“Thank you for all your silliness, snuggles, and companionship,” the observatory writes.

By Madison Pincombe
November 11, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Mount Washington Observatory

Marty, a black Maine coon who served as the official mascot for Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire for 12 years, died Saturday.

“It is with an incredibly heavy heart that we have to share the news of Marty’s passing due to an unforeseen illness,” Summit Operations Manager Rebecca Scholand said in a news release. Marty was beloved by Mount Washington Observatory staff, Mount Washington State Park staff and thousands of visitors from around the world.

Known as the highest point in the Northeast (at 6,288 feet above sea level), Mount Washington is home to a nonprofit observatory that detects and records weather data. With treacherous winters that set wind speed records, teams of workers hunker down in the large concrete structure for a week at a time. 

Ever since the observatory was established in 1932, cats have kept the observatory’s weather staff company while also keeping the rodent problem under control.

Over time, the summit cats have gained notoriety, becoming mascots of the observatory (complete with their own merchandise). Scholand told The New York Times that cats “retire” from the observatory when they start to get older.

Marty’s predecessor Nin showed up as a stray in 1995 and retired in 2007. After Nin’s retirement, an official election was held for the next summit cat. The Conway Area Humane Society proposed three candidates that were in its care that its staff felt would be suitable. According to a news release, Marty won the 2008 election by more than 8,000 votes.

“As a past observer who lived on the summit for four years, I can tell you Marty was a special companion, entertainer and so incredibly loved by observers and state park staff and will be sadly missed,” Scholand said in the release.

The observatory planned to retire Marty in 2021, so plans are already underway to identify his successor. The release reassures that the summit feline tradition will continue on after his passing.

“To Marty the Cat, thank you for all your silliness, snuggles, and companionship,” the observatory writes in an Instagram post