In Memory of Claude
July 1998 – August 17, 2013
Rescued from Hillside, NJ RR bridge – August 1998
He had only 3 places to go. Over the fence and a 100′ drop to the railroad tracks below, into the traffic crossing the railroad bridge, or into my hands. He chose to climb the fence. Thanks to the help of a kind passerby, the tiny feral kitten ended up in my hands. In fact, he ended up squalling loudly while I held him against my left shoulder with one hand and drove the rest of the way to work. It was a day when I normally didn’t come in to work, on a route I never went but for the backed-up traffic that day. I even passed him by, thinking he was a crumpled piece of paper – that’s how tiny he was – before my brain went “KITTEN!” and I backed up for a closer look.
In our Medical Dept., he was assessed at 5 weeks old, too young to get shots and at risk of becoming very ill in the city shelter. So I decided to take care of him until he was old enough to be adopted. He stayed with me in my office during the day and I took him home at night. I’d set him up a huge dog crate with blankets, food, water, litter – everything he needed. He was so tiny I was afraid he’d get lost or trapped somewhere in the house. And he screamed. I shut the door to the room, let him out, and Claude made a beeline for my pit bull terrier Chloe’s chin and curled up underneath. From that moment on they became inseparable … he found the mom he’d always needed.
My thoughts of putting him up for adoption in the shelter were abandoned in the face of their devotion to each other, and that’s how Claude’s life began – loved by his dog and human moms.
Claude was a healthy and very happy, easygoing guy. He survived Chloe, who passed away at 15-1/2, as well as his two cat buddies Mewsette and Gypsy Rose who left us in the last year and a half. He was without a doubt the nudgiest animal I’ve ever known, but also beyond affectionate, cuddly, funny and extremely trusting. He stretched out anywhere on his back, totally vulnerable, knowing he was always safe and loved. And did I mention vocal? We won’t even go there.
Life was sweet for Claude until a little over a week ago when he experienced a mild, seizure-like event. Unfortunately, these progressed rapidly and in number and severity that it became clear there was only one thing to do. I told him where we were going Saturday morning and what would be happening. I bathed us in white light and asked who would meet Claude on the other side. In a heartbeat I saw Chloe … her bunny ears up, eyes bright, and she was dancing from side to side, so eager to see her “baby” once again.
Claude left peacefully in a second to join his mom and left me to reflect on how lucky I, as well as he, was that day when I was sent to work the “back way” and over a railroad bridge where someone needed desperately to be found.
Home will never be the same without you, Claudie.