairfax, Virginia, and subsequently moved with them to Vienna, VA, and, more recently, to Berlin, Germany. The move to Berlin was not without complications – his father inadvertently (or at least allegedly inadvertently) left him in his cat carrier while it went through the TSA X-ray machine. An assessment of how this affected his arthritis – and his rapid deterioration after having reached Berlin – is currently under way. If a causal relationship is found, appropriate measures will be taken by his grieving mother.

In 1995, as a measure of his success in his career as a family pet, Tsali achieved the status of ‘The Onest One’ in the West family. The title had previously been held by his oldest brother, Nigel, but because of the high standards associated with the title, it had gone vacant for more than 20 years after Nigel passed away. Although there were other candidates through the years – Cecil, Lisa, Schwartz, and Max – they were unable to meet the rigorous criteria and tests associated with achieving the title. Tsali, also known as Mr. T., easily and quickly met all the requirements within just one year of beginning his career as a family pet.

When he assumed his position with the West family, his name had been ‘Moosh’, which reflected his affectionate nature. Although this was exactly the trait for which the Wests had selected him, they felt he deserved a more dignified name and subsequently named him after the Cherokee hero who sacrificed his life so that his people could remain in their lands in the Smokey Mountains.

Unlike his brother, Max (who could be remembered by the physical scars he left on everyone who dared come within paw’s reach), Tsali will be remembered for his dedication to being petted and his gentle cooperation and guidance to those who had the exquisite pleasure of petting him. At the time of his death, despite suffering from arthritis, he was in training for the Feline Olympics. His specialty was in the sleeping events, where his ability to sleep for extended periods of time was further highlighted by the unusual positions in which he could come under the spell of Morpheus. Jimmy the Greek’s odds strongly favored Tsali to win in both categories for the 2012 Feline Olympics. Although Tsali is no longer able to participate in the events, the Feline Olympic Committee has stated that the opening ceremonies will include an event to honor him. The committee has not yet determined the form this commemoration will take, but it may involve asking members of the audience to place their left legs over their right ears and close their eyes for 60 seconds as a salute to Tsali’s wonderful example to felines throughout the world.

In recognition of Tsali’s connection to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), individuals wishing to honor Tsali can make contributions in his memory to the Yogi Crowe Memorial Scholarship Fund, established to help support enrolled members of the EBCI pursue advanced degrees. Information on the fund can be found at Unfortunately, contributions cannot be made over the Internet, but must be made the old-fashioned way – by check – sent to the following address:

Yogi Crowe Memorial Scholarship Fund
P. O. Box 892
Cherokee, NC 28719