Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cosmo: 1996-2012

This is a post that I hoped I would never have to write. I know it sounds pretty dumb for someone who obviously knows that no creature lives forever, but I always hoped that my Cosmo would. I half-joked about taking his DNA and cloning him, but knew that would diminish his uniqueness, even though the thought of having him around for the rest of my life was so appealing.

Almost 16 years to the date, a sign was posted on the Fishers Island Ferry offering kittens free to a good home. The sign mentioned calico kittens, and since I've always wanted a calico cat, Michelle & I figured this was our chance to bring some four-legged friends into our home.

There was no calico cat, but there was a grey tiger, a brown tiger (who I assume the owner's thought was calico) & a tuxedo cat. We settled on the grey tiger and the tuxedo and rescued them from a dingy (cockroaches!) house in a sketchy part of New London. (Apparently the mom had survived being hit by a car a couple of times and I believe the house is no longer standing. It was torn down to make way for a failed oceanography attraction.)

It became clear right away that he was a special boy. Always the ham, always had to be the center of attention. He was the softest cat I've ever had the pleasure of petting and he loved to be petted. All the time, all over. He loved his belly rubbed & he even liked it when you rubbed his paws, going so far as to spread his toes apart so you could massage his pads for him.

Every day when I would come home, we had a ritual. He would greet me at the door and I would immediately drop whatever I had in my hands, sit on the floor and give him as much love as he wanted, for as long as he wanted. Maybe this is why we bonded, who knows. All I know is that I looked forward to that moment every single day and based on the fact that he was always waiting for me, he looked forward to it too.

He loved everyone. Obviously, he was close to his sister Penny, but one thing he loved almost too much was that Miami Dolphins blanket that is shown in a lot of photos. He was incapable of laying on the blanket without kneading it and sucking it. I know it's normal for cats to knead on blankets & clothes, but he went the extra step of sucking on the blanket so much that he eventually removed the majority of the material on it. Who knows how much of that remained in his stomach over the years! He eventually outgrew that, but not before going through two different blankets.

Another thing he loved to do was to get up as high as possible. On top of cabinets, on top of the refrigerator, on top of the entertainment center. If it was high, he'd get up there. One place he enjoyed climbing on top of were doors. He would let out a yelp to let you know he was making the jump and then he would leap from a dresser or counter & launch himself on top of a door.

One time, this activity had a painful result for Cosmo. Either on the way up or the way down, he managed to rip a claw right out of his paw. There was a lot of blood and it was a mess for a few days, but he eventually healed.

Cosmo had several health issues over the years, some scarier than others. A biggie was a urinary tract infection & blockage that thankfully was cured by a diet of expensive prescription cat food. Thankfully, he liked the food and ate it with no problems. Just a few years ago, he had an issue with his tail that resulted in the tail being shaved and encased in plastic, but not amputation, which one crazy vet had suggested.

He had a unique way of laying down that I've only seen another cat do one time. I always referred to it as "polar bearing", as they are the only other animals I've ever seen who laid like that. He would lay on his stomach with his front paws tucked under, but with the elbows out. He was such a quirky fellow.

When we moved out of the condo into the house, Cosmo found a new favorite pastime, sneaking out. He would sit near the door and whenever it opened, either from inside or outside, he would dash out. He never went too far, but usually he would jump off the deck forcing a human to chase him down.

Only one time did he sneak out unnoticed. Of course I remember the day. Friday, September 4, 1998. The Friday before the NFL season kicked off. I had received a package and during the delivery, the side door remained ajar and Cosmo snuck out. It was about an hour before I realized he was missing. He turned up eventually, but not after a few panicked phone calls. I was worried sick that he was gone. He received a good bath that night, which he tolerated like a champ. He loved to be wrapped in a towel and dried off!

Another reason he endeared himself to me was how much he loved Payton. The day she first came home from the hospital, he was right there to stick his nose in the car seat to introduce himself. (Granted, he did that for EVERYONE that came into the house. He had to be the center of attention and if you didn't say hi to him, he made a point to say hi to you.)

There were two exceptions to the "I love everyone!" rule Cosmo lived by; veterinarians and smokers. He hated any trip to the vet and if you had the smell of a nasty cigarette on your hands, your hand would get attacked. All that beauty & brains too. :)

Obviously his love for Payton was returned tenfold from her. She loved him dearly and knew from an early age how special he was. He watched over her for me in my absence (putting her to bed, making sure she was asleep) and Payton also watched over Cosmo for me. This is just one of the many ways she has made me proud over the years.

The most excitement he ever had in one day? Payton's 5th birthday party. A several hour stretch of young children and adults parading into the house to use the bathroom meant an endless supply of people to say hi to and solicit love from. I had never seen him so tired as he was after everyone left. He passed out on the couch and would not wake up for anything. (next picture) It was adorable.

I suppose what I'm trying to say in this rambling post of remembrance is that Cosmo was quite simply the greatest cat of all-time. I mean no disrespect to any of the amazing cats that were part of my life before Cosmo or even now, and there are some great ones. They are all special to me. Anyone who knows me knows that I get attached to cats (dogs & animals in general) just after spending a few minutes with them. I'm a big softie. But ever since Cosmo was a tiny kitten, I knew that he was extra-special. Maybe we had a special bond, who knows. I can't explain it. All I know is that I love that crazy little ball of fur more than he or anyone could possibly realize.

The past few days have been difficult, but as expected, it's getting easier to deal with. What makes it easier to deal with is that he may be gone physically, but I know that he will never, ever be gone from my thoughts or memories. I have so many wonderful pictures (I will be putting together a slideshow to incorporate the many photos that didn't make this post.) and a lifetime's worth of memories that will never be far from my mind.

I really don't want to end this on a mushy note, so I'll just say this. I love you Cosmo Kramer. You were the best cat anyone could ever have wanted and then some. Thank you for bringing me a lifetime of happiness in your 16 years. You truly were The Best.