REQUIEM FOR CLAUDE THE CAT

 

Requiem for Claude

“Austere philosophers, and lovers brave and bold,

love equally, when their maturer days have come,

soft, powerful cats, the proud familiars of the home,

who like themselves are sedentary, and hate the cold.”

-Baudelaire

Friends and admirers of Claude the Cat, the Reverend Hellfire’s faithful companion for twenty years, will be saddened to hear of his passing on Tuesday 15th November.

Claude, full name Claudius Gothicus Maximus, aka Mr Fuzzy Boy, was the most sociable of cats, and had accordingly acquired a large following of devoted human admirers.

He always joined in social gatherings, loved to have visitors, and one of his favourite pastimes was to sit on the footpath and talk (well miaow) to people walking past. He especially liked to sit out the front when it was time for the school kids to go past. If there wasn’t enough foot traffic then he’d go and visit one of his friends in the neighbourhood. He especially liked visiting families with little kids, but he’d make friends with anyone with a decent nature. His character judgement was unerring. If he didn’t like someone, then you knew, that person was wrong.

*

The Reverend Hellfire is naturally distressed by Claude’s demise and has canceled all current engagements during the mourning period. He is not accepting phone calls or visitors at this time and asks well-wishers to send their condolences by email.

Despite his grief, the Reverend offers us the following thoughts in remembrance of his faithful friend.

 

There were these two kittens on the way to the gas chamber at the RSPCA. and I decided to rescue one of them. At first I wanted the pretty, little black one, but it was paranoid and hissed at me, so in the end I took the ugly, grey bundle of fluff, that sat in the kitchen and purred like he belonged there. What a good decision that was.

What a great cat! Intelligent, poised, noble, beautiful and loyal. The ugly grey duckling turned into a magnificent Norwegian Forest cat, proud and graceful.

He was the most civilised of cats and always abided by the Social Contract I instigated. The long and short of this “Social Contract” was that he was allowed to kill as many rats and mice as he liked, but no birds. (People who say you can’t train cats are idiots, though really its more persuading than training.) One day he gently brought me a blue tongue lizard, without harming it in the least, to see where it fitted in to the schedule. So I talked to him about it and we added lizards to the “No Kill” list and he never caught a lizard again.

And what a great Ratter he was. Once he caught seventeen rats in fourteen days, culminating in a monster as long as my forearm! And the mice in their myriad hordes he mowed down mercilessly.

Yet despite his rat hunting prowess, he was discerning enough never to harm the pet rat I had around the time of “the great rat purge”, even though it was a free range rat that roamed as it would around the house, generally setting up camp in the padding of my armchair. Yes Claude could have killed it at any time but refrained, as he made it abundantly clear one day.

We were all sitting around the living room, me in my armchair, my Personal Assistant on couch, the rat was messing about on top of the piano, making a racket, and Claude was on the other side of the room, lying quietly on the floor.

Suddenly Claude leapt smoothly to his feet,

crossed the room in a heartbeat, jumped onto the piano stool, stretched out and tapped the rat gently on the head with his paw. Just once. Then he turned and bolted from the room before anyone could move. The lesson was very clear. He just wanted us to know that the rat was history any time he chose.

 

Twenty years he slept on the bottom right corner of my bed and now I stare and he’s not there. I celebrated his role as perennial foot warmer in my poem, “WINTER BED”…

 “Well a winter bed’s not bed without

a cat to hold the corner down,

and keep the chill and bitter breeze

from freezing my bare feet.

Snug within his dressing gown of fur,

the only sign of life betrayed,

is the occasional luxurious stretch,

or deep contented purr.”

*

Claude possessed a natural dignity. He was really a lion in a tiny body. He never had a problem with self-esteem either, as the following poem I once wrote in his honour would indicate…

 “Claudius my cat, lying regal in the sun,

stretches out with infinite ease an Imperial paw.

All, all else lies beneath him,

but as a special dispensation,

he bestows on us this favour,

that we are permitted to bathe,

in the radiance of his splendour.”

 

He had no fear of dogs. If Claude was sitting on the footpath and a dog came along, he wouldn’t move. The dog would have to go around him. An incautious dog would end up with a slashed nose, running down the street. I have seen him actually chase dogs, not really trying to catch them, just hurrying them along a bit.

He was protective of kittens and other cats mainly, but he couldn’t stand tom-cats coming into his territory. They rarely came back twice.

 

He liked girls with long fingernails who could scratch him under the chin.

*

I miss his purr. I miss his golden green eyes looking at me calmly. I miss his furry little lions mane. I miss my cat.

Rest in Peace Old Friend.

 

Finally, Claude’s passing has put me in mind of an obscure folk-tale they told back in the Old Country. It goes like this..

It was a wild, wet Winter’s night in the West of Ireland, with the winds howling like Banshees, and in a little, old stone cottage, an aged woman sat by the fire. She stirred the stew-pot on the fire, and would look at the door, waiting for her man to come home.

By her chair on the floor, sat a great, grey Tom-cat, staring at the fire with his dreaming, golden eyes.

Suddenly the door swung open, and in came her Husband, dripping wet, and his face white as a ghost’s.

“Your late Pat” she said.

“Aye,”he said,” I was delayed. I had to stop to let a funeral procession pass”

“A funeral!” she cried,”On a wild night such as this?”

“Aye,” he replied,” and it was the strangest funeral procession I’ve ever seen.”

“I was just coming up to the crossroads when I heard the funeral bell ringing to warn folks a funeral was coming by. Well, I thought I should stop and show my respects, so I took off my hat and waited for it to pass.

Just then the procession came into view and I saw with a start that the whole crowd was made up of cats! At their head, six burly toms were walking on their hind legs, and carrying on their shoulders a tiny, cat sized coffin. Stranger still, on top of the coffin was a golden crown! Behind them came a vast horde of cats of all shapes and sizes. From pampered pedigreed kittens, to scarred old alley cats, and mother cats trailing a line of mewling kittens, they were all there.

All of them were howling and yowling and making such a fuss as only cats can do.

I stood there stunned as the procession passed by. Right at the end was an old, orange striped cat with long side-whiskers, who when he saw me, came up to me and spoke as clearly as you or I might have done.

“Could you please tell Old Toby,” he said politely, with a bow, “That Jeremias is dead.”

Then without any further explanation, he trotted off after the procession.”

The woman cried out in surprise. “What? Tell Old Toby? You mean your supposed to deliver a message to our old Tom-cat?”

At this moment, Old Toby, the very same, who had apparently been dozing by the fire

gave a great cry, saying,

“What! Jeremias is dead! So now I am King of the Cats!”

And saying this, Old Toby leapt out the window, and was never seen again by human eyes.

 ***

Advertisements

~ by reverendhellfire on November 20, 2011.

10 Responses to “REQUIEM FOR CLAUDE THE CAT”

  1. Losing an animal is as difficult as losing a good friend. A great remembrance of a great cat.

  2. Dear Rev,
    sorry to hear of the loss of such an epic cat, there’s not a great deal else I can say than at least you had the honour of being his human.

  3. My sympathy for the loss of your friend and companion. Claude sounded like a very special cat.

  4. I’m sorry for your loss. It’s never easy to lose a fur person, especially such a lon-time companion. My Norwegian Forest cat lived to be 22 and although it’s been very 14 years, I still miss her.

    • Thank you.”fur person” is a beautiful term. It reminds me of this house-mate Claude & I once had, who remarked one day,”You know I’ve never had much time for cats before but Claudes great. He’s just like this little dude in a cat suit.”
      Yes,the Norwegian Forest cat is a beautiful breed, is it not?

  5. Dear Rev,

    I am deeply saddened by the loss of the beautiful Claudie.
    Claudie was the finest, handsomest, most magnificent cat I ever had the privilege of knowing.

    Loyal and true to you to the end,
    faithful companion, familiar and friend.

    He stayed by your side through thick and thin, for over 20 years! What a cat. What a character. I remember that he loved to be admired by passers-by, and so made many friends. And he would purr very loudly when pleased.

    It is hard to think that our beautiful feline friends don’t have as long a life span as we humans, so inevitably the time comes when we have to part ways. It is heart-wrenching to be unable to prevent it. It is sad when their time is up. But with you and your Claude, it is most certainly a case of “Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”.

    Take heart, Rev, I think Claude is close to you still.

    VALE CLAUDE. I miss you.

    Linda Loop.

    • Thank you to Everyone who sent comments and e-mails & general consolations for Claude. He was indeed a special cat as all who met him would agree. Sometimes I feel like I can just see him out of the corner of my eye.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: