The last of my childhood cats died last night. Clyde was the dribbly one, the ginger one, the fat one, the one most likely to shed on the end of your bed. He was the one who stood at your feet as you ate, and the one that got all vocal every time you opened the fridge. Or looked at the fridge. Or thought about maybe looking at the fridge.
Clyde was the one who didn’t like being stroked head to tail – he prefered it if you worked tail to head, scratching all his itchy spots.
Clyde was most likely to crawl into your lap, and sleep there for hours at a time. (Longer if you’d let him.) He once scared the heck out of me by curling up in a ball and relaxing so dramatically I thought he’d fallen into a coma. I only stopped trying to wake him up, and checking for a pulse after he started purring like a lawnmower. Unlike his sister, Clyde was heavy. When he slept on you, you could feel the comforting weight of him, all the way down to your bones.
When he was younger he broke his leg. We put him in a cast, and I nearly broke my own leg, rushing his favorite fluffy blankie down the stairs to the computer room. Later I sat there with him drooling on my knee, and thought that there’d be a strange kind of symmetry to us both ending up in casts, swaddled up in fluffy blankies.
Clyde was least likely to catch a bird. He was most likely to be caught daydreaming about catching them though. I think it was a lucky thing that he wasn’t really built for stealth. He would have decimated the bird population in a matter of weeks if he was. He used to stalk the neighbors caged birds, and claim his sister’s kills as his own. I think it was his way of living the dream.
So. The last of my childhood cats are gone. And Clyde really was a childhood cat. We got him and his sister at the same time, when I was in intermediate in Tauranga, and they came with us, all the way through moving houses (a lot) high school, learning to drive, Mum moving out of the house, painfully awkward teenage moments, my first job, photography assignments, Dad dating, us kids meeting a new branch of the family, crushes on boys, exams, failed exams, leaving home, and coming back to visit. And all the way through that, if ever I wanted a few moments to lie down and cuddle with a cat, he was always there, usually curled up on a bed, a fluffy blanket, a warm piece of concrete, or a beanbag. And if ever I needed him, and I couldn’t find him, then I’d just open the fridge. Or look at the fridge. Or think about looking at the fridge, and he’d appear out of nowhere.
My first memory of clyde is him falling asleep with his giant kitten head rested possessive on his half of his food bowl. It’s another of those moments of strange symmetry that he was found curled up asleep by his food bowl yesterday morning. Except he wasn’t sleeping. I’ll bet he wandered over to check out the food situation, because perhaps someone in the house was thinking about food, or the fridge. Then he got tired, so he lay down to rest his eyes for a moment, pretty sure that the food would appear in the next wee while, and wanting to be prepared for it’s eventual emergence. Unfortunately he never did wake up. And I guess, as a cat, that’s not such a bad way to go.