Spitfire the Wonder Cat

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This morning Spitfire the Wonder Cat died on route to the vet. He’s been working through kidney problems for five years and heart problems for eight months but neither slowed him down much. He lived for 20 years, 5 months, 28 days and his personality never faltered. He always had lots to say, loved following us around the apartment, and slept every night on the bed. He has boated around the world, lived in 24 countries, and was the star in thousands of pictures. He’s met people all over the world and we frequently get email asking how he is doing. Despite his fame, he still always had time to watch a football game with us, listen to music, or enjoy a drink out on the balcony. What a great partner he has been for us over the last two decades.

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50 comments on “Spitfire the Wonder Cat
  1. Laurie Hayden says:

    We JUST heard this sad news yesterday… and are so sorry. Spitfire was indeed a wonder! How are you holding up? This is undoubtedly a huge adjustment. We are in Bellingham until April 1, then headed north. Would love to see you both and give you a hug.

    • Thanks so much Laurie. We miss him terribly, but are focusing on the great memories rather than the loss and are doing pretty well. Enjoy your summer cruise and let’s try to get together when you’re next in the Seattle area.

  2. Tim Morrow says:

    I am extremely heartbroken to read of Spitfire’s passing. My own cat had to be put down this week due to a stroke. It is quite heart rendering when a pet so close to you has departed. I hope you are recovering from your grieving. Have been following your adventures for somtime. Best Wishes for the future.

  3. Al Strachan says:

    So sorry to hear, loved every minute of his adventures, undoubtedly the best travelled cat of all time.

  4. Raffaele says:

    Without a doubt, the next boat won’t carry the name Dirona…

  5. Corey Quinn says:

    I’m deeply sorry to hear about his passing. When longtime pets pass, they leave a hole in the world where they used to be. It takes a long, long time for their absence to not be jarring.

  6. Andy Hathaway says:

    After reading your description of his personality I appreciate the appropriateness of his name Spitfire…

    Keep the name moving forward… it undoubtedly has great Kharma! We too had a cat on our boat for 20 years and it is a tremendous memory for ourselves and our two children. He used to sit on a chair in the galley with us when the family ate dinner. He wouldn’t look at us but would face the engine room door – there was no doubt it was his spot.

    Keep the spirit …

  7. Gary Cummings says:

    Sorry for your loss. My favorite has always been the one in the bathroom sink. What a life he had. Look forward to crossing paths with you someday.

    • Yeah, I like his approach where he sleeps in the sink in rough water as well. It’s a creative way to deal with rough water and, in the end, we learned from him and slept in a narrow walkway beside the bed in rough water. He was right in observing that being stable is the key to sleeping well in rough water.

  8. Stewart Kelly says:

    So sorry to learn of Spitfire’s passing to the great catnip fields of beyond. I hope the wonderful memories you and Jennifer have from the last twenty years give you a sense of peace and comfort. Spitfire wasn’t just a cat, he was truly family and a valued member of Dirona’s crew.

  9. Michael (N40 Coracle) says:

    James, Jennifer,
    I’m borrowing the words of John Masefield:
    ‘And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.’

  10. Kim Knuttila says:

    Aww. We’re very sorry for your loss! It is the toughest part of being a pet owner, but you guys were just super owners, and you know he had a great life!

  11. Paul says:

    James and Jennifer, my sympathies to you both on the loss of Spitfire. I can imagine what an unbelievably close friend and crewmate Spitfire was being on the boat together in the PNW and during your circumnavigation over the past 20 years, and our hearts go out to you. Sincere Sympathy, Paul and Heather.

  12. John Schieffelin says:

    Spitfire was an awesome cat and awesome companion. Lived an astonishingly long, rich life, doted on by both of you. Very sorry for your loss.

  13. Mark Gandy says:

    Spitfire became an important part of what I looked forward to in your updates. What a wonderful 20 years you all shared together, and with your readers. Thank you. The memories will overcome the grief of loss with rich warmth and peace that will last always. Peace.

  14. James and Jennifer. We are so sorry to learn that Spitfire has died. We enjoyed reading about his exploits as much as we enjoyed reading about your journey on Dirona. Jenny, our dog came to boating later in her life and she definitely enjoyed the journey. We miss her terribly, especially at a lovely anchorage.

    • Thanks for your thoughts and sorry for your loss as well. Jen and I take the approach of focusing on the great memories rather than the loss and we’re doing pretty well. Thanks for your note. We both appreciate it.

      • Thanks James. It will be 3 years this June since we said our goodbye to Jenny. We think of Jenny daily. If you check out Pam’s blog, you will see that Lilly the cat is our “purr monster” companion now. She enjoys life on the boat, particularly the activity when anchored or moored, but she does not like rough seas. We typically put her in her “shipping container” on difficult passages.

        You have mentioned you are considering another vessel. We look forward to a post on your thoughts!

        • Glad to hear things are going well for both of you. We’re always looking for new ways to adventure and new things to see and few approaches to seeing the world has the freedom and flexibility of cruising by boat so, yes, it’s quite likely we’ll be back in the future. For the immediate future we’re doing the trips we couldn’t or didn’t have the courage to do in a small boat: south pole, north pole, Switzerland, Amazon River, …

  15. Alex Goodwin says:

    To lose a beloved family member sucks – I’m sorry for your and Jennifer’s loss. From what I’ve seen on this blog over the years, Spitfire definitely broke the mould – ocean-travelling, compartment-inspecting, even occasionally swan-diving over the side.

    It seems like the cat-shaped hole in your lives that opened up two days ago will both hurt, and be difficult to fill – a tribute, if one is needed, to Spitfire’s uniqueness.

    • Well said and thanks for the note Alex.

    • Paul Cleary says:

      Reading about Spitfire all these years it was always apparent the love you gave him and the affection he reserved for the two of you. You gave the best possible life to your “spare cat” always putting him first. My wife always asked what Spitfire was up to when she noticed I was reading your blog. I am sure this is a hard time for time for y’all and hope that you have many good memories of him in the years to come.

  16. Knut & Christine says:

    What a pity, we just talked about him, glad that you made it back in time, love all the pics

    • We’re super sad to see him go but we’re lucky to have had him contributing to our lives for so very many years. He had Chronic Kidney Decease for 5 years but that made pretty much no difference to him. He had to eat special food but, generally, it didn’t slow him down (although he wasn’t in love with the food). Over the last 8 months he has had heart problems. A bit more medication and this did one slow him down a bit but his personality remained totally unchanged. Always just as friendly and always following us around the house and hanging out wherever we were. The night before he died he slept with us as he always does and purred when petted as usual. Thanks for the note from you both.

  17. i am sorry to hear that. Spitfire was one of the stable elements of your live and all your writing blog articles.


  18. Raffaele says:

    Very sorry for your loss. Be happy for having given a cat a wonderful life around the whole world.

  19. John Colombo says:

    Sorry for your Loss

  20. Jamie W says:

    I’m sorry to read this, J&J. He was a pretty cool cat, and I’m glad I got to meet him when you visited Auckland. That would be a few days short of ten years ago I think.

  21. William Domb says:

    So sorry to hear about Spitfire, a real family member

  22. Don McGarry says:

    James & Jennifer-
    I have been following your blog for many, many years. I am so sorry for your loss. Spitfire was an inspiration for us to bring our recent addition kittens aboard our new-to-us Selene Trawler later this month. We have had of two of our older cats pass in the last few years and know how difficult it is – especially for cats that have such a strong presence as Spitfire appeared to have in all of your pictures and videos.
    Take care and again so sorry to hear this news.
    ~ Don & Ariel

    • Yes, your right, Spitfire had a huge place in our lives. We miss him greatly but we’re super happy that we brought him onto the boat. It was beginning of a lot of great experiences. I hope your kittens love your Selene.

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