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.