My cat died this morning. He was 17 years old, and dementia had taken hold to the point where he had started going to the toilet anywhere and everywhere. He was constantly confused and meowing plaintively for food whilst sitting right in front of a full bowl of the good stuff. My friend Jules, who is a mobile vet, came to our house and he passed away peacefully in my arms. We buried him in the backyard, with a big rock over the top of the grave to prevent his two sparring partners, our dogs, from facilitating a feline re-enactment of The Walking Dead.
God, I am so sad. I keep imaging the feeling of him brushing against my leg, and as I move around the kitchen my brain keeps reminding me to look out for him underfoot. I got Cosmo when he was 7 weeks old, the day after I moved into the house I’d just bought in 1997. It was the first time I’d ever lived alone, but I wasn’t alone for long because as soon as I bought home that ball of fluff who purred as loud as a jet engine, we were a pair. For seven years he was my only housemate. He slept on my bed every night, and sat waiting at the front gate for me to come home from work every afternoon. He was an enormous cat in his prime – as tall as my knee and weighing in at 10kgs – but he was more a lover than a fighter or hunter. He was a fixture in our little neck of the woods, where he wandered through gardens and climbed trees – everyone knew his name and the little boy across the road wanted to take Cosmo to ‘Pets to School’ day because Cosmo was the closest thing he had to a pet of his own. One day my next door neighbour found him curled up asleep on her bed, after he’d climbed in through the window. I was horrified when she came to tell me, and made straight for her house to retrieve him, but she told me to let him sleep and she’d send him home when he awoke.
When I met Dave, Cosmo’s life remained much the same, with just some minor adjustments to how much room he was allowed on our bed. The first and only time Cosmo ever hunted was on our wedding day. We were lying in bed on that Saturday morning when Cosmo appeared in the bedroom and dropped a dead Indian mynah on the floor. I decided it was a good omen (for us, not the bird) and the day did indeed go off without a hitch. After the wedding we moved house, to a much busier neighbourhood, so Dave built Cosmo a palatial cat playground where he could lie out in the sun and watch the world go by, but couldn’t wander into traffic or the jaws of the neighbours’ gigantic dogs. We then extended our pet family to include a tiny puppy called Myf, who soon had our gigantic cat just where she wanted him.
Then came Roy, the stray from the pound who’d been around the block enough times to realise that if he got along with the cat, everything would be just fine.
When I was six months pregnant with Hugh, Cosmo got sick and was diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) which is basically a cat version of HIV. I was told to expect the worst, but Cosmo bounced back after treatment and was symptom free for more than six years. During this time, he was also bitten by a paralysis tick and spent four days in intensive care, but he still has a few of his nine lives left, so he kicked on from that too.
When you have a 17 year old cat with FIV, you know that the end of the line can’t be too far away. My hope was that he’d do as my parents elderly cat did, and stroll into the lounge room, curl up in the middle of the rug, and fall quietly into a sleep from which he didn’t wake. But sadly that didn’t happen, and so I was forced to make the dreaded call. I have cried a lot, and I will probably cry a lot more; today I said goodbye to a dear companion and an unquestioning friend.
Rest in peace my beautiful Cosmo cat. My loud-purring, sometimes cranky, always arse-kicking mate. You were so very loved.
My dear friend Jules, from Creature Comforts Mobile Vets helped Cosmo to have such a dignified and peaceful death, and I will forever be grateful for her gentleness and compassion. If you live in Toowoomba or surrounds, I cannot recommend Jules highly enough. She is a great vet and a wonderful human being.
So sorry to hear that! We just had our 18 year old cat put to sleep, they really are a part of the family. Hugs to you!
Hi Jen, you’ll know how I feel. I’m so lucky to have had him, but so sad he’s gone.
So sorry Julie, I was almost crying reading this blog.
Thanks Alyson, I’ll miss the cranky old goat.
I’m so sorry for your loss. 😦
We had to make that tough call late last year with one of our much loved kitties. Even tougher, we have always been a two cat household, and I was quite determined it was going to stay that way. So a new little kitty came to her forever home just in time for Christmas.
Opening my heart to the new kitty helped me to better say goodbye to our much loved girl and to cement in my mind those precious moments I might have otherwise forgotten. She is still very much missed. The laughs and smiles the present two provide help to balance out the tears, and sometimes you get both at the same time.
I’m very glad to hear you had a vet friend who could come to your place and do this – I wish we had been able to do that and we certainly will plan to do that next time.
I am torn about another cat. We live on the suburban fringes, with a multitude of wildlife including snakes and paralysis ticks. A lot of temptation for a hunting puss and also a lot of danger for any pet. But I grew up with cats and have always had one, so I know I’ll feel lost without my boy.
Ours have been indoors only ever since I lost my second cat – Mark Owen – named after the Take That band member – to a snake bite. Mark Owen was meant to be an indoor cat but I lived in a house with 3 guys, one of whom was.. well.. not a nice guy. He deliberately let my cat out, two weeks later we found him. He had nearly made it home, was right next to the driveway in some long grass. I still have not quite got over that.
He did the same thing to the dog owned by another housemate – took it for a walk and lost it. Lucky that someone else found him and took him to the RSPCA. He – the housemate, not the dog – was soon invited to live elsewhere.
We lived on a main road for a long time as well, so indoor only was the best option for us and our kitties. 🙂 Cat towers, plenty of toys, laser light chasey for half an hour a few times a week..
If everyone in the household is on the same page it is relatively easy – it helps if you have a door in between entering the house and where the cat is. We come in through the laundry so we can close the outer door before we open the inner door.
There’s only two of us and we are committed to it – if people are coming around who are not so careful, tradespeople, forgetful family, the kitties get put behind a locked door. All the better for the kitties to explore all the scents left behind once we let them back out.
They do get to go in the yard under our supervision now that we live in the country but we are always within a short distance. 🙂
Even so, the day comes when you have to say goodbye, and it is always hard to do. 😦
Oh that is so sad about Mark Owen, people can be such horrible arseholes. It would be pretty much impossible for us to keep an indoor cat at our house – we have two small dogs who have access in and out of the house via a pet flap, so enabling them to have free reign in and outside whilst keeping a cat in would be a nightmare. We also have a 6 year old boy who finds it impossible to remember close a door – any door! – and a house with five separate doors (it’s a big house with an odd layout). Will have to think on it for a while – in any case, I am in no hurry as I am still very much grieving for my beautiful boy. Thanks for your kind words.
I’m sorry to hear about Cosmo – if you are ever ready check out Pound Cats – they rescue and re-home cats (all ages from young to older too). So many beautiful felines .
My rescue cat is such a character – jumps into the car to my lap – when I get home and tried to get on my lap when I was doing a ‘twinkle’ the other lol.
Got to love cats.
Hi Trish and thank you. One of our dogs is a pound rescue and he is the best dog in the world (my unbiased opinion LOL). Maybe we might rescue a cat one day, although I’m not sure about wanting company when I’m peeing LOL.