Clancey never read the book on how to be a cat. You know, the one that says cats are aloof and discerning and they would never stoop to beg at the dinner table.
At least he never read those chapters. In some ways, he was all tomcat.
Clancey always came around for dinner, and even if I was eating something I knew he wouldn't like, he would insist on being the judge of that.
He liked roasted turkey. We ate a lot of roasted turkey to enjoy his company at the table. He never insisted or meowed. He just woke up from his nap, wandered over and sat down beside me. He was a wonderfully polite cat and big too. He had the long gene. Long body, long tail, long legs and long ears.
In the winter he liked to sleep on the bed next to my legs. His presence was so powerful; when he left I would think he was still there. I wonder how many hours I spent trying not to kick what was not there.
I think he had a bit of rag doll in him. It took me a few years to teach him how to be held in my arms. Finally he learned he could control my every move by squeezing his two front paws and claws around my finger. He knew how to hold hands.
He knew how to climb trees too, and that was a small problem after we moved here. Both cats became indoor cats because there are too many coyotes running around out here in the middle of the day.
The only problem, of course, is there are no trees in the house except around Christmastime, which is another story, so Clancey improvised using doors. He'd start running around the house real fast and then scale the French doors. The first time this happened I didn't know what I heard. So I crept down the hall and looked in the office, and this small meow came from over my head. He was on top of the door. "Clance," I said. "Get down from there." And he gave me this look like he didn't have the slightest idea how to go about it. Needless to say, I bought him a cat tower.
Clancey adopted us in 1995. His previous owner moved away and left him behind, perhaps figuring he could take care of himself. This is a common misconception people have. While some cats can hunt mice and find a ditch to hide in, most domesticated animals like house cats need to be taken care of.
Clancey came home with our other cat, White Paws, and seeing that he was a sweet cat looking lost, I fed him. And if you have ever fed a starving cat, then you know it's like signing a lifelong agreement that you will love, honor and cherish till death do you part.
Clancey passed away a couple of weeks ago. This summer he became quite sick with complications of feline immunodeficiency virus. The virus is transmitted through saliva and blood. Catfights, especially between toms, keep the virus swimming out there. Infected cats should stay indoors. There is no vaccination -- only prevention.
A couple of times we thought he might regain his health. He was so responsive to being touched. That was a chapter in the cat book that Clancey could have written: how to get your chin rubbed.
Now we only have memories of our big boy cat named Clancey, and we'll cherish them till the day we die.
[This column was published in September 2002. I still carry the picture in my wallet.]