Eulogy for a loved pet – Cosmo – RIP 7/2/2012
Some blogs are written for other people. Some are just written purely for myself (and Jackie). This is one from that latter category. You are more than welcome to read it, and if it makes you smile, or helps you get over a similar experience, all the better. If you are one of those people that go “It’s just a cat, get over it.”, you may want to skip this blog, it’s gonna get a bit sappy. You’ve been warned…
Last Monday, July 2nd, Jackie & I lost our little buddy – Cosmo D. Cat Hannon. Old age, ear tumors and the first real heat wave of Summer 2012 proved to be too much for him, and we had to take him to the vet to be euthanized. He was in pretty bad shape, and it was the right decision – even though it was one of the most horrible days in our lives.
I don’t really want to dwell on the sadder aspects of Cosmo’s final days in this blog. If I forget the sadder parts of this story later in life, I’m kinda fine with it. But I just want this to make me remember the good times with as much clarity as I have now.
Shortly after his passing, I went to post a picture of him on Facebook in honor of him. But when I went to look for the “right” picture, I found a whole lotta other pictures of him that I loved. I’m not going to lie, I went a little (ok, a lot) overboard. I eventually found and posted 34 or so pictures of Cosmo that Jackie & I loved. (See the bottom of this blog and my Facebook link).
While looking thru the pictures, I found a great benefit – it gave me something to do as opposed to sitting at home thinking about how horrible I felt. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that in finding all these pictures of Cosmo throughout his life, it made me really happy that we had him for all those years.
So, I just wanted to take some space and tell Cosmo’s history, and some of his highlights over the years.
Back in mid-1996, Jackie and I had been married and living in our house for 3 years… And the unthinkable happened – we had our first mouse. Jackie was (is?) petrified of the varmints, so she didn’t appreciate it one bit. People told us that the best way to keep mice away is to get a cat – Well duh, that’s a bit of common sense, but as we were talking about getting a pet anyway, it put things in motion…
So we went to the Newark animal shelter the next day and picked up a kitten. She was 8 weeks old and so cute that we called her “Precious.” We got her home and she was a bit timid, but we figured she would get used to us… She didn’t eat the first night which the shelter vet said was normal, but she didn’t eat the next day either. We called the shelter and they said to hold off a bit – that when she got really hungry, she’d eat… Another whole day went by and she didn’t eat, so we took her to the shelter vet who pulled out “special” food (Its been 16 years, and I long forgot the name)
As soon as the vet put the food down, Precious scarfed down the entire plate. OK, cool, we just needed the right food… So we took a few cans of this special food, and went home… And tried to feed her the next morning as per vets orders… And still no eating.. Called them back, and they said to wait another day to see if Precious would eat.
Next day, still no eating so we took her to the vet. The same thing happened – same food we tried to feed her, and she scarfed it down… The vet gave us something else to try (forgot what) and we took her home. Same thing – no eating…
So Jackie and I made the decision to take her back to the shelter. We didn’t want to be responsible for starving this poor kitten to death… It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right thing, and Precious was pretty cute, so she’d have no problem being re-adopted…
We never saw (or heard about) Precious ever again, but it really shook Jackie’s & my confidence in being a pet owner…
As a postscript, we caught that damn mouse that caused this whole sequence of events.
Flash forward to December 1996, and we had given up considering having a pet. I was working in the city, and taking the train home with my good friend Leon – who also worked in the city and lived in the next town to us. Jackie would pick us up at the train, and we’d drop him off at his sister’s house, and then head home. Many nights we would just hang and BS outside of the house before we left.
This one night in December was pretty cold, and it was even snowing a bit – but that never stopped us from standing out there yapping. All of a sudden, out of the darkness came this little creature. Jackie saw it first and screamed because she thought it was a huge rat. I looked over and thought it was a baby raccoon. Leon the Brave went over and picked it up.
And it was this adorable creature you see below
He was just a kitten – maybe 6 to 8 weeks old. We looked around to see if his mom or siblings were around, but he was by himself. Leon the Rescuer decided to take him inside because he probably wouldn’t have survived the cold snowy night otherwise.
Leon, and his sister Anna (Cosmo’s first Mom) took care of the little guy for a day or two, and then started bugging Jackie & I to take him. Leon knew about our confidence problem after Precious, but didn’t care. I told them that I didn’t want to get attached to the little bugger and then find out its some little kid’s cat who was devastated by the loss of his/her new kitten. Leon and Anna said that they would put up posters, and if nobody responded, Jackie & I would take the cat.
Cosmo becomes a Hannon
After a week or so (where I suspiciously didn’t see any posters around town), Jackie & I took possession of the little cat “temporarily”. We had to make sure he would eat for us… We needn’t have worried, that little kitten was a bottomless pit of food… He was always hungry and ready to eat… And after a few minutes in our house, he became “permanent”….
We took him to the vet (Dr. Schaefer in Scotch Plains, NJ – highly recommended) shortly after to have him checked out. Doc found out that he had worms from eating a bird or mouse while on the street – but they went away quickly with some meds. For the most part, he was fine – Doc even said that he was one of the strongest kittens he had seen. He even suggested that this little guy had some bobcat in his lineage (which led me to research a breed called the Pixie-Bob. He had a long tail, but the rest of the description of this breed fits in with some of Cosmo’s quirky, but loveable personality.
And thus, we began our career as Cosmo’s parents…
I never thought naming a cat would be so difficult. This poor little cat went thru two weeks of being named “Fuzzball” before we settled on a real name. As much as I tried, Jackie just didn’t want his name to be FuzzBall. So we waited for his name to come naturally to us…
One day, my childhood friend Raymond was over, and we were talking about how much this cat looked like Raymond’s old cat “Gizmo” – who was a pretty cool cat. So we were joking about naming him Gizmo II or Gizmo Jr. Jackie would have none of that, but we decided we had to name him soon or we were going with “Fuzzball” – So the three of us sat down and thought…
Cosmo was having a particularly nutty day as kittens tend to have – running around seeing invisible ghosts and then tearing ass in the opposite direction every few seconds… I don’t remember who said it, but someone said he was a cosmo-nut… Which sparked something… And with the closeness of Cosmo to Gizmo and his nutty little personality, it just fit…. And the fuzzball became “Cosmo” – years later after loving the Homey D. Clown sketch on “In Living Color”, we add the D. Cat part as a goof that just kinda stuck….
As an aside: We used to love watching “Seinfeld”, so people always thought we named Cosmo after “Cosmo” Kramer on the show… But it was kinda the opposite – There was an argument that day about not wanting to name him Cosmo because of the Kramer character. Eventually we all agreed that Cosmo was the perfect name for him and if people associated it with Seinfeld, it was ok – we knew better…
As Cosmo grew, he got himself into a bunch more adventures. The years have blended together, so I may have the time frame off, but the stories will live on in legend… I could probably go on for many more pages, but here’s a small sampling:
The first Thanksgiving that we had Cosmo, Jackie and her Mom (who was staying over for the holiday) were preparing a kickass Turkey with all the trimmings. We didn’t notice it at first, but as the smell of the food increased, so did Cosmo’s erratic behavior. As expected, he was in the kitchen a lot – but soon he was meowing up a storm. Jackie was at the sink seasoning the turkey (or something), when all of a sudden she felt her pants coming down. And I was upstairs.
It seems the turkey smell got to the little Fuzzball and he wanted it NOW… So he decided to try to climb Jackie’s leg to get to it. But her sweatpants were loose, and they just came down. Undeterred, he sank his little claws into Jackie’s leg to make another attempt to climb up, but her scream of pain scared him off.
When I heard the scream and ran down to see what was happening, Jackie & her Mom told me and I saw the little clawmark on Jackie’s leg, and I burst out laughing. It was one of the funniest things I had ever heard and the legend of Cosmo’s Turkey Lust was born!
Cosmo Becomes a Star
I sent one of the pictures I took of Cosmo into the “365 Cats a Year” Calendar for 2000, and it was accepted! So our cat was now a Star!!!
(its not easy to take a picture of a page inside a calendar thats 12 years old and you dont want to break the spine)
As a quick aside to this, after digging up the calendar to find the year, I realized that I was wrong about the picture I thought it was… For years I always thought it was this picture: (which I’ve always considered one of my best pictures)
The Slash Escape
There was only one time in the almost-16 years we had him, that I got mad at Cosmo – and that was when he slashed my hand open.
During the warmer months, he liked to make a break for freedom when the front door was opened. He had free reign of the backyard deck which was enclosed, but he always made a run for the front door when he could. 99% of the time we stopped him, but every so often, he’d catch us off guard and get out.
Now since he was an indoor cat, the second he made it out the front door, he panicked and became a different cat. He’d jump into the area behind the bushes and not want to come out. We’d try to coax him out with treats, his favorite toy, or his favorite food – turkey! More often than not it was a patience game that Jackie was a LOT better at than I was.
One particular time, he got out at a bad time where I had to rush off for something. So when he went into the bushes, I went in after him. And as panicking cats are known to do, he hissed at me. Being that this was a gentle cat normally, I ignored his threat and kept going and reached in. And the little bugger slashed at me – and got my hand — causing a pretty nasty cut. Which didn’t help my mood at the time.
I ran inside to get the fishing net to capture him like I saw on Planet of the Apes when I was younger, and luckily Jackie was there. She realized what happened and calmed me down and took me to the bathroom to dress my wound. Then when I was ok, she went outside with that calm teacher patience, and coaxed Cosmo inside.
Thinking back all these years later, I Still smile as I remember him coming in and start brushing up against my leg as if to say he was sorry. But I wasn’t having any of that… I showed him my bandaged hand and turned my back on him. Yes, I was fighting with my cat, but I was mad
For over an hour he sat near me – hoping I would acknowledge him. But I wouldn’t. At one point, I looked over at him to see what he was doing and he looked at me and opened his mouth but didn’t make any noise. And it broke my heart, so I reached down and picked him up and gave him a gentle lecture while petting him, and we were cool after that. I just made sure to be more careful opening the door in the future, and let Jackie get him if he actually did make it out.
The Snow Escape
Another time he escaped, but had a much different experience…
It was a cold winter day and there was at least a foot of snow on the ground from a recent snowfall. Leon was over, and we were running around bringing stuff into the house. We didn’t actually notice that Cosmo escaped out the front door and just went about with whatever we were immersed in.
An hour or so later, we were about to go out to the car to get something and there’s this cat on our front stoop in one of the few places that there wasn’t snow or ice. He was just looking out at the cars. He looked an awful lot like Cosmo, but he was in the house sleeping – right??
So we went around the house looking for him and couldn’t find him anywhere. So we went to look at the cat again, and this time he was facing the door with the most insulted face I’d ever see on a cat. We opened the door and he strutted in completely ignoring us and walked over to the radiator to warm up…
It took him a while to forgive us for (a) not noticing that he snuck out and (b) making him freeze his butt off out there… But with each offering of food or treats, he forgave us a little bit more. And he stopped trying to escape in the winter LOL
One year we had another mouse in the house one chilly evening. I found out about it after seeing Jackie scream from the couch after seeing it. She got up and ran into the dining room and literally stood on a chair in fright. Cosmo tore ass away to a safe spot after hearing Jackie’s blood curdling yell…
I did what any husband would do… I ran upstairs and grabbed the video camera as I was just starting to make and edit small films with my new Apple Mac. I came downstairs with a fresh tape filming Jackie standing on the chair.
Then our hero Cosmo emerged. He saw that the problem was a mouse and he pulled up his little furpants and went to work. He did everything you would expect a cat to do – he pounced on it and played a game of cat and mouse with it. All while I had the video camera rolling.
Eventually the mouse started “playing dead”, but Cosmo knew better – he would poke it and it would run away… I started feeling bad for the mouse, so I scooped him up in a garbage pail (he was still quite alive) and eventually threw him out into the yard to fight another day…
And here is the footage I edited back then
(It was one of the first videos I edited, and you can hear
the click of the computer mouse after every sentence LOL)
My Dad loved Cosmo from the moment he first met him. It kinda surprised me as we didn’t have any pets growing up. I always assumed he just tolerated other people’s cats and dogs. I remember him not being a big fan of ferrets – he said that when he was younger, his(?) dogs in Ireland would chase them into their holes and that the ferrets (or maybe weasels) would go after his chickens. Either way, not a fan…
But when he first met Cosmo, I remember Cosmo instantly taking a liking to my Dad. Maybe it was the Hannon aura, or maybe my Dad knew enough to bribe him with some cat treats, but they became friends quickly that day. Whenever my Dad called, he always asked about how Cosmo was doing…
One year, we went to California for a week, and we needed a catsitter. So we asked my Dad if he could watch him for us. My Dad said sure, and we brought him up to the Bronx to stay with him. I could tell my Dad was a little nervous about it, but he did it… When I called him that night after we got home, I could tell the nervousness was gone – Cosmo had made himself at home and had my Dad wrapped around his little paw getting treats or being played with.
When we got back from California, and went to pick Cosmo up, my Dad was really bummed seeing Cosmo leave. He kept telling me what a “Gentleman Cat” Cosmo was and that he was welcome there anytime. I almost didn’t want to take Cosmo away from him :) Hell I almost bought my Dad a kitten, but he warned me not to…
Heres a shot from when my Dad stayed over the house, When we woke up in the morning, Cosmo was waiting outside the door of my Dad’s bedroom. So we let him in. And he put his paws up on the bed and started pawing at my Dad’s face wanting to be played with, Im glad I had the camera nearby
Jackie’s Mom was a harder sell. While she liked Cosmo, she was really nervous around him. I think she had a bad experience with a cat when she was younger. Cosmo sensed this and gave her some space… At least early on.
Over the years, Cosmo grew on her and they developed a mutual respect for each other. Jackie’s Mom would give him cat treats, and he would sit on the couch next to her and stare at her until she switched seats He knew he had the upper hand in this relationship LOL
When Cosmo passed away last Monday, Jackie told me that her Mom was crying for Cosmo – She really is going to miss him. As we all are…
Which brings me to a bummer part of this story which I’m going to skim thru because like I said earlier, this is a celebration of Cosmo’s life, not the sadness of his death.
But this next story is important to the celebration of his life this year…
Crappy Thanksgiving 2011
The Sunday before Thanksgiving 2011, Cosmo started acting “different” one evening – he just started pacing the house in circles for hours. He wouldn’t stop until I picked him up. And just he kept doing it. We called Doc Schaefer’s answering service late that evening but he wasn’t around. But they suggested the local Animal Hospital in Iselin, NJ. We took Cosmo to the hospital at 1am on a Sunday night, and they poked and prodded him and wanted to send him deep down the Jersey Shore for tests the next day.
We were going to do it, until we talked to Doc Schaefer in the morning. Doc smartly told us that Cosmo was a 15 year old cat who had ear tumors, so these tests would be expensive ($1600) and probably require surgery that a 15 year old cat wouldn’t do well with… He just cleaned out Cosmo’s ears, gave him some antibiotics and a b12 shot and sent him home.
We thought we were going to lose him that day. I remember Cosmo being groggy, butat one point, he walked up to both Jackie & I on the couch and rubbed his head against our legs. We lost it… We really thought he was saying goodbye…
Happily, whatever Doc did to him seemed to really perk him up. He still paced, but there was a spring in his step again. Over the next couple of days, I could notice him getting much better… Doc seemed to think that he had an ear infection that was causing the pain on that Sunday and the anti-biotic cleared it up. Jackie & I were very relieved!
But after this incident, Cosmo wasn’t the same cat.
During the winter, Cosmo would sit next to the radiator with his right ear resting on it. It didn’t seem to burn him, so we let him do it… Cosmo moved slower these days, and became more of a lap cat than he ever was. In the past, he’d tolerate me picking him up, but once I stopped petting him, he was on his way… A weird thing is that the tumors in his right ear disappeared! I dont know how, but resting against the radiator worked for him.
Not that we needed reminding to love our Cosmo, but this crappy event made us realize that Cosmo was on borrowed time and really made us appreciate him even more. We treated him well before that week in November, but afterwards, that cat was the most spoiled creature in the universe…
We were really lucky to have Cosmo as long as we did… It was a horrible horrible day last Monday, but its just nature. Until we can make cats and dogs live 40-50 years, its just the way it is and we can’t do anything about it.
The week before Cosmo passed, I was dead-set against ever getting a new cat because of the horrible feelings from the week. But after looking thru all the pictures of Cosmo’s life, I realized that a few horrible weeks is a small price to pay for 15+ years of pure joy.
I won’t be getting a new cat anytime soon – Jackie & I still need to grieve for Cosmo for a while. Trying to replace him with a new kitten would just be disrespectful to him…
If you got this far thru my blog, I salute you – I know it was a long read – Hell it took me 3-4 days of writing it… But once I started writing it, I just kept adding to it… One day in the (hopefully far) future where my memory is starting to go, I’d love to read this and remember just how important this little fuzzball was to Jackie & I during the last 15+ years.
But if you read thru this completely, thank you… As a reward, I wont hit you with any salespitches now… They’re in my other entries if you REALLY want to see them…
I will leave you with a gallery of cool cosmo pictures and this video clip of Cosmo & I taken a few months ago, when he wasn’t feeling so hot and I was hugging him on my chest. It may be sappy, but I’m really glad I had the camera rolling to keep this clip forever…