I ♥ cats! Most of my friends love cats too and the few that were either anti-cat or on the fence, tell me Mr. Max is the first cat they’ve ever met that they really like. Max has a way of winning over the most ardent cat hater.
Max has developed a bit of a fan club in the four years I’ve been blogging. If several weeks go by and he doesn’t show up in a post, I start to get comments and emails asking how he’s doing. So this post is for all the cat lovers and those who fall in the camp of Max’s Fan Club. Today I thought I’d share a little about how this sweet furry face came into my life.
I’ve always had a kitty, always. My last three cats went to kitty heaven at the ages of 16, 17 and 18. I waited a year or two after the last one, then one day I knew it was time. I hopped into the car and drove out to a local no-kill cat shelter. I was a little nervous as I walked through the large room where they let all the kitties roam free. Would I find THE ONE, the one that felt like my cat. Adopting a cat is a forever commitment. They are children, four legged children with fur. That purr.
The visit was a nice one but no one kitty stole my heart. The only criteria I really had in the back of mind was I didn’t want a cat that was white, or blue (gray) or a silver tabby. My last three kitties, all Persians had been those colors and they were completely irreplaceable. I was afraid getting a kitty the same color would remind me of them too much and make me sad.
After walking through the large kitty room and not finding one that felt like a good fit, I started to leave. As I got to the door, I turned to the shelter worker and asked if they had anymore cats elsewhere or expected to get any more in. She said, “Well, we have some cats over on the other side that have just come in, but they are still under quarantine and not ready for adoption.” I asked if I could see them.
She hesitated, then allowed me into a room filled with a long row of cages. This room was very different from the other kitty room. The other one had been much larger and the kitties were allowed to roam freely, lounging on shelves and cat perches everywhere. There were no kitties roaming freely here, just lots of metal cages. I could see some of the cages were empty but a few did contain an occupant. I walked slowly down the long row peering in, hoping to find the one that would say, “I’m yours, get me out of this place.”
I love big cats and one good-size kitty caught my eye. His coloring was very different from any cat I’d ever had. That was good…no reminders to make me sad. I asked to see him out of the cage. The shelter employee was reluctant, reminding me they weren’t ready for adoption, yet. I said I understood, but could I please just see him out of the cage. I can be persistent that way.
She opened the cage and pulled out a large, very thin cat. He looked scared and relieved, all at the same time. I loved his unique coloring, how big he was and his sweet face. As she held him in her arms, I reached out and stroked his silky, soft fur. I could feel his bones underneath. He was so thin.
I asked to hold him. The worker said, No, she couldn’t really allow that since he was still in quarantine. I promised her I wouldn’t touch any of the other cats. Then I asked, “How will I know if he’s the right one if I can’t hold him?” She relented and held him out toward me.
As I eagerly reached to take him, this large, pitifully thin kitty leaned out, grabbed hold to me and wrapped both his arms tightly all the way around my neck. With his little faced smashed up against my cheek, my heart melted. In all my years of having cats and snuggling with them, I’d never had a cat wrap their arms all the way around my neck like that. In that split second, I looked at the worker and said, “I’ll take him.” I had heard him loud and clear, “I’m yours, get me out of this place.”
Mr. Max had to stay in quarantine for two more days and it killed me to see her place him back in the cage, but the very first second they said I could bring him home, I did. There was never any “getting to know each other” time or awkward moments. Max acted like we had always been together and somehow had just been separated. They estimated he was around 3 years old then and that was back in 2000, so Max is around 15 now.
When I brought Max home, he was skin and bones. It was a joy to see him eat up a storm and fill out. For the first few weeks while I was at work during the day, he hid himself away in the small linen closet inside my master bath off the master bedroom. After about three weeks he graduated to hiding underneath my four-poster bed, only coming out when I was in the room. After another month or so, he felt comfortable enough to spend his days on top of the bed instead of under it.
He was still afraid to leave my bedroom…
…but after a few more weeks he grew brave enough to explore the upstairs. (Max in the Guest Bedroom)
Finally, after another month or two, he felt safe enough to come downstairs to the kitchen when I was cooking. He never showed any fear of our Golden Retriever, Jake, but teenage boys…that was something totally different.
I noticed right after bringing Max home, every single one of his little pink toes had a round, hole/sore about the size of a pencil eraser. Eventually the wounds scabbed over and healed. Our adopted fur babies can’t talk, so I don’t know what caused those sores. But what I do know is that for the next couple of years Max was absolutely terrified of teenage boys.
He had no fear of women or men, none at all. But each day when my son, Chip and his friends came bounding into the house and up the stairs to Chip’s room, calling out and talking to each other in their boisterous teenage boy ways, Max was terrified and dove under the bed to hide. If Chip came into the room to pet him, he was frantic to escape until he realized it was Chip. Then everything was okay.
It took 2-3 years for Max to get past his fear of teenage boys. I have often wondered if before he ended up at the shelter, if he had been tortured by some teenage boys. Could the round sores on his toes have been cigarette burns? They were about the right size. Whatever happened, those horrible memories seem to be gone now. Max hasn’t been afraid of teenage boys or anyone now for many years.
Max also got his purr back. Seriously! The first year or so after I adopted him, he never purred. I had never had a cat that didn’t purr. But after about a year, he began to purr and it’s the most wonderful sound. Have trouble falling asleep at night…get yourself a cat! Nothing will send you off to sweet dreams better than a purring furry face snuggled up against you.
Max has a hard life these days. Each morning when he wakes up, there are big decisions to be made. There are choices about where to sleep on the porch. Perhaps the wicker settee…
…or maybe a more secluded spot just right for squirrel and bird watching.
The porch is definitely a a great place to get a good chin scratch…
Or, to crash for a nap. Now you know the real reason it’s called Between Naps on the Porch.
Sometimes when snoozing, the humans think they are clever and sneak up…
But that’s okay…
Because Mr. Max loves to play.
After napping, it’s time for an afternoon bath…
Then it’s time to head upstairs to the office to get a little work done.
There are blog posts to be written.
Blogging is hard work and a cat gets thirsty.
Why go all the way downstairs when there’s a glass right here.
Do your cats do this when you leave the room?
After all that blogging, it’s usually time for another nap.
When the desk is too cluttered, there’s always the office chair.
Max loves the desk in the office. Look closely at this pic below and see if you can tell why.
He’s totally convinced it was designed this way for him.
After all that blogging and napping, it’s time to watch a little cat TV.
The Squirrel Show is one of his favorites.
When night rolls around, it’s off to bed, another full kitty day behind him.
Max is our second adopted kitty and he has been a blessing. There’s no way to describe the joy and love he brings into our lives. Pets are a big commitment but they give back tenfold what they receive. Adopt one if you can and if you can’t, please give generously to the shelters.
One of my very favorite shelters here in the Atlanta area is FurKids. They are a no-kill shelter and once when I found a stray that turned out to have feline aids, they were the only shelter of all the ones I called that was willing to take him if I was unable to find him a home. The hair sytlist of a friend of mine took him but I will never forget that FurKids was the only shelter willing to take him when no one else would. Not even the shelter where I had previously adopted two cats would help me out. If you live in Metro Atlanta, check out FurKids. They have both kitties and doggies available for adoption. You’ll find their website here: FurKids