Clyde The Black Cat’s 20th and Final Birthday
“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings…”
How do you celebrate a cat’s 20th birthday when you know they’re dying? As I write this on the eve of Clyde’s birthday, I don’t know what to say. He’s used up his nine lives and yet always manages to pull out a spare. I’ve mentioned Clyde’s decline so often, I’ve become an unreliable narrator but as of January 17, Clyde has come to the end of his quality of life. The plan is a gentle euthanasia perhaps as early as his birthday unless he has other plans. You never know with cats.
He’s not a cake and balloons kind of cat. Being a practical Capricorn, he doesn’t like fuss.
If you’re reading this on the weekend, he may have already beat a hasty exit to the great beyond. Our next post will be a tribute. In any case, I invite you to raise a glass and toast to his memory and 20 glorious years. Join us on Instagram @blackcatsofIG where a groundswell of love and good wishes abound. I made a few little videos last week with the last day Clyde was still walking, alert and enjoying the sunny day.
View this post on Instagram
One of our favorite cartoonists paid tribute. Humor transcends everything or at least is a balm for an aching heart.
View this post on Instagram
Clyde was already a senior cat of 16 when we brought him home from the shelter ill with CKD and un-diagnosed diabetes. He rebounded and enjoyed a good quality of life. A few months later he celebrated his 17th birthday when he discovered the joys of catnip.
Clyde adapted to his new life and new role as a blogger, editor and author. Maybe you can’t teach a dog new tricks but cats like to surprise us. If you haven’t read his rather outlandish story in Black Cats Tell All: True Tales And Inspiring Images titled: The Catnip Made Me Do It. He’d love everyone to give a copy to a friend for their birthday.
Of course catnip or anything else could not make Clyde do anything he didn’t want to. Stubborn is too common a word. Recalcitrant is more apt. Life and a weekly blog Mondays With Clyde dispensing his droll wit, wisdom and wizardry continued. He followed seamlessly in the paw prints of our Cat Wisdom 101 muse, the late, great Merlin.
There were health scares and gradual decline with unexpected upswings. Turning 18 was pretty sweet. Always on the shy side, he developed a man cat about town confidence.
Clyde made a regular appearance on Instagram but preferred sharing the limelight with other fabulous black cats. Life continued with the usual routines. Clyde and Odin their almost daily interaction of Clyde politely escorting him downstairs from his third floor lair. Before you knew it, another year had passed. He was blogging less often and he turned 19 but looking as handsome as ever.
Clyde’s 20th birthday is a cause for celebration for sheer will power and passion for life. Clyde does not agree.
Who would have ever guessed at the ripe old age of 19, Clyde’s life would take an expected turn towards the BEST SUMMER OF HIS LIFE. We moved house and he loved it. He changed overnight and wanted, no insisted to go out in the garden every day rain or shine. My understanding was that he’d always been an indoor cat. Luckily I’d stayed in touch with his former owner and she said he’s escaped and went missing once for six weeks! Shy, homebody Clyde forever a mystery.
Clyde’s health continued to decline but the summer garden time was a tonic where he lounged and prowled the bushes like a mighty panther.
Autumn weather pleased him and he was miffed when it got too cold. To compensate for his daily sun fix, I placed steps he could climb up to my massage table near the two huge windows. We’d enjoy snuggle time and watch the clouds go by while dreaming of new projects. It’s been a mild winter so far and Clyde enjoyed a nip of fresh air almost every day since this week.
The colors of Autumn turned dreary and then stone cold gray when Domino died in early November. Although they weren’t close, they shared a quiet rapport like two old gentlemen. Domino had difficulty going up stairs any more so he slept in the living room near Clyde’s hidey hole nest by the fireplace. After Domino died, he refused to go there and I made a new nest with a heating pad nearby.
Recently Clyde began spending more time by Domino’s grave.
Clyde’s diabetic neuropathy made walking harder but he’s drag himself upstairs every night for an extra midnight meal. We’d know he wasn’t feeling well when we wouldn’t hear the shuffle drag of claws scraping along the corridor. Gradually his world grew smaller and it was too cold to go out much. It was harder to the climb up to the massage table so I’d pick him up. Then he no longer wanted to be picked up.
I’ll miss our editorial meetings.
His gait turned more drunken sailor lately but he was hellbent on getting up if he wobbled and fell. There were more good days than bad but in the past week he could barely walk and in the past couple days, not at all.
Cats especially Clyde as fastidious about their toilet and last week he had his very first accident. There are puppy pads outside the litter boxes but he peed all over himself and I had to bathe him. His thick coat was getting scruffy and matted despite frequent brushing. He felt and looked so much better but we know where this is headed.
I managed to snap a few on a good day for an official birthday portrait.
For three years he managed to keep his weight stable by being fed on demand 24/7. Kidney cats all grow thin eventually but Clyde didn’t grow bony until very recently and suddenly. Another huge red flag.
A death dress rehearsal
Last weekend we thought this is it. I brought him upstairs so he wouldn’t be alone and could have sworn he died at 4 am. There was no sign of life and told hubby he’s dead. In the morning, Clyde made a miraculous recovery enjoying blankie time on a freakishly warm day. He ate, drank, used the litter box, snuggled, all normal activities but just in case, hubby dug a grave beside Domino’s. It was an awful roller coaster preview of grief.
Since then it’s been a sleepless vigil monitoring his progress or lack there of. The thought of doing anything celebratory felt hollow. Well, except this. Clyde would heartily approve and say NO! to all birthday shenanigans. The hat was from a birthday party I attended for Grumpy Cat who is probably still saying NO! in kitty heaven. Knowing Clyde, he’ll be holding court with Grumpy Cat, Lil Bub and many, too many black cats featured in our book that have died.
Thanks for stopping by and take a batch of virtual catnip for your cat with our love and appreciation,
da tabbies o trout towne
Godspeed your journey to heaven dood; with happy wishes and the best of fishes and mice cream in dishes, no matter where you celebrate your 20th. You lived life on your terms and that’s a lesson we could all learn from. We are honored to know you and call you friend♥♥♥♥♥♥
A loving toast to celebrate life as you wanted it dear, beautiful panther Clyde… with dignity and on your terms. Love and purrs from Deb and the Zee/Zoey gang.
My heartfelt sympathy to all who loved Clyde. I held on to my Precious Runner for far too long out of selfishness. Will never forgive myself. 💔💔💔 How do we still exist as our loves take such huge pieces of our hearts with them?! ❤️🙏😭
Lola The Rescued Cat
I’m so sorry. Godspeed, Clyde. You had a wonderful life with Layla.
I’m glad he had great last summer in the garden. He’s a grand old man. 20 doesn’t happen for a lot of cats. Purrs to your hurting heart Layla. Blessings.
Marjorie at Dash Kitten
I did a long comment on Instagram Clyde but wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY here.
Bless you, sweetheart. You lucked out with the best cat mum ever dude.
Skeeter And Izzy
you reached a milestone that few ever do and we are honored to have gotten to know you in the short time that you have been with Layla and family.
You are a wonderful feline in every way. We wish you God Speed when it is time for you to cross which may have happened by now.
Heaven will have another beautiful angel to light up the sun and the night sky. Death is never easy for us even tho we know it is coming for us all. Humans struggle with it far more than you little one.
We too have some that are making the steady march to the bridge and can only hope to be able to savor and enjoy every possible minute with them too.
Peace be with you my brother and gentle soul. You will like it in Heaven….sunshine and beautiful gardens to explore.
All the Purrs and Love we can send to you sweet one and to your family too.
With all our love and some tears too
Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang >^..^<
The Swiss Cats
Happy 20th birthday, Clyde ! Enjoy your time with Layla, and have a peaceful transition to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge when time comes. Purrs and hugs to your human
oh Clyde!!! I have tears in my eyes, I have to check and see if you are still with us. Happy Happy Birthday however (and where ever you celebrate), tell Mom I will be in touch soon xoxox
Happy 20th Clyde!!!
When its their time its their time and as much as we want them to stay they look at us as if to say “what are you on about…I won’t be far just around the corner from you” Happy Birthday dear old man we all love you Clyde,xx Rachel and Speedy
The Mews: We are thinking of Clyde today and wishing him an easy journey to The Bridge when the time comes. He will be greatly admired there for reaching such a landmark age.
TBT here: I have only had to assist one cat over The Bridge, but it was my special one. Skeeter was diagnosed with kidney and liver problems at 15.5. The vet said I might be able to extend his life by a few months by injecting fluids daily. I decided not to do that. At about 16, he began to lose his understanding of litterboxes and often seemed confused. There were good days and bad.
The vet was very reluctant do do euthanasia, but told me that when Skeeter started losing weight and was leaning against walls to stay upright, to bring him in. That occurred when he was 16.5. As far as I can tell, the pre-final sedative shot was sufficient, but we needed to be sure.
I have since been told by my new vets (a team of 3) that they wouldn’t have recommended waiting quite so long (Skeeter and I were both in misery for several months). But on his final full day, he roused himself enough to get down the deck stairs and sit by the small 3×5′ pond and lap some water. He sat there unmoving for about 15 minutes, and then couldn’t get up the stairs. I carried him inside and called the vet.
Afterwards, it took a long time to drive home. I had to keep pulling off the road to wipe tears away. At home, I laid Skeeter on the floor for the other 2 Mews to examine and sniff. I didn’t want them to think he had just wandered off. They seemed to understand.
I actually set him in a box in the bathroom with the door closed for the rest of the day in case he somehow revived (denial happens). The ground was frozen anyway. I finally went out and got a 2′ hole dug with a breaker bar and a post-hole digger. Back-filing that hole was hard. I finally bought brass letter of his name, built a small box over the site and attached a 12″ resin cat statue to the top.
I only mention all this to say that I (and others of course) understand what you are and will be going through soon. 20 years is a long time. I am dripping tears remembering my own feelings at the time and that was a decade ago. Please accept my best thoughts for you and Clyde…
Happy 20th Clyde although you are not a fan of fuss, you deserve a bit of it. You are such a lovely man cat and brought joy to so many.
I know you humans will miss you when you gently say goodbye but you will always be in their hearts To love and be loved is all of God’s creatures ambition and you had attained that .
Say hello, to those who have gone before you those near and dear to us.
God speed dear one.
The Florida Furkids
We were here earlier but couldn’t find the right words. We still can’t but want to say, Happy Birthday Clyde.
The Florida Furkids and Mom Sharon
ATCAD - Scylla, Chimera, Yin, Yang, Tuiren and Fenris
Words fail us, we wish Clyde could have stayed with you forever. Happy Purrday wherever you are Clyde. We are going to go reread your story to celebrate we LOVE our copy of Black Cats Tell All.
Clyde, you are an inspiration to all kitties. I wish all could have 20 years. I am sorry you are at the end of your life, you will be missed by all. XO
Happy Birthday and Transitions over the Rainbow bridge. We too raise a paw of salute to Clyde. Hero of Black Cats. Feline Editor and handsome boy! So glad you had your time in the Sun. You made the world a better place. You will not be forgotten ever! And perhaps we will hear more from you from the other side. That would be so in keeping with your character and we encourage you to keep in touch. We hear it’s very nice in Heaven. Peace be with you always. Sending hugs, prayers, healing purrs and eternal friendship. Much love from your pals the Furballs. xoxox Chase, Buddha, Merlin, Fairy, Elfin and Yogi
Clyde endeared himself to everyone during his stay at PAWS. We were all so happy when you took him home, Layla!
Thank you for giving Clyde bonus years of TLC.
Love and sympathy,
Happy 20th Birthday, Clyde! 💙🎉 As I read this lovely, heartfelt post today, I was moved to tears. You’ve led such a remarkable life as both editor of the blog and as a very much loved cat in your forever home. I am so glad you had some snuggly days in the sun. Thank you for touching so many lives. Sending you and your Meowmy Layla gentle hugs and ❤️ love. ~ Meowmy and Cornelius Cornbread
The Island Cats
We’re sorry to hear Clyde is in his end days. But he lead a full life. Godspeed…and may his journey be peaceful.
Fond farewell my feline friend (although I never got to give you any ear or tummy rubs in person). Clyde, you certainly lucked out when you hooked up with Layla. I wish you happy trails and mouses tails and an overabundance of good fresh catnip buds.
Oh, I am saddened to read of this, but Clyde being Clyde does things on his own terms and time.
Sending huge hugs and a lot of purrs from Pipo, too.
Be well in Kitty Heaven, Clyde!
Happy birthday, Clydie! From the very first time we met at PAWS, we knew you were a remarkable and one-in-a-million cat. I knew that to be the case as we spent time together as you waited for the special and love-filled forever home you eventually found there with Layla. To you both, and to your entire family, we send so much love, purrs and prayers. Godspeed. We will never, ever forget you, dear friend. XO
Fly to Heaven on your newly-acquired wings, Angel Clyde. Such a handsome mancat; we’ll miss you.
Hugs and purrs to your human.
Oh Clyde, I am sorry for your illness. Cheddar wants to say hello to you in Cat Heaven. He departed suddenly on 12/17/19 after CKD that suddenly got worse. I am sure that you and Cheddar Oleski will have a grand time together in Cat Heaven. Think I got a message right now from Cheddar. He wants to meet you. (sob sob, it is hard to lose a cat.)
A cat is the best gift a human can have. I”m sure Layla loved you every second of your life.
For once I am almost without words. Happy birthday, of course, dear Clyde. I’m so glad your last few years have been so great shared with Layla. And Layla, I’m truly sorry for what you are going through right now whether it has happened yet or not. You are right quality of life is the most important thing. You gave him the years he may not have had without you. My prayers are with you both.
Happy birthday Clyde. Sorry fur your loss. Big hugs
Dezi and Raena
I love you dear boy. Happy 20th birthday. I raise a glass to you.
Oh Clyde what a marvelous ride it has been. We are so thankful you had such a joy filled time these last few years and gained all that extra time with lots of love and comfort. We wish you well on your next journey above and beyond. Concats on your 20 purrday, and although it was your last it was the best. Godspeed dear one.
Happy Birthday!!Now it’s time to get your wing sweet kitty. You were/are an amazing kitty who brought so much joy to your humans. Play, hunt and romp …you can Angel kitties are healed!! Please look for Sir Hubble Pinkerton. He is a blue-eyed white Oriental Shorthair angel. He would like you !!
What an amazing cat, be free sweet Clyde – you will be missed.
We wishin yoo da wunderful 20th Clyde mah cat fren. God Speedin
Buddy Budd and Family
This is such a very timely post as our Buddy Budd is trying valiantly to get to his own 20th while fighting kidney disease that seems to have taken deeper hold the past week. Buddy has had a health scare every December since 2015 except this year. Last year his problem turned out to be the kidney disease the treatment of which he detested. Believing in quality over quantity I gave in and no longer attempted to give him fluids but since he loves water I figured this was not such a bad thing. He sleeps almost all the time but gets up to watch the tube with me and comes to bed for his late night dinner. This week his intake has dropped precipitously, except for a treat, so the time is near. Thanks so much Clyde and Layla you have helped us with our own changing venues from the corporeal to the continuum.
Buddy Budd and Dad Pete
We just want to say Happy 20th Birthday from Hamish and Gail x
Happy Birthday dear Clyde and Godspeed my friend. You really did have an amazing run and I am glad your departure will be on your terms and on your schedule. Hugs from all of us.
Pam and Teddy
Dear Clyde……My Mom has watched you since you joined Layla’s family and you certainly were the king of the hill – I think you always will be. You sure had a long and amazing life – and I hope once you become settled at the Bridge you will stop by my brother Angel Sammy’s cloud and tell him we miss him. We miss ALL the Angels who are no longer here but truly and honestly WE FEEL YOU ALWAYS. Miss Layla will keep you in her heart. Go in peace dear Clyde. You deserve a rest…………………
Hugs, Teddy and Mom Pam
Happy Birthday, Clyde!
Clyde’s recent decline in health sounds just like my Dad’s cat, Bailey. She had to be assisted to the Bridge on NYE.
Layla, hugs to you. Sounds like he had some pretty good years.
It’s so sad when a senior kitty comes in to the shelter, or in Clyde’s case is returned. This guy was such a champ and we were thrilled when he found a loving long term foster home. Thank you for giving this guy 3+ wonderful years. That’s so sweet you are in touch with his original owner. Our thoughts are with you – and Clyde – during this difficult time <3
Erin the Cat
A Very Happy and Special 20th Birthday Clyde. Years do not count when there is so much love and joy and friendship and fun falling along the way. You sure did live long and prosper, as a once and still great actor said. But you are or were no actor – the real Real McCoy – the REAL Cat and friend to so many. . . . see you when I get there, Clyde. . . .
Gentle Purrs of love and friendship
ERin & Mrs H
Memories of Eric and Flynn
Happy 20th birthday Clyde, whether it be here on Earth or at the Bridge where you celebrate with your wings.
I am so sorry Layla. Even though you know it is coming it makes it no better. In fact I think the roller coaster makes it worse, so much more stressful not knowing when the time will come.
I am glad he had the good summer last year and enjoyed his last years with you. Love and hugs, Jackie
I raise a paw of salute to you, Clyde. You’ve always lived as your own cat, with your own schedule, and I know the humans in your care are respecting that. Godspeed.
I agree. Clyde was one of a kind.