Black Cat Advocate Clyde: Tale of Two Cat Funerals

Black Cat Advocate Clyde: Tale of Two Cat Funerals by Layla Morgan Wilde

Huge thanks to everyone who left heartfelt comments, wishes and condolences at Clyde’s 20th birthday post, Instagram @blackcatsofig and privately. They were so beautiful I couldn’t bear to read them without crying. And I still haven’t responded to them. The Chinese New Year starts today and I’m superstitious about mentioning death (posting this just under the wire). I started doing a memorial post but I found so many wonderful unpublished photos and videos of Clyde I’d forgotten about, it warrants another post.

Today is about Clyde’s demise and sharing the practicalities of losing a beloved cat. If you don’t want to see a picture of a dead cat, stop reading. It’s my hope to normalize pet loss with respect and a healthy dose of reality.

Leave it to Clyde to exit on his big day. When cats in our cat world die, it’s not uncommon to write tributes literally before the body is cold. Bless all who can but I can’t. When my soul cat Merlin died, I didn’t share or blog about his death for a month. I just couldn’t handle the questions, responding to condolences or wonder how could I ever write anything to do him justice.

Yes, our panther boy fought a fierce fight but it was time. He rallied once more last week but then lost his ability to walk and eat on his own. The night after I posted his birthday post, he had a seizure. He communicated about wanting to die naturally but watching a cat die from a series of seizures as their organ shut down wasn’t an option. Sorry, Clyde. More woo woo stuff another time.

I believe we are so uncomfortable with death and suffering that we euthanize too soon and too often. It’s tricky topic but if we’re truly tuned into our cat’s well-being with awareness and not denial, the decision is easier. Not that it’s ever an easy decision. It’s about quality of life of course and accepting what a vacant look means. Clyde hung on without that hollow “kill me now” look until the day before. I hope we made the right decision. That’s what the vet and everyone says but that’s what they all say.

One of our dear blogger friends made this lovely tribute for Clyde. Thank you Pipo and Minko + Clyde adored summer and this is how I’d like to imagine him soaking up the sun’s rays with soft grass beneath his paws.

A snow storm was brewing last Saturday and we luckily got a local vet, Ryan and vet tech, Laura from Family Veterinary Care to come over last minute. It made sense to place Clyde on his favorite sunning spot and we waited. What a relief to stay in the privacy of one’s home. With the utmost reverence and compassion, Clyde was prepped and we said our goodbyes again. Euthanasia when done properly is gentle and fast. They made a paw print memento of those precious beans and just like that, he was gone.

at home euthanasia of black cat Clyde

In seven years, this was our 6th cat loss and second euthanasia. Death is still an uncomfortable subject but I wanted to show how it’s a natural part of the cycle of life. I’ve come a long way. When we euthanized Coco in 2013, I didn’t want to touch the body. It creeped me out when her eyes opened (it’s normal) and we buried her immediately afterward.

Every cat life and death is different. With Merlin, he slept in the room with me for four days before a meaningful ceremony and burial.

I’m no longer uncomfortable touching a dead cat. With Clyde, I immediately felt him gone, a clean exit leaving a furry shell. His eyes remained open to the vastness of the Universe. Snow swirled outside as the vet team quietly left. I tucked him in for the night with a towel, not that he could feel cold and I lit a candle watching evening shadows close in. I went about my business making dinner, watching TV, checking email like normal except there was a dead cat in the kitchen. I continued to talk to him, pet him every so often, take a photo and enjoy having his presence. I can’t imagine why I’d felt the urgency to bury Coco so quickly.

I said goodnight to Clyde as I did every night. For the first time in weeks, I was able to sleep uninterrupted. Palliative care is exhausting but a final gift I never regret giving.

We are lucky to live in a State where burying cats is legal. Others prefer to cremate and keep their cat’s ashes at home. It’s all highly personal and okay.

The storm passed and in the morning, Clyde bathed in the best and brightest sun puddle ever. Overnight rigor mortis set in and his body looked a bit more shrunken revealing a canine tooth. Rigor mortis, the stiffening of muscles usually happens within a few hours, but it seemed to happen much sooner. I suggest moving a body into the burial pose you’d prefer asap. I moved Clyde’s tail but left his legs as is. He looked shrunken to half his weight and despite receiving sub-q fluids every day that week he was so dehydrated, he didn’t soil a towel during euthanasia.

We talked some more and with every photo I snapped, I felt anxiety. Oh no, will this be the last shot? Is today a good day for a funeral? When I wrap him up, I’ll never see his face again. The finality crept in. I ate breakfast with Clyde knowing it would be the last time by our favorite sunny window. I meditated and gathered items like catnip and crystals to place inside the towel for his after life. Yes, it was the perfect day for a burial and thank God, hubby had dug a grave on a warm day before the freeze.

dead cat before funeral cat wisdom 101

I’ve buried cats in wooden crates, boxes, bio-degradable pods but now prefer simple burial shrouds. I had some leftover fabric from Domino and it was just the right size to wrap Clyde in the towel and then the fabric. Two hand-tied knots and my bundle of love was ready to go to his next adventure.

For anyone has never dug a grave, it’s hard work. You need a good shovel and earth that’s not full of rocks or roots. We decided it best to bury Clyde right next to Domino in a flower bed. It turned out to be rather shallow but we like build it up into a mound. And I suggest placing a heavy board or object for a few days to prevent any animals from digging. There are a surprising amount of details to work out in advance but that’s true for any death. With humans, at least in our society, we have funeral directors and planners remove tasks, but there is something cathartic about getting your hands dirty. God really is in the details.

When Domino died in November, I posted a tribute with tons of photos but nothing from his funeral. He died naturally and Clyde said his good-byes in a warm sun puddle. It’s important for every person to memorialize their cat in their own way. My husband likes to print out photos and write stuff on them. He placed a big photo of Domino on the chaise where they’d watch TV together. He no longer sits there but the photo stayed put until recently.

Clyde the cat funeral burial

Odin joined the funeral, checking out the grave, sniffing and then dashed off after saying his good-byes. For Clyde, he gave one sniff and expressed zero interest. Granted, they weren’t as close as Domino his old wrestling pal.

Clyde black cat funeral burial

Burials are messy but if you like gardening, it goes with the territory. I can’t wait for spring to create a beautiful memorial garden.

Odin knew this was Clyde’s favorite spot but it’s up for grabs now. I confess I couldn’t bear to sit there with my morning coffee for a few days but now it feels bearable with happy memories. And so it goes, then there were two.

Odin the cat wisdom 101 cat

64 thoughts on “Black Cat Advocate Clyde: Tale of Two Cat Funerals”

  1. I am so sorry that Clyde decided it was time to fly off to The Rainbow Bridge. Our Angel did the same thing last week, but we didn’t know it was coming. Hugs and purrs.

  2. We send our purrs and prayers of support at this sad time. That he was so loved it a wonderful gift and he returned it so many times over. We had our local vets come in for our last loss and it was much better than having to bring a cat who is ill to the vet. Thanks for sharing Clyde’s last photos with us and the burying. It means so much for we who love our furs that we share and know that others feel the same. Clyde watch over us all until our time comes.
    Timmy and Family

  3. Clydie, we were so blessed to know you even before you found your forever home with Layla. And we were filled with joy to know your life with her was so filled with love. Even though you have departed this plane, and we know that love lives on forever and ever. We, too, love you, and will never forget you, dear friend. – Kevin and Tracey

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about the sad news about Clyde. I do want our babies to go naturally when time comes but sometimes it’s kinder to help them. Sending warm hugs to you.

  5. What a beautiful tribute post ! Clyde had a beautiful life with you. We’ve got leaky eyes, and we send you comforting purrs and tons of love. Farewell, Clyde, fly free… Purrs and hugs

  6. Now that you have crossed The Rainbow Bridge, all your friends will be there to meet you Clyde Rest In Peace xxxx{(❤️)}xxxx

  7. Layla…..sending love to you and your husband……Clyde is a beautiful cat and thank you for sharing your feelings and ritual as you are experiencing your loss…… made me want to hug my cat 🐱 again and again….forever….. (my Poppy Cat is a little 6 year old Tortie with so much cuteness) …….I was so sad to hear about Clyde but you were so fortunate to have her and cherish her for twenty years…..also thank you for sharing your knowledge with me about cats in your emails and photos…..and blog…….I hope to meet you in person in my lifetime……..from Fay Kennedy 🔰🔰 and her Poppy Cat 🐈🐱🐈

  8. R.I.P. handsome Clyde💔🌈Please say hello to my angel girls for me. I’m sure they’ll show you all the best sunny spots.

  9. I’m so sorry for your losss, Layla. Clyde reached so many people and inspired so much understanding of black cats. He left a big lagacy, and I’m sure a big hole your heart, too. Sending hugs your way.

  10. Many purrs to you. I think you did so well honoring Clyde in life and in death. It is not an easy task, and something my human is still learning how to do. <3

  11. I am so sorry for the loss of your handsome boy. I understand about pallative care, we were doing it for Prancie and Millie for months and it is exhausting, but I would have done it forever to keep them with us. XO

  12. A lovely tribute to a handsome cat.
    We are sure he enjoyed all of his 20 years with you and it was so nice that he passed at home
    in familiar surroundings.Even though you know it was his time, it is never easy to say the final goodbye.
    We send you lots of comforting purrs and love.
    Purrs,Georgia and Julie
    and”mum” Nancy

  13. This was a wonderfully emotional and informative post about handling aspects of our pet’s deaths. I have said goodbye to 13 cats over 8 years so zi too have grown in my views of their passing. Each is different and if I can I use an animal communicator just before to find out their requests. I try to honor them as much as possible. Mine are all buried in a section of our acreage with gravestones on each and prayer flags sending my prayers to the next world. Sending you peace and reiki light in your loss of Clyde.

  14. RIP Clyde. We know your family will miss you but you are now free.

    The Florida Furkids and Mom Sharon

  15. Even in Death there is Beauty. We only have to open our hearts to see it. We see it in the care and time you have taken with Domino and Clyde.
    We see it even thru the tears we shed and the agony of our broken heart, we see it.
    Love to you and Hubby and Odin and Nou Nou
    Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang >^,,^<

  16. Your love of Clyde shows through every decision you and your husband made for him. There are times when you absolutely know it’s time for euthanasia, but not always. My husband and I prefer to be with our pets when they pass, and that usually means euthanasia. I will say we changed our minds once while waiting for the vet, and it was absolutely the right decision. Our kitten, who had a hiatal hernia and megaesophagus, had a 2% chance of surviving, and he’s now 6-years-old. I found it really hard when one of our cats died alone while I was away. My husband found her lying on the floor, already gone, and sent me a text. She was 15+ years old and overweight, but the sweetest girl ever. We have had most of our cats, and a few foster kittens who died in care, cremated. We have a memory garden surrounded by rocks on the hill behind our home. The afternoon sun hits it, and the flowers are beautiful in the summer. We order river rocks engraved like a tombstone for each one of our cats and dogs after they pass. I often walk up there to check that nothing has been disturbed, but it does make me cry. Yet in another way, it brings me comfort. My wish is to have my ashes scattered in the memory garden, and no stone will be necessary. Thank you for sharing Clyde with us. He will live on in your heart.

  17. Godspeed your journey our friend, with hugs to you, mom and dad. Remember to visit mom and dad when you can; let them know you are happy, healthy and whole; tell everyone we send
    love; and they are not forgotten ~~~~~~~~~~ ♥♥♥

  18. My vet also came to my home to put Oliver to rest. It was the first time we didn’t do it at the vets, and I was thankful. We have buried cats but cremated Oliver. He’s in an urn in my room. I related to what you said about Clyde giving you a sign. Oliver did, too, and I spoke to him and said goodbye. While I will never forget Oliver, I adopted two kittens a year later. One of them is a mini panther, by the way. Harry looks a lot like Clyde. I hope he lives as long a life. Clyde was a lucky black cat to have a wonderful home and a long life.

  19. I’m so sorry to hear about Clyde. I enjoyed reading your post though – your outlook on the funeral, and keeping Clyde around a bit before burying. It is so hard to say that final goodbye, knowing you’ll never see their face again. My heart goes out to you. Sending love.

  20. We come – we live – we go and perhaps come again but we make our mark each time and Clyde absolutely did. Brave, handsome, dignified – most memorable………….my heart is with you yet again Layla. Your Spring garden will be amazing as there is a LOT of love there in the earth.

    Hugs, Pam

  21. Wonderful and loving tribute to Clyde. It helps all of us who struggle with losing our beloved cats. Best to you.

  22. Housepanthers are typically organized like that. It’s truly amazing how far the body can go and still want to be alive. Palliative care is exhausting, but the clarity in decisions is remarkable, and purrfectly natural for you to have his body in his space until his spirit has left and you have accepted. Farewell, Clyde, on to your next incarnation. Our purrs and sympathies to you.

  23. R.I.P. Clyde. Such a beautiful tribute and wonderful photos of a stunningly beautiful fellow.
    (((hugs))) – Mugg

  24. Beautiful post about Clyde. His passing was treated with the dignity he deserved. I know you will miss him. I admire you for your strength and love. I chose cremation for Praline when I lost her almost 9 years ago. The pain for me was too great to bring her back home after I helped her to the Bridge. My thoughts are with you are you grieve another one of your special cats.

    Paula and the Girls

  25. Farewell, dear Clyde, you were much and utterly loved and will always be close to your loved furmily in their hearts.

    I too wish there were more vets who would be willing to ‘help’ furbabies make their last journeys at the place they know and loved to be in.

  26. There will be some who do not understand, because death has become too unnatural in our modern world. Rituals were meant for a reason. Where once wearing black would signify to the world we were in mourning that is forbidden and we are to move on as if we can so easily do so. Clyde had all the things in life that matter and now he does in death as well, but it is simply their shell for what made them special has moved on to another dimension. Humans are so akin to things staying the same, much like cats, so letting go of a being we love even if you truly believe their spirit stays is hard, we long for that shell to hold onto and be in the presence of. Be well and travel gently Clyde.

  27. Thank you for sharing this day with us,its had to let them go but when it is their time then letting go is what we do,I’m lucky that in the uk we are allowed to bury our bets in our gardens.all of my previous pets are in mine and so will any future pets as well as Speedy.Much love and many hugs are winging their way to you from us.Till we meet again Clyde RIP little man,xx Rachel and Speedy

  28. Clyde, I don’t know where you were before PAWS took you in, but I bet the best years of your long life were spent under Layla’s care. It was a pleasure to know you, sweet boy.
    You will live on in all our hearts.
    Love and sympathy to your family.

  29. Happy Trails to you, Dearest Clyde. I got a message just now that Cheddar Oleski will be waving to you every chance he gets. Happy Trails to you until you and Ched can meet up in the cat food bar in cat heaven. Emma Peel lived to 20. Ched lived to 2002-2019 – almost to 2020.

  30. Farewell Clyde. I know your parents pain and grief. I am glad you are in a better place while you wait. XXX

  31. Reading this particular blog breaks my heart. But, it’s strangely soothing for me to see that pulling the plug was done after considering all the options and that there was a meaningful burial ceremony. The abundance of love which he received is heart warming. I am sure that Clyde’s presence was valued throughout his lifetime and he made the lives of everyone around him happier and brighter. Rest in peace, Dear Clyde. Have a good time with all your kitty friends ❤

  32. A beautiful post..we have chosen cremation for our fur babies..however with our sheep it is too hard…instead a home burial…death is not an ugly thing in the midst of deep love and is a precious opportunity to give an honourable transition to a very loved family member..again our love to you all and Vale Clyde

  33. Clyde knew you were there to make his transition easier. I agree , sometimes letting them go ‘naturally’ is a long process and although Clyde may have felt he wanted that, I am sure the way he departed was much more comfortable for him and for you. There is never a wrong way when an animal is well loved, as the animal knows and so do their humans who always though question themselves.
    Your tribute to Clyde is wonderful and he will be missed…..

  34. You have written a brave and honest post and I have so much respect for this. How lucky to have the vet come to your home. I would just love that, really love that.

    Farewell Clyde, Black Cat and and Friend.

      1. Happy Rainbow Bridge… As I m writing this my youngest cat, Peonia is curled up on my lap… I could not stop tears as I read your sad post… All my love to you from Manu and kitties Maggie and Peonia… From Italy…

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