Jojo came into our lives 16 years ago. We had lost our old cat, Brandy, at the old age of 20 in July and the house seemed empty without her around. A casual query at our local vets sent us to a lady who had rescued some kittens from a feral cat and was looking to rehome them.

Four gorgeous kittens greeted us on our arrival, and we soon agreed we would take two. The question was, which two? We decided to take a male and a female, and the girls quickly settled on the female, who was to be called Phoebe. As we studied the other kittens, the smallest one wobbled over to me.

“He’s the runt of the litter,” I was told. “He’s not very sociable.” At which point, I scooped him up and he promptly curled up on my knee and went to sleep. Decision made.

Joey, (to give him his correct title, although he was always Jojo), was to grow into the biggest cat I’ve ever owned. To be called ‘the runt of the litter’ must have hurt. He had the appetite of a small horse and would eat his own and everyone else’s food if given the chance. On annual trips to the vet it would be suggested that he might need to lose some weight and he would turn his huge eyes on to us in disgust.

Jojo was the softest cat I’ve ever met as well. He wasn’t a hunter, in fact if one of the other cats caught a mouse, he would hurry to tell us, as if to say “it wasn’t me!” The only time he caused a stir was the day he brought a duck into the house. I’ve documented that tale in ‘A Duck for Dinner’  in my book ‘Tales from the Woodpecker Tree’. We were the talk of the neighbourhood for days, and I still don’t know how he got it through the cat flap. On the day a mouse surfaced in our bedroom, Jojo was ordered to catch it, despite the fact that he hadn’t brought it in. The real culprit had made herself scarce so he adopted his most fearsome expression and pounced. He got it as far as the back door, sneezed and dropped it. No, he wasn’t really a hunter.

He did have the most ear-shattering purr. To be woken in the early hours by this rumbling sound of total contentment was, at times, disturbing, but to then close your eyes to this accompaniment was better than any lullaby. Jojo loved to sleep as close to you as he could get, and it didn’t matter if it was the hottest night of the year, he would be there; and, given his size, he was immoveable. My daughter recalls the night she came home after a long stay in hospital. Her bedroom door crashed open as she lay dozing and Jojo planted himself firmly next to her. It wasn’t his usual bed, but he was going to look after her.

That was Jo you see. He was incredibly affectionate and I do believe he tried to tell us not to be sad towards the end. After leaving the vets for the last time, we sat in the car and the weak November sun illuminated the wall in front of us. As we watched, a butterfly landed and spread its wings to capture the last of those rays, and we smiled. The seed of an idea was sown then and a couple of weeks later I wrote ‘Jojo’s Star’.

Look up to the stars and smile. He’ll be watching…