Moe Haala: Obituary for the Best Cat

Moe Haala (nee Kiekhoefer) unexpectedly went to his eternal rest on Wednesday, February 8. He is survived by his best friend, Laura Haala, the warm lap he mostly tolerated, Cory Haala, and the little sister who loved to squeal, grab him, and make him purr, Noelle Haala.

Moe was born “Chubs” on the land of Tod and Max Kiekhoefer in New Richmond, Wisconsin, sometime in March 2005. Tod and Max brought Chubs into their painting studio, recalling that among the barn cats he was the “nice cat.” It was a reputation that stuck with Moe all his life.

Chubs adopted Laura Kiekhoefer and her parents, Rex and Diane, at Christmas 2005. He took the name “Moe”, a compromise when “Geronimo” was deemed too unwieldy. Over the next twelve and a half years, he lived in Maplewood, Minnesota, with the Kiekhoefers. He loved Laura, Diane, and Rex, and tolerated a series of interloping dogs: the late terrier Missy, the late corgi Rugby, the re-adopted border terrier Jasper, and the reigning Cavalier spaniel Milo. When Laura returned from college first in 2013 and again in 2016, Moe became a fixture on her bed, eventually sleeping under the covers with her.

In April 2018, Moe again adopted a human, Cory Haala, when Laura married Cory with Moe’s blessing. The three moved into a new home in Crystal, Minnesota, where Moe had the run of his very own house. He shocked observers by (likely) killing a mouse at the ripe old age of 13, delivering another still-living one to Cory, and playing with a third as it skittered across the kitchen floor. Moe loved curling up under the covers with Laura, perching on Cory’s knee as he laid on the couch, and occasionally entertaining a series of toys, from a jingling pretzel to a catnip-stuffed peacock to a beaver on a string.

Advancing in years, Moe appreciated the simple things in life. He loved the family cabin in Spooner, Wisconsin, where he would while away every moment on the screened-in porch, sleeping on the rocker and listening to the hummingbirds. On the drives to and from Spooner, Moe sat dutifully on Laura’s lap to the shock and delight of many a drive-thru attendant, including one at the St. Croix Falls McDonalds who “want[ed] to slap butter his paws and eat them!” But Moe reveled in any sniff of the Great Outdoors: when Cory and Laura built him a human-sized deck onto their home in May 2020, Moe became a regular on the assorted patio furniture. His attempts to descend the stairs were met with swift rebukes, but he on occasion tasted the sweet grass of the backyard and was a fixture, wrapped in a blanket and in Cory’s arms, at bonfires from Crystal to Spooner.

Diagnosed in 2021 with early-stage kidney disease, Moe carried on with business as usual, enjoying longer naps on his blankets and forcing Cory to change his litter more often while still loving the pieces of salmon and chicken both Laura and Cory would feed him from their plates. He sternly rebuked both for going back to work as COVID subsided, but took joy in waiting for them to come home while perched on his blanket at the edge of the bed the three of them shared. Moe welcomed all visitors into his home, often demanding they pet him immediately upon arrival and present him a lap on which he could sit. Many of his new friends recalled that while they weren’t a “cat person,” Moe was their “favorite cat” or “like a dog.” While Moe took exception to the latter slur, he loved all his new friends equally.

Of course he loved Laura most of all, each night waiting on his blanket for her to go to bed, then slowly stretching and walking toward her, waiting for her to lift the covers, and crawling under them with her.

Sometime during the day on February 8, 2023, Moe had what was likely a stroke. With the assistance of the wonderful and supportive staff at Bass Lake Pet Hospital, Moe passed peacefully in the arms of his best friend, Laura, surrounded by his family of Cory and Noelle. He will be cremated and his ashes will be stored at home and at the cabin he so loved. 

Moe was preceded in death by Missy and Rugby and is survived by Laura (Cory, daughter Noelle), Rex and Diane (Milo), and Tod and Max. He leaves behind three blankets: Fawn, Sherpie, and Aztec, all of which he slept on at various and very specific points of the day. He was a friend to all, a loving companion who made the previously pet-less author of this obituary into a cat person, and his best friend Laura’s world. In lieu of flowers, please give your own pets an extra snuggle or hug from Cory, Laura, Noelle, and Moe. He will be dearly missed.

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