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On 2014 June 20 my veterinarian Krista Gibson said she had four kittens looking for homes. When I interviewed them they seemed delighted with their residence in her office, they weren't looking for homes anywhere else, she was the one who wanted to find homes for them, I picked a two-month-old orange tabby, and I named him Max. (I didn't realize how popular a name that was for pets until later, but I was happy to keep the name.) He was orange, he was golden, even his eyes were sort-of orange, and his nickname became Golden Puss.
Max was the "purr-fect" kitten. He used the scratching post instead of my furniture and he always peed and pooped in the box. He respected boundaries around my computer keyboards and my delicate hifi equipment. He played with his toys instead of household items. Most important he loved being with me. We fell into a routine that he got my full attention on my bed for ten-to-twenty minutes before I closed my bedroom door and retired for the night. Our thing was rubbing noses, so his idea of "face time" involved our literal faces. As a little kitten he had large paws which suggested to me that he was going to be a large cat.
Max was supportive of the older cats in my home. He enjoyed his time with my "Darkle Puss" Maria and was a source of positive energy to her just as she had been to old Brandon when she was a kitten. "What goes around comes around." Max spent time with old, crabby Penny as well. She didn't like me, but she seemed to enjoy Max's company.
Like the dinosaur in the theme-park video in "Jurassic Park," he grew rapidly from one to eight kilograms (two to eighteen pounds) and his place in my heart and life grew as well. He was large in life and larger than life. He liked being petted and caressed, he liked rubbing noses, he wasn't a lap cat and didn't like being held, but he would let me hold him for a minute or two because he knew I liked it.
When I opened my bedroom door to my cats in the morning (I don't sleep with animals that pounce on me at night), he came in just behind and let other cats get my attention first. He was gracious and courteous. He wanted to be on the counter when I did my morning rituals but he always moved over when I reached for shaver, asthma inhaler, and toothbrush. When I sat in my chair, he would almost always be next to me, sometimes on the back of the chair. He would let me pick him up and hold him on my lap with our faces together even though he didn't like being being picked up, because he knew I liked it.
Evenings were Max's time without discussion or debate. He was aggressively affectionate, a trait of orange tabby cats I'm told, especially rubbing my nose with his face over and over again. He would roll on his side and back and stretch out his enormous paws with their enormous claws and I was supposed somehow to get my face next to his. I got a few scratches that way, but we enjoyed our time together. Even when I was really tired and would have preferred just to go to sleep I enjoyed my time with Max, my Golden Puss, my Handsome Orange Kitty.
It was a few years ago, maybe more than a few years ago, that I was also an orange-haired extrovert.
When Maria's time came on 2017 July 13, Max was support for me (unlike Penny who still remained under the couch when I was around). His affection was warm and genuine and his large presence was a large part of my life. On 2017 July 20 when Devin and Jane came from Paw Placement (also Dr. Gibson's patients as kittens), Max hissed a bit the first day and was then a gracious host welcoming them into his home.
When I mentioned Max to my neighbor Sindoor she said, "I know Max. We see each other often through the window as I walk by your place." Even through the glass he could be a warm, special cat. She says, "I will definitely miss that cute face in the windows!"
The COVID pandemic panic was a blessing to me and my cats as we get to spend a lot more time together when I work from home. They piled up in front of one of my computer monitors and I learned to rely on the other one for almost all of my work.
When I was in Philadelphia 2022 May 11-16 Debbie from Animal Planners (email@example.com) took care of Max, Devin, and Jane. I don't know her magic, but when I come home from a trip in her care they're happy and they weren't when I had a neighbor take care of them. Whatever she does in the time she's with them at my house makes them happy and that makes me happy. 2022 May 19, Thursday, my friend Noah came by and spent some time with Max. Max had lost some weight, he turned down a bowl of tuna fish, he was still lively and happy Friday morning, and I planned to take him to the vet Monday morning, Friday evening he came to my bedroom for his usual evening snuggle, but he was definitely more tired than usual. Saturday he was nowhere to be found, I did a more-thorough search Saturday night, and I found his body hidden and tucked away in a cabinet.
Having pets is a promise to care for them. Brandon was ten, I think it was 1993, when he complained loudly, it turned out to be urinary-tract infection, common in male cats his age, the vet helped me with treatment and diet, and he lived another eleven years. I spent some time agonizing over the thought that maybe I missed something this time and lost a decade more with my cat Max. Debbie would have said something if she thought anything was serious, she's a professional pet-sitter, Noah said Max seemed fine, just a bit thinner, and my vet Dr. Krista Gibsen said there was likely nothing that would help. It was likely cardio-myopathy, a sort of heart attack, few symptoms and few remedies, and Max's dying days of discomfort were brief. We spent our eight years together wisely and well, I had a terrific time sharing his life, and he had a great life with me.
So here Devin, Jane, and I are "alone" in a house without Max. We miss him, but I can feel good that we got all the wonderful Max time we could and Max got all the good times he could from us. Except for about two months at the beginning, Max's entire life was with me and it was joy for both of us. I must be doing something right as my friends point out that wherever I am in my house is usually where my cats like to hang out.
Now we have Miss Pris, a small, twelve-year-old tortoise-shell cat who is still afraid of everything here. After two wonderful rounds with kittens I decided to bring in the older cat that nobody else was likely to want. She was sweet and affectionate with me at the Halo cat-rescue center. Older means less comfortable with change and it's going to take Miss Pris a while to warm up to being here and to being with me. She lets me pet her when she's cornered, but it may be a while before she comes to me for some snuggle time.
8:32:00 Mountain Standard Time (MST).
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