I've been writing a book about my cat Max ever since I first brought him home. I'm going to be sharing the chapters on the blog. Hope you enjoy this departure from my usual posts!
2013 was a tough year for me. I lost two out of my three beloved pets that year and the house felt sad and quiet. My dog, Lucy, was my favourite pet of all time. She was a husky-shepherd-golden retriever mix with the best characteristics of all three breeds. She was my best friend and constant companion. We went everywhere together, she was the light of my life and in January 2013, she was gone.
What did show up was Max. Maximilian Maine Coon Cat. He was a stray that had been found up a tree with a piece of wood stuck into his side on Halloween night. He must have been about 4-5 months old when he was turned in to the Animal Control Officer who asked me if I was thinking of getting another cat. I had only just lost Maggie two weeks before and I wasn't really keen on getting another cat as I'm really more of a dog lover. Max was so cute that I couldn't resist & I agreed to foster him until the owners could be found. So Max came home with me. It was November 1st.
|MAX - who could resist this face??!|
Max appeared the very day that I had decided to let go and let God decide if I was to get another pet. That very morning I woke up thinking that if I was meant to have another pet, it would just appear without me trying to make it happen and if it didn't, I wasn't meant to have another pet right now. I still had one cat and I didn't want her to be left all alone whenever I was at work. Eloise was Maggie's kitten but other than colouring, Eloise did not look like a Maine Coon at all. She was long-legged, short-haired, lithe, active and sweet. Maggie was none of those things...
Maggie had been beautiful but snappy and quick to take offence. I called her Ninja cat when she and Eloise first came to live with me because if you made the mistake of picking her up, she went into full attack mode – claws bared and no mercy. The family she had come from had 3 small children and they had been very mean to Maggie. That coupled with the fact that Eloise was still a kitten made Maggie very protective and vicious if she suspected any harm could come to Eloise. Added to that protective instinct was the fact that Maggie couldn't retract her claws, poor thing. Carpet was murder for her to walk on. Over the 12 years I owned her, she grew to love me and even though she never quite lost her wild side, I loved her dearly. It was like taming a wild beast, the bond is a little more special.
She was a large cat, topping the scales at 20 lbs at her peak but in the last year of her life, she dropped to 15 lbs. She was 13 years old when she left my side forever.
Eloise was 12 years old then and had never learned how to play with another cat. She adored Lucy and was used to the company of dogs, I had three when Maggie and Eloise arrived on the scene. Neighbours’ dogs hung out at my house, too, but Eloise loved Lucy best. She would sleep curled up at Lucy’s side purring incessantly although I suspect the good feelings were all on Eloise’s side.
|LUCY & ELOISE|
That first day there was a whole lotta hissing and spitting going on in my house. Nobody was very happy with the arrangement. It became apparent that I would have to separate the two cats until they could get used to each other. Eloise lived in the main rooms of the house and Max was relegated to the laundry/mudroom. He didn't like it ONE BIT. And my French door bore the brunt of his discontentment. He actually ate parts of it. There were splinters everywhere! Little did I know that was a sign of things to come... To keep him from attacking the house, I sat with him in the laundry room whenever I could. The things I do for my pets!
|THE REAL MAX REVEALS HIMSELF...|
Another down side to this arrangement was the extra litter box in MY bathroom. Ugh. Kitty litter is something I heartily dislike. I can put up with all the other cat stuff, but litter boxes. YUCK! So now there was a litter box, a scoop, a broom and dust pan in my bathroom. And Max, whenever he was released from his prison of the mudroom, made a beeline for that litter box and proceeded to flick litter helter-skelter as he tunneled to China. Sigh. What the heck was I thinking??
Every night when I got home from work and released Max, he would race out of the laundry room like a bat out of hell. His favourite thing to do was to tear down the hallway into my bedroom and leap onto the bed where he proceeded to fight with the faux fur throw, launch himself into the cushions and pillows and then bounce around like a jumping bean for half an hour. You’d think that would tire him out, but oh no, not Maxie. It seemed to egg him on. Evenings were not a relaxing time for Eloise and me anymore.
On the weekends, Max would sleep most of the daytime hours and become this snuggly, soft, furry love bug that wanted nothing more than to be as close to me as possible. He was so lovable in his sleepy moods. He began to tug at my heart in the way he had when I first laid eyes on him. Back when he was in shock from whatever chased him up that tree. Back when he gave the impression he was a calm, staid little fella that could get along with anyone and anything.
Colour me fooled.
By week four, I had had little sleep thanks to Eloise and her all-night-every-night antics. My patience was wearing dangerously thin. Max was always on top of Eloise, trying to wrestle her to the ground or jump on her back or tussle with her. He was quite aggressive already. I know that these are all things he would have done with his litter mates and they would have had a grand old time, but Eloise hated it.
I considered giving Max to the SPCA. He was still young enough to find a new home easily. No one had called, inquired, put a message on the radio or in the lost & found about him. He had either been dumped or born from a feral cat. Either way, I only had two options – keep him or give him away.
I gave him a deadline of December 10th. If there was no improvement in the relationship between the two cats, he was gone.
|MAX & ELOISE|
On November 29th, I decided it was time to see how the two cats would manage if they were both left together in the mudroom. I closed the door on them during the day and waited to see what would happen. After a few minutes, Max was sleeping in his box by the window and Eloise was crouched in the far corner. No fighting. Whew!
That night I made them sleep together in that space as well. There was some fighting but overall, it was okay and I got my first full night’s sleep since Max had become a part of our lives. After a couple of nights’ sleep, I was able to find the patience to deal with Max’s extreme energy.
The cats were now sleeping in the same space and I had some peace at night. Little Max got a stay of execution – so to speak.
End of Chapter One
If you want to read the whole series of the "Life with Max" posts, click HERE