Clyde was a lanky piebald beauty, an aloof gentleman who trotted along the sidewalks with a feline pal or two by his side. He never played, yowled, or allowed me to pet him, but on one magical night I spied him rubbing noses with two other cats and a skunk in a trans-species show of affection.
Clyde's death makes me recall a favorite Marge Piercy poem:
For her name is, She who must be petted.
For her name is, She who eats from the flowered plate.
For her name is, She who wants the door always opened.
For her name is, She who must sleep between your legs.
And he is called, He who must be played with until he drops.
He is called, He who can wail loudest of all.
He is called, He who eats also from your plate.
He is called, He who sleeps in the softest chair.
And they are known as eaters and rollers in catnip
Famous among the nations for resonant purring,
Feared among the mouse multitudes. The voles
and moles also do run from their shadow.
For they perform Cossack dances at four a.m.
For they stick their faces in your face and meow.
For they sit on the computer monitor to monitor your work.
For they make you laugh with their silly acrobatics
but their dignity is that of the oldest gods.
Because of all this we are permitted to serve them.
We are the cat servants, some well trained and some ill,
and they give us nothing but love and trouble.