BOOKS: The Best Cat Ever

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1994:

The Best Cat Ever, by Cleveland Amory. Little Brown & Co.,
(1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020), 260 pages, $19.95 hardcover.
The Best Cat Ever, the third and final
volume of Cleveland Amory’s trilogy which also
includes The Cat Who Came for Christmas and The
Cat and the Curmudgeon, eulogizes Polar Bear and
the warm relationship Amory enjoyed with him for
15 years. Since an aging, arthritic cat, however
personable, cannot supply enough material alone
for an entertaining book of this length, Amory
includes a lot of gossipy humor about his school
days and Harvard years, recalled as he takes Polar
Bear to his major reunions. He recounts for us also
his career as a TV critic, his attempts to endure the
Duchess of Windsor as an employer for the biogra-
phy she wished him to write, and similar tidbits.

Amory himself has suffered physical
problems in recent years. Readers will warm to his
story about Polar Bear’s smuggled night within hos-
pital walls and Amory’s bed––and his attempts to
guard his master from nurses he presumed to be
cruel in administering unpleasant pills and taking
blood samples. Many will recognize the unfortu-
nate truth of Amory’s conclusion that little can be
done to ease the pains of aging, either for humans
or cats. For felines the final foe is often kidney
failure, and so it was with Polar Bear.
Amory concludes with a sensitive discus-
sion of handling grief over a pet, including coping
with the insensitive comments of those who do not
understand love for a creature of another species.
He asks if what happens to animals after death dif-
fers from whatever happens to humans. Finally, he
acquired another pet, and I like his rationale for
why this was a proper deed from several perspec-
tives. May he write about his new Tiger Bear at
greater length, in good health for both.
––Phyllis Clifton
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