Cosette 1994-2012

17 Aug

My brother informed me, as gently as possible, that my cat Cosette just died. She was the first cat I brought up by myself, after I graduated from college. She was about seventeen or eighteen years old when she died.

I adopted Cosette, a beautiful little calico with pale green eyes, at an animal shelter when she was six months old. She was over a year old before she quite looked like an adult cat, and she was always very slender; I sometimes described her as a bag of bones.

Cosette’s more eccentric habits included perching on the narrow top edge of a slightly open closet door. Also, when I became angry and impatient with my computer and yelled at it, Cosette became angry with me and attacked my ankles, grabbing one of them and biting my foot. She certainly succeeded in distracting me from my impatience and anger, and she made me realize that my behavior was silly. Once in St. Louis, someone outside my apartment, on the landing, called, “Here, kitty, kitty,” and Cosette ran toward the door. I was surprised, since I had no idea she was trained to respond to “kitty.” Perhaps that was her name for the first six months of her life; it was the name of my first cat when I was a child.

She was a very sweet, cuddly cat who purred and rubbed up against anyone (even a cat-hating psycho neighbor who locked her in the apartment building’s basement and yelled at me for having my TV on at 8:30 in the evening). Cosette was friendly with all humans but was slower at accepting cats and dogs. I eventually saw her gently brushing her side against a Shetland sheepdog named Sheila. It took her about a week to get along with the newly weaned Cheetah, who is now sixteen years old and the only cat still living with me. Whenever I took home a new stray cat, Cosette growled and hissed and let that cat know that this was her territory. She was the queen of the house or apartment.

I left Cosette behind when I (thank kittens!) moved from Kansas to Portland, OR. I left her with an aunt. However, I heard that a year or so after I left Kansas, that aunt moved into a nursing home. If it was the nursing home she spoke of, cats weren’t allowed, so I wondered what happened to Cosette. Maybe my aunt was allowed to keep her after all, or maybe she moved into a different nursing home than the one she talked about–though from what I understand she did move to Belton, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, as expected.

Cheetah can be sweet, though she’s certainly not as sweet as Cosette. Cheetah has an aggressive purr and lets me pick her up and cuddle her; depending on the weather she either sleeps perched on top of me or sleeps at my feet or next to me. The past few days she’s been lying right next to me, by my pillow (with the fan blowing on the bed, because we’re having a heat wave). Also, my cat sitters find that Cheetah will greet them with a mix of purring and hissing (the latter because she can smell their cats on them). A close friend who cat sits for me hangs out at my place and keeps Cheetah company, so she’s been able to bond with her.

Cheetah’s the one cat I took with me to Portland because a) I didn’t think it possible/practical to move across several states with more than one cat (though I recently talked with someone who moved with three cats and at least one dog, doing research on hotels and planning where to stay beforehand), and b) Cheetah is an older, codependent, one-person cat. I didn’t feel bad leaving Cosette behind, since she lived in a house and our aunt treats cats and dogs a lot better than she treats people. For the younger cats, I grieved because I took them to a no-kill shelter after futilely asking around for someone to adopt them. That said, Cosette moved with me from Kansas (where I adopted her from an animal shelter when she was six months old) to St. Louis and back to Kansas.

Now I am truly grieving for Cosette, as I hadn’t when I left her behind. She was one of my favorite cats.

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