independent

Friday 20 September 2019

Cosmo still missed badly

Pete Wedderburn

COSMO THE ginger cat lived with two adults and their two children: he was seen as one of the family. The joke was always that the boy in the family, was the "first son" and Cosmo was the "fur son".

Cosmo originally came from an animal rescue centre: the son had been about to choose a black and white kitten when he saw a tiny ginger kitten meowing loudly, desperate to get his attention. He was immediately captivated, and it was clear at once that this was the real thing: a lifelong love affair between a boy and a cat.

Right from the start, Cosmo behaved more like a dog than a cat, joining in with family activities. He chased balls, played rugby and soccer and had games with the children in the park. He always came when he was called, bounding as he ran, ears back in the wind.

Cosmo learned the family schedule, and every afternoon, he waited for the children to come back from school so that he could play with them. He used to sit beneath a beech tree on the local green to await their arrival, and he'd leap out as the car arrived, running in front of the car to the usual parking spot. He'd then follow everyone into the house, dancing around their feet to show his joy at seeing them all.

He joined in with all sorts of family activities, both indoors and out. If someone went out to work in the garden or to chop wood, Cosmo was there beside them, diving into holes or climbing into the wood basket. If people were baking in the kitchen, Cosmo would be there too. He enjoyed watching flour being sieved, leaning forwards to watch in fascination. Nobody would have been surprised if a cat's whisker had turned up in a cake.

He also played games with the children, even having his own tiny flying helicopter toy that originally belonged to the boy. Cosmo downed it by pouncing on it as it flew past, and it became his. He used to swat it, then drag it around the floor, like a trophy. He loved water,even jumping into the bath before the daughter, happily swimming around in the warm water.

He enjoyed quiet times with the family too, sitting peacefully in the children's laps as they read books or lying beside them on their beds, purring. He especially loved having the pads of his paws separated and rubbed. He'd stay still for hours if someone was prepared to do this.

Cosmo didn't need to talk to communicate: body language was his speciality. He's rub himself against people's legs to ask for food, or a gentle paw would be reached out to pat a shoulder or a cheek if he wanted attention. Every time he was let in or out the house, he'd give a special little cry, like an exhalation: this became known as his ' Thank You'.

Like most cats, Cosmo loved to sleep. He used to lie on his back with his paws up, enjoying having his tummy or his chin tickled as he snoozed, on the sofa or on the rug in front of the fire. He sometimes went into a deep sleep, and he'd have dreams, moving his paws like a little boxer. At night time, he'd sleep on different people's beds, moving from the children to the adults in the middle of the night.

The family moved to Italy last year. Cosmo coped well with the journey, taking motorways, tunnels and hotels easily in his stride, remaining as relaxed as ever. He had to spend some time in a boarding cattery after arriving in Italy, and he made big impact there: the cattery owner said that he was the most intriguing cat she had ever looked after. She described him as sweet and gentle, with incredible personality and beauty. When someone said that Cosmo was almost human, the response, in Italian, was "meglio", which means "better".

When the new home in the Italian countryside was ready, Cosmo moved in, and he adapted at once. He stayed around the house mostly, occasionally going into the olive-grove garden to climb trees or to smell the breeze. He enjoyed the good weather, sitting beside the family as they ate their meals on the terrace.

Cosmo was always there for the children, and the parents felt that he taught them virtues like gentleness, patience and commitment. They learned about the importance of loving and being loved.

The end came swiftly. Cosmo was outside one evening on his own, when a large, aggressive dog belonging to a neighbour happened to wander past. The dog had a track record of killing cats, and Cosmo didn't have a chance. He was seized violently from behind, and it was over within seconds. His family suffered the horror of being told that there had been an incident, going outside to discover Cosmo's traumatised and lifeless body.

A month has passed since his death, and he's still missed immensely. The boy keeps a piece of his fur in his pocket when he goes to school. There's a continual sense of sadness: the family say they have lost a soul friend.

If you have an adored animal in your life, make sure that you enjoy every moment. This family was blessed by the presence of Cosmo, but tragically, dreams of a long and happy life together were not to be. Nothing good lasts forever apart from memories, and Cosmo has certainly provided plenty of those.

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