The world is a little less hairy today.
Tabby’s Place is mourning the passing of one Ms. Claudette.
From her earliest hours with us, Ms. Claudette was a conquering queen.
In a cloud of fire-orange hair whirled with white, she waged war against any who would contest her claim to supremacy. Bowing at her long-haired toes? Your homage is accepted, mortal. Getting cheeky? She’ll take what’s hers by fire and blood.
As is often the case with fiery beasts, Claudette had an air of immortality. Where others might fall, her winged victory would flit back and forth through the hottest gates without catching so much as the scent of smoke.
But even fiery beasts are made of mud and ash and miraculous mortality.
Make no mistake: Claudette was a creature very much of this earth. She loved the muck of reality so much, in fact, that her happiest hours were spent…in the litter box. But not in the way you think.
Claudette would find the cleanest, coolest litter box in Suite A, and stretch out, Botticelli-model-style, in the sand. There was hair and grit and glory everywhere.
It was a fitting metaphor for our fiery, unfathomable, fabtacular feline.
Although she’d come from a home and ostensibly been adored, Claudette was never too cuddly with us at Tabby’s Place. Many times I’d tiptoe towards her blaze, but I could never quite catch a spark. It was okay. Much can be said with an arched eyebrow (Claudette’s) or a fawning, toady-like kowtow (mine).
We loved Claudette. And I believe, in her way, she loved us.
One of our volunteers, a fabtacular creature in her own right, confessed to me that she used to take Claudette for unauthorized strolls up and down the hallway between the suites and the solaria. It comes as no surprise that Claudette relished this. She was never just one of the guys — nay, she was a conquering queen. She was a genius. And she would obey only the rules of her own making.
I wish I could give you a clear explanation for how we lost Claudette today. Not that tight, tidy explanations “help” in a helpless hour, but they’re something to squeeze back when the sadness squeezes you too hard. Alas, there’s not much to scrape together here. In a bafflingly short period of time, Claudette lost gobs of weight, suffered a kidney-value-catastrophe, and dimmed before our eyes — and in the spite of our most valiant efforts — from inferno to brush fire to ember…to the spark that even death can’t destroy.
Claudette left this world at Dr. Fantastic’s emergency hospital today, in Denise’s loving arms, after no more could or should be done. When a cat is a conquering queen, there comes a point where the last battle is death itself.
I have no doubt that, even as it looks to earth-eyes as though she lost, Claudette found a way to win that one, too.
Perhaps it’s fitting, in paying tribute to our hairy heroine, to end with lyrics from the musical Hair. When I was a wee child of the 80s, my Mom used to blast her old vinyl records while cleaning the house each Saturday morning. It’s to this routine that I owe my love of Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie and Joni Mitchell…and my precocious knowledge of a certain “American tribal love-rock musical.” (Note to all parents: probably best if you don’t permit your six-year-olds to loudly sing the lyrics from American tribal love-rock musicals in public. Especially not in church.)
One of Hair‘s tamer tunes is “Manchester England,” in which Claude jubilantly sings:
And I’m a genius, genius, I believe in God
And I believe that God believes in Claude
That’s me, that’s me
Claude(tte), you are a genius, now and eternally. We know that God believes in you, and we believe we’ll see you again. Blaze on, bright flame.
Photo credits: Mark, Jess B, Mark