Once upon a point of time on a wintry, icy February, Ron, my hubby, was leaving work. He opened his car when he heard a cry and looked down to see a scrawny little black cat weaving his way around his feet. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what happened next when you know what a tender heart my husband has when it comes to animals. Smile.
When Ron walked up the steps from the basement the first thing out of his mouth was, “Don’t be mad, but I’ve got a present for you.” At that instance, I’m thinking, uh, oh what is it? He unzipped his jacket and this little black head came out and meowed, and then ducked back in.
“It’s only temporary. Until the worst of the winter is over with,” Ron said. Who knew then that a love would blossom and last seventeen years? Days went by and the weather didn’t get any better, and the little cat didn’t gain any weight. We talked it over and decided to take him to the vet where we learned he had worms. Although, we still didn’t plan to keep him, we had him de-wormed. We also noticed the little cat wasn’t totally black, he had a white spot under his chin and in certain lights his coat had a red tinge to it.
The vet told us what we would need to do if we decided to keep the little cat, or if we didn’t where to take him. The little cat followed Ron around everywhere he went, and it wasn’t long before the cat crawled his way into our hearts. We started playing with him, and one day we sat down to talk about the cat and decided to keep him. At that point, I said, “We have to name him.” Maximillian was born, but we shortened it to Max or Maxie.
Max had his shots and was spayed after that decision. The vet guessed his age to be 1 ½ to 2 years old. The little fellow grew into a handsome young lad who strutted around the neighborhood ruling the other cats. One of our neighbors got a little yellow and white cat. One day, we saw Max sitting at the bottom of the tree looking up. Rusty was up in the tree and couldn’t figure out how to get back down. Lol Max went up to show him how to do it. It was so funny. Ron and I stood at the window watching and laughing.
Max would run up the steps to the loft and look down at Ron and I while we would throw a little rubber ball to him, which he would catch. He would pull it off his claws and throw it back. Another thing he did as a young cat was run up those stairs and get over by the wall and come down the wall onto the sofa. We had more fun with this fellow. It wasn’t long before we became Dad and Mom to him.
Always, he was dad’s boy, his main man, and I was second fiddle. Neither one of us knew cats could be so smart, but we came to realize that the more time we spent with him the smarter he became. Ron talked to Max like to one of the kids. Dad would tell him if he wanted to go outside he had to go to the door, and he would. As soon as Ron told him it was night-night time, Max went out into the hall and waited for dad to shut the television down and when Ron walked through the door Max made a beeline to race him up the stairs. Whenever Ron talked to Max, he listened attentively to him while staring at him. He still had a mind of his own so he didn’t always obey.
When Ron got mad at Max, he would run to me to tell me about it. I would say, “What did you do now, Max? Or, I would say, “Uh, oh, you’re in trouble again.” Lol But Max never held a grudge, he always went back to make up with his dad. He’d jump in the chair with him and rub his little head against him. When dad was on the ham radio, Max lay in the chair that sat beside dad and slept, but when he woke up, he demanded attention. Grin.
Max was a hunter. He caught birds and brought them to us. That was hard to handle because we loved birds, too. We started learning more about cats and learned this was their nature to hunt. Often times, the birds were alive and we would get them away from Max and release them.
One time, he caught a huge rabbit (much bigger than him) and he was dragging it to the front porch for us to see his prize. Both Ron and I ran out there and scolded him. Fortunately, the rabbit was only pretending while he planned his escape, and we gave him that chance. Afterwards, we laughed over little Maxie dragging that huge rabbit. We didn’t think it was so funny when he brought us bunnies, but most of those we were able to save, too.
One of the funniest things we watched him do was go after squirrels. As fast as he was, Max was no match for them, but he didn’t give up trying. One time, a baby blue jay fell out of the tree and Max got it. We managed to save it, but every time afterwards, when Max went out of the house those blue jays would bombard him. Lol I told him he deserved it, but Ron egged him on by calling him to the window to look at the birdies or letting him out and telling him to go get the birdies. Lol
A year or so ago, Max started loosing his sight, a little earlier than that Ron had discovered he had macular degeneration. Dad would talk to Max, telling him he was getting to be an old cat, and that they were two old dudes. Max became a little more dependent on us, and we would tell him not to go too far from home. Sometimes he minded us and other times he didn’t, but more often he did.
Every time Max wouldn’t eat, I just assumed he had a hairball, but a couple of months ago we noticed he was eating less and less. Dad kept telling him if he didn’t eat, he’d have to take him to the doctor’s. Max hated going to the vet, and he was terrified of cars (he never crossed the street without checking for cars) and he was scared of plastic sacks.
Last week, we took Max to the vet because he had quit eating and had lost so much weight. We found out his kidneys were failing. The doctor explained to us that he was losing body fluids faster than he could take in more, and that it wouldn’t get better.
He gave him a saline shot under the skin to see if this would make him better, and it seemed to help for two or three days, but then quit working. Maxie was sleeping more and not eating. He was getting weaker and we were afraid to let him outside longer than for about ten minutes because he might go too far and be too weak to get back.
We started talking about putting him to sleep when we realized he was starving to death and was becoming dehydrated. One day, we were going to do it, and then we would see him eat a bit and drink water, and we would decide not to because maybe he was getting better. Soon, we realized the smart little guy was moving his food around with his nose and making a hole in the middle of his bowl to make it look like he’d eaten. Most of the time, he would take a sniff of his food and walk off. He only tried to eat to please us.
Denial kept us from doing anything, but this past week we finally agreed it was time, but it was the hardest decision we ever made. We took him to the vet and stayed with him to the end. Max lay his little head in Ron’s hand, and Ron rubbed his body and I rubbed between his ears both of us telling him we loved him and we would never forget him.
We both cried afterwards, and then the “what ifs” sat in. What if the vet was wrong and that wasn’t the problem. What if he had longer than we thought?
The hardest thing to live with is that we made the decision to put him to sleep because he couldn’t. I liken this to a person on life support and family having to make the decision to pull the plug. In that instance, you can’t help but wonder what if. Somehow, you have to keep yourself from second guessing when you make a decision because whether wrong or right you have to live with it.
Our home is empty without Max. No little black face peering between the blinds as we drive down the driveway, no one to greet us when we open the door at the top of the stairs and no one to wake us up when something is going on outside at three o-clock in the morning. Usually, it was deer in the back yard or raccoons on the deck.
We will miss you Maxie. You were a well-loved little boy, dad’s main man and his Maxie cat and my baby boy. We gave you the best of both worlds. The more we learned about you, we knew you couldn’t be just an indoor cat, and for that reason we never had you de-clawed. We will miss you Maxie, you’ll always be in our hearts and we’ll always love you.
Until next Sunday have a great week folks.