Merlin the Cat August 2009 – June 2022 | Obituaries

Merlin the Cat August 2009 – June 2022

Beloved by his family and community, Merlin the cat died peacefully of natural causes on June 21. He was not your ordinary cat. He was an extraordinary cat.

True to his name, Merlin was a wizard at crashing backyard parties, slipping into neighbors’ homes unseen, leaping at lightning speed into the cars of visitors and healthcare workers going to and from the Winchester Rehabilitation Center and even sneaking into the facility itself — his favorite place during the last year and a half of his life.

Merlin had an adventurous life. He was rescued as a kitten from a sock drawer and adopted by the Baker family in 2009. He quickly learned how to pull the lever-handle door knobs to escape the confines of home and roam his neighborhood at will. It was his domain.

Moving to Old Town Winchester on Christmas Eve 2020, Merlin found his feline paradise — people who would stop to give him a scratch behind his ears and share their food to assuage his pitiful cries. He was a master con artist. His loving owners received hundreds of calls from stores on the pedestrian mall, Cork Street Tavern, Bonnie Blue and from concerned folks who thought Merlin was lost, neglected or hungry — all while Merlin was dining at home on albacore tuna and sleeping on a king- sized bed with his own tiny fan to keep him comfortable.

Merlin was loved — especially by the employees of Blue Ridge Hospice and Valley Health at the Winchester Rehabilitation Center. He learned how to trip the automatic doors to get inside and made fast friends with the jovial, cat-loving security guard. Various administration offices would take turns hosting Merlin’s cat condo (a comfy box with his own blanket and toys). Employees posted pictures and funny stories on Merlin’s Facebook fan page and made him their honorary mascot.

Even in the last days of his life, Merlin faithfully reported for work every morning at dawn and came home every evening for dinner. He never talked about his work, but there’s no doubt it gave him tremendous purpose and fulfillment. He had a special knack for sensing when someone needed cheering up and was quick to offer a soft purr and nuzzle to do the trick. “The little fella gave us a lot of joy during a tough time,” remarked one of Merlin’s Cork Street friends.

Notice of Merlin’s death on his Facebook page elicited dozens of congratulations and sweet memories — mostly funny. A special memorial service for Merlin will be held on Tuesday, July 19 at 4:30 pm in the garden of the Winchester Rehabilitation Center at 333 West Cork Street. All are invited to swap Merlin stories and celebrate the life of an extraordinary cat.

If people feel so moved, please make a donation in Merlin’s name to the Community Cat Alliance, PO Box 2611, Winchester, VA 22604; https://communitycat



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