He arrived eleven years ago, all skin and bones. A six-month adolescent, the vet said, with a head too big for his hungry body. He'd been living wild on some scrubland.

Desperate to be rescued, he'd jumped into my friend Luis' van and refused to leave, sitting on the front seat until they got to mine.

I agreed to keep him while his microchip was checked but we found he had none. Within days I'd fallen for a ginger tom with a freckled nose and big green eyes. We called him Rojo.

Rojo melted hearts, wooing and winning even my most cat-resistant friends. It never seemed to cross his mind that people might not want his company. Each guest was greeted at the door, every delivery man escorted to the front-garden gate. He loved people and they responded in kind.

Rojo didn't have much time for climbing trees or days out on his own. He liked accompanied strolls and sitting with my partner and me under our big old tree.

Always close, we'd become inseparable during lockdown. He'd call to see which room I was in if he'd been out for a comfort break.

His was a rough love of ferocious kneading, human hair grooming and head bumps. If he felt attention-deprived, he'd tap my hand repeatedly until he got the strokes he wanted. Not one for social distancing, he'd learned from the cat sitter how to high five.

Last year, Rojo discovered zooming and, inevitably, photobombing. As soon as he heard voices, he'd be up on the desk mooning my fellow parliamentarians.

One appearance went viral. At the last count, it'd been viewed 12 million times, earning him appearances at the Taiwan Cat Film Festival and, any YouTuber's dream, the Jimmy Kimmel Show. He gets fan mail from Los Angeles to Lagos.

Two weeks ago, Rojo went for an evening stroll to our garden gate. I never worried when he was out. He was scared of cars, avoided roads, and never strayed far.

Within moments, neighbours I didn't know were at our door. Rojo had been killed by a car, they said.

A driver had handed them his body but hadn't stopped.

Details were sketchy. Rojo was lying dead in their driveway when we went to their address, his head wrapped in a towel.

A half hour after I'd given him his tea, we were leaving him, lifeless, at the vet.

There have been many tears since. The house is quiet without him. I long for his boisterous, demanding, constant presence when awake, and his trusting snoring beside me on the sofa when asleep.

Some people will say he was just a cat. But he was my Rojo. I loved him, and I miss him.

  • Under current law, you must report to police any collision with certain types of animal, including dogs, horses, cattle, pigs, goats, and sheep. However, drivers are under no legal obligation to report accidents involving cats. John Nicolson MP is supporting a change in the law.