Recently we had to say goodbye to our beautiful cat, Cocoa. He was 10 years old, going on 11, and he was really quite special. The way he acted and the things he did were just so cute.
Firstly, he was generally quiet and patient. When he wanted to go outside, he wouldn’t loudly complain until someone gave him what he wanted. Instead, he would sit by the door and watch people nearby until they came towards him, then he would get up and meow, looking from them to the door, until they opened it for him. He loved to go outside and eat grass, and he came to recognize that when we put the harness on him, that meant he would get to go outside. He also liked to lick my feet after I’d been walking in the grass!
When I made my bed, he loved to “help” me by lying on the mattress while I put the sheets on over him. He would then attack things through the sheets until he got tired of it, and then he would slide out over the side. Often he would lie on my bed and sleep at my feet. He would often sit in my lap while I was working at my computer, especially when I had the electric blanket. Either he would start climbing up over the arm of my chair, or he would paw at my leg so I would let him up. Recently when he was recovering after his seizures, for a few days he spent almost all day lying in my lap while I worked.
Every Christmas we would get him a new pelt mouse as a present. The first thing he always did upon pulling it out of the wrapping was chew off the tail and eat it! He collected many mice that he’d carry around the house while meowing loudly. He would throw them high in the air and pounce on them, and he would lick them until they were soggy.
Cocoa didn’t like strangers. Whenever anyone came to our house for any reason, he would run off to hide. Gradually, the more people came, the more comfortable he became. Then instead of running and hiding, he would watch from a safe distance. The first time my boyfriend stayed over, Cocoa would just watch him from a distance. But over time, as my boyfriend visited more, Cocoa got more comfortable, and one time he walked up to him to sniff his hand, rub his face against it, and allow him to pet him. Then last year, one day while we were at dinner, Cocoa got up into my lap as he often did. But then he walked across to my boyfriend’s lap and lay down. I was astounded! Evidently, that was the moment that Cocoa finally considered him part of the family. Ever afterwards he treated him as such.
During his life Cocoa had quite a number of visits to the vet and a number of surgeries. Once he was hit by a car and broke his hip. Once he was attacked by dogs and broke both back legs. One time he came in from outside limping, and another vet visit revealed a broken leg. He always recovered well, and we joked about how many lives he’d used up.
But in this past year he started having what seemed to be neurological issues. We took him to the vet when he started limping and stumbling. She told us he’d probably had a stroke, and she gave him some medication. Soon he was home again, and he recovered quickly. Then a couple months ago he had a several seizures all in one day. Another vet visit and another treatment regimen, which seemed to work well. He didn’t have any more seizures, and soon he was back to normal again.
He was fine for a few months, until we noticed he was limping again. Back he went to the vet, where an X-ray showed a titanium pin in his leg from a previous surgery had slid up and was poking into the hip joint. So he had his fourth surgery to remove the pin, and it went well. But the day afterwards things took a turn for the worse.
The vet noticed that he wasn’t lifting his head, and she suspected he’d had another stroke. She kept him for two days to keep an eye on him and treat him. Then she sent him home for the weekend in the hopes that he would relax and recover better at home. We would bring him back on Monday. At home we set up a place for him to lie down and rest comfortably. We were instructed to give him a nutrition supplement several times during the day, which we did, against his will. But as time went on, his condition deteriorated. That Sunday afternoon we said goodbye to him, peacefully, at home surrounded by his family.
He was quite special to us, and quite unique. Soon we’ll look to adopt a pair of kittens so we can have a cat around again. They’ll fill the vacancy that he left, but they won’t replace him. No cat will ever be the same as Cocoa, and we’ll miss him.