Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A One Cat Master

A One Cat Master

I have a cat.  His name is Max.  He is 20 years old.  He is my first born.  He is my best friend. 

Max came home to live with us after we had been married a year.  We already had one cat, a girl named Silver.  Now I love cats, really love cats, but Silver and I didn’t see eye to eye.  First of all she loved my husband and was jealous of me.  She would hiss, bat and generally ignore me.  But I love cats, so I loved her.  We decided to get another cat to help.  We figured the reason she was ornery was because she was lonely as my husband and I were working all night and most evenings.  So we headed out to the nearest pet store and found the cutest little boy kitten.  He was tiny, a brown short haired tabby and the sweetest little thing.  He was challenged.  He couldn’t retrieve his claws.  We chose him.  Well, truth told he was the only boy available and I wanted a boy cat this time.  So we brought him home, but we needed a name?  We went to dinner (I do not remember where) but I remember the conversation.  What should we name him?  I am sure there was a litany of choices, but somehow we decided on Maxwell P.  Smart, due to his shall we say, mental challenges.  We called him Max for short.

Now, we lived in a trailer, not a mobile home as that would be too generous.  It was a thirty year old trailer in a trailer park.  We had a couch from Value City.  My husband had gutted it out to attempt to make it a decent living environment.  Max and I would play on the couch and then all of a sudden he would be asleep. Funny thing is, now that he is 20 years old, the situation is similar. 

Over the years as we lead busy lives yet Max is always there.  He is a simple, happy boy.  He doesn’t have many needs.  He is shy. He loves to eat.  He loves the outside.

Max is shy.  He loves his Momma.  My Dad had a deep sometimes loud voice and Max would hide from him as a kitten.  Whenever people came to our house Max could never be found.  Guests didn’t believe we even had another cat.  Nick would greet them at the door.  Hang out in the same room.   Allow the children to chase him, but not Max.  He would hide.  In later years because of hearing loss he is visible to anyone in the house because he can’t hear them.  He evens jump on a few strange laps now and then, but for the most part he hangs out with his Momma.   Every night while reading in bed Max will join me for a good book.  He will crawl up on my chest and paw the back of the book.  He either wants to read with me or doesn’t like the attention I am giving this strange animal.

Max loves to eat.  At one time he was overweight and we were concerned about his health.  At dinner time we had a rule, “two paw limit” so Max wouldn’t jump on the time with all fours.  As he grew older he developed a challenge with his thyroid.  At 20, he is losing weight.  He still cries for food, especially since he is deaf and doesn’t know he is actually yelling.  We feed him canned food now so he can chew easier.  I end up throwing away as much as I put in the bowl.  I think he licks most of it but actually eats little.    

Max loves the outside. We would put Max on a leash to go outside.  I tried to get him to walk on the leash, but he had no interest in that. Sometimes we would forget he was on the leash outside and go to bed, and then suddenly remember Max is outside.  One of us would jump out of bed and run to rescue him.  As I said, he loved being outside.  Although now at 20 he only goes out for short bits of time, perhaps two or three minutes, but he still loves being outside.

Max is a “one master cat”.  Last weekend, we rented a movie called “Red Dog”, a true story.  It is based in Australia in the 70’s.  At first glance I wasn’t sure it was an appropriate movie for my daughters, age nine and seven, but as the movie continued it focused on the extraordinary life of this dog.  They called him a “one master dog”.  He loved his master, and after his master’s death the dog waited for him and then roamed the countryside to find him.  His loyalty reminded me of Max.  Max loves me unconditionally.  Max is always there for me.  Max likes to sit with me in my sunroom while I pray and meditate.  If I am in the kitchen, he is often by my side hoping for a treat.  While watching T.V. he sits with me trying to find a comfy spot even with his arthritic hips.  Later in the evening while reading, although he cannot jump on the bed, he first hops on the nightstand first, then to the bed to join me for a good book. Then, at bedtime I find him already on his kitty condo or I gently carry him down.  In the morning, he howls to be let out and I carry him up the stairs.  Max is my guardian earth angel.  Besides my mother and my husband no one has journeyed with me longer with such love and devotion.  As we both grow older I cherish the moments we have together never knowing when the last day will come and I will no longer hear him purring by my side.  I think I am a “one cat master”. 

*Max passed away on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 21 years of age after having a stroke no longer able to see. 

He is forever loved and forever missed.             

Love, “with a heart of peace”,

Susan J. McFarland

October 2012  

Revised: February 2014     

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