Apr. 29th, 2005

la_belle_laide: (D)
My Dad called me at work today to tell me that Max had died in his bed this afternoon. Everyone knew it would be soon, so it wasn't a shock, but it's never an easy thing when it actually happens. My Mom couldn't talk to me, she was so upset. I hung in there for most of the day at work, even most of the day at home, and even talking to my Mom afterwards, but now I just sat down to scan some pictures and I can't stop crying over it. See, because Max is a kind of legend, and it's going to be really hard to get used to not seeing him.

My Mom brought Max home on my first day of tenth grade. I knew she had gone to look at kittens at the shelter, but I didn't know (nor did she) that she would pick one out that day. When she picked me up from school (I couldn't take the bus, by the way,) she didn't mention it right away, either. But sitting in the passenger seat, I heard something meow from my Mom's hair. She lifted up her hair and showed me this little orange tabby kitten on her shoulder. She said she had to take him; he was the only orange in a cage of witchy black cats, and they were all beating him up. (I thought, "This is great; my cat is a witchy black cat, the kitten is going to be afraid of him!") Worse yet, the staff had named him "Buttercup" and she felt that was why he was such a pushover. She wanted to give him a tough sounding name to compensate for his apparent sissiness, so she called him Max. Int hose first days, Max used to hide in the sleeve of my denim jacket while I was wearing it. Then he'd poke his little orange head out of the cuff.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Two things we learned right away. One was that Max wasn't afraid of my witchy black cat, Economy. Economy did his hissy, puffytailed thing to Max for a few minutes, but Max loved him anyway, from the start. When Economy went to sleep, Max followed him into his bed. Economy tolerated him for a while, but soon he full-on loved him. Max and Economy became best cat friends.

My witchy black cat, Economy:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The other thing we learned was that Max wasn't a sissy by any means. He was a tough nut, and not afraid of anything, not Economy, not dogs, not people. (He also loved my Irish Setter, who used to lick him till he was wet all over.) When he was a kitten, one of his favorite things to do was to hide behind a wall by a doorway and wait for people to pass by, at which time he would leap out and grab their ankles or calves. This habit of hiding and attacking earned him the nickname "Kato." More creampuffier nicknames were "Maxikin" and "Kittenface," because all through his adult life--even with his attitude--his face always had this heartshaped, kittenish look to it.

Okay, not always.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I took that picture of him as we was yawning one day about fifteen years ago, and it's still one of my favorite pictures of him.

Max had a lot of quirks (an enduring fear of shoes was one of them; he would jump literally straight up in the air from all fours if you made a sudden "sss!" noise when he was near shoes,) but was famous among family members for two things: Paper-fetching and The Obstacle Course. Paper-fetching is not exactly what you might think--he didn't go out and get the paper. But he was obsessed with paper, especially crumpled paper, and if you threw it to him, he would chase it and bring it back to you. But it wasn't that simple, though. First you had to crinkle it up. He loved the sound of crinkling paper; it made him freak out. His whiskers would stand out in front of his face, his ears would perk up, his eyes would glaze over, and he'd twitch his head all around like he was trying to determine which way you were going to throw it. But then you couldn't just throw it, you had to hit it off the palm of your hand a few times so he could watch it go up and down, and then smack it across the room. And then Max would tear across the room chasing it, usually skidding out and sliding into the wall and then bouncing off. Then he'd swat the paper around a few times so it would fly some more, bite it, roll onto his back and try to gut it, and then finally bring it back to you in his teeth. He'd run up to you and ram his skull into your leg and then spit the paper out at your feet. (You had to grab it quick, because he'd still try to swat it.) If you ran the paper up the wall, he'd do that head-freaking out thing, and then he'd leap up the wall to grab it, and then slide back down. Max would do the paper-fetching game for hours if you let him.

His other big trick was, as I said, the Obstacle Course. This would start in the laundry room. Max would tear up the stairs and over the railing. Then he'd leap up the wall of the doorway, grab it with all four paws, and slide down. Then he'd take a few seconds to frantically scratch the faux-brick wall my Mom had in the kitchen (with his ears plastered back, as if he hated it but couldn't help himself,) and then a second later dart away from the wall, under the chairs, into the living room and onto the back of the couch. There he would always stop and look at the chandelier in the dining room.

Okay, not always. There is actually this other Max Legend. One night he didn't stop on the back of the couch. He decided to realize his dream and keep going. I only sort of saw it happen. My cousin Celia was living with us at the time (so it had to be around ten years ago when Max was eight.) Celia and I were nightswimming, and from the pool you could see up into the dining room window (it's on the second floor.) The windows were open and we heard a kind of yowl, so we both happened to look up. What we saw next was the chandelier swaying like crazy, and dangling from the bottom of it, holding on with his front paws, with his back legs all splayed like in the cartoons, was Max. And on the second upswing, he pulled the entire glass chandelier--the entirefixture--right out of the ceiling. And then he hid for about a week.

When Economy died (suddenly, of liver cancer,) on May 11th of '95, Max became a very angry kitty. While he still did paper-fetching and Obstacle Course, he was much less friendly with people he didn't know. Actually, even with people he did know. He became what could only be described as crotchety. He loved you one minute, and swatted you the next. Rubbed his head on your leg one minute, and turned around to grab your ankle in the kitty death grip in the next.

When I started working at the hospital, and the whole family started boarding their pets there whenever we went away, Max became legendary there, too; legendary for being one of the most difficult clients to deal with. One young girl who worked there claimed that she could win over any cat by using a special tone of voice, and her pure love of kitties from her pure heart. No matter what anyone there told her, she was convinced that she would have Max purring and rubbing all over her. So she got up in Max's grillpiece and said some babble words to him. Max nailed her right in the face and left five cartoon-perfect claw marks. Most people there were afraid of him, or at least wary around him (he was fast with his paws,) but at least one of my co-workers (Nancy, a full-on catlady,) loved him for these same reasons. She said he was unrepentently nasty and he told you that from the beginning. I admired that in Max, too. When he was pissed, he didn't mess around.

It's fair to say that Max had a long, priviledged life, undisturbed by illness until the last five days or so. It's hard to believe that this is my goodbye to him. Maybe it's stupid to invoke manga at this point, but then, some people would argue that it's stupid to have written so long about a cat. Anyway, I posted this pic last year, too, I think about the time when I lost my other two cats. Either way, it remains one of my favorite images and favorite thoughts:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
la_belle_laide: (D)
My Dad called me at work today to tell me that Max had died in his bed this afternoon. Everyone knew it would be soon, so it wasn't a shock, but it's never an easy thing when it actually happens. My Mom couldn't talk to me, she was so upset. I hung in there for most of the day at work, even most of the day at home, and even talking to my Mom afterwards, but now I just sat down to scan some pictures and I can't stop crying over it. See, because Max is a kind of legend, and it's going to be really hard to get used to not seeing him.

My Mom brought Max home on my first day of tenth grade. I knew she had gone to look at kittens at the shelter, but I didn't know (nor did she) that she would pick one out that day. When she picked me up from school (I couldn't take the bus, by the way,) she didn't mention it right away, either. But sitting in the passenger seat, I heard something meow from my Mom's hair. She lifted up her hair and showed me this little orange tabby kitten on her shoulder. She said she had to take him; he was the only orange in a cage of witchy black cats, and they were all beating him up. (I thought, "This is great; my cat is a witchy black cat, the kitten is going to be afraid of him!") Worse yet, the staff had named him "Buttercup" and she felt that was why he was such a pushover. She wanted to give him a tough sounding name to compensate for his apparent sissiness, so she called him Max. Int hose first days, Max used to hide in the sleeve of my denim jacket while I was wearing it. Then he'd poke his little orange head out of the cuff.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Two things we learned right away. One was that Max wasn't afraid of my witchy black cat, Economy. Economy did his hissy, puffytailed thing to Max for a few minutes, but Max loved him anyway, from the start. When Economy went to sleep, Max followed him into his bed. Economy tolerated him for a while, but soon he full-on loved him. Max and Economy became best cat friends.

My witchy black cat, Economy:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The other thing we learned was that Max wasn't a sissy by any means. He was a tough nut, and not afraid of anything, not Economy, not dogs, not people. (He also loved my Irish Setter, who used to lick him till he was wet all over.) When he was a kitten, one of his favorite things to do was to hide behind a wall by a doorway and wait for people to pass by, at which time he would leap out and grab their ankles or calves. This habit of hiding and attacking earned him the nickname "Kato." More creampuffier nicknames were "Maxikin" and "Kittenface," because all through his adult life--even with his attitude--his face always had this heartshaped, kittenish look to it.

Okay, not always.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I took that picture of him as we was yawning one day about fifteen years ago, and it's still one of my favorite pictures of him.

Max had a lot of quirks (an enduring fear of shoes was one of them; he would jump literally straight up in the air from all fours if you made a sudden "sss!" noise when he was near shoes,) but was famous among family members for two things: Paper-fetching and The Obstacle Course. Paper-fetching is not exactly what you might think--he didn't go out and get the paper. But he was obsessed with paper, especially crumpled paper, and if you threw it to him, he would chase it and bring it back to you. But it wasn't that simple, though. First you had to crinkle it up. He loved the sound of crinkling paper; it made him freak out. His whiskers would stand out in front of his face, his ears would perk up, his eyes would glaze over, and he'd twitch his head all around like he was trying to determine which way you were going to throw it. But then you couldn't just throw it, you had to hit it off the palm of your hand a few times so he could watch it go up and down, and then smack it across the room. And then Max would tear across the room chasing it, usually skidding out and sliding into the wall and then bouncing off. Then he'd swat the paper around a few times so it would fly some more, bite it, roll onto his back and try to gut it, and then finally bring it back to you in his teeth. He'd run up to you and ram his skull into your leg and then spit the paper out at your feet. (You had to grab it quick, because he'd still try to swat it.) If you ran the paper up the wall, he'd do that head-freaking out thing, and then he'd leap up the wall to grab it, and then slide back down. Max would do the paper-fetching game for hours if you let him.

His other big trick was, as I said, the Obstacle Course. This would start in the laundry room. Max would tear up the stairs and over the railing. Then he'd leap up the wall of the doorway, grab it with all four paws, and slide down. Then he'd take a few seconds to frantically scratch the faux-brick wall my Mom had in the kitchen (with his ears plastered back, as if he hated it but couldn't help himself,) and then a second later dart away from the wall, under the chairs, into the living room and onto the back of the couch. There he would always stop and look at the chandelier in the dining room.

Okay, not always. There is actually this other Max Legend. One night he didn't stop on the back of the couch. He decided to realize his dream and keep going. I only sort of saw it happen. My cousin Celia was living with us at the time (so it had to be around ten years ago when Max was eight.) Celia and I were nightswimming, and from the pool you could see up into the dining room window (it's on the second floor.) The windows were open and we heard a kind of yowl, so we both happened to look up. What we saw next was the chandelier swaying like crazy, and dangling from the bottom of it, holding on with his front paws, with his back legs all splayed like in the cartoons, was Max. And on the second upswing, he pulled the entire glass chandelier--the entirefixture--right out of the ceiling. And then he hid for about a week.

When Economy died (suddenly, of liver cancer,) on May 11th of '95, Max became a very angry kitty. While he still did paper-fetching and Obstacle Course, he was much less friendly with people he didn't know. Actually, even with people he did know. He became what could only be described as crotchety. He loved you one minute, and swatted you the next. Rubbed his head on your leg one minute, and turned around to grab your ankle in the kitty death grip in the next.

When I started working at the hospital, and the whole family started boarding their pets there whenever we went away, Max became legendary there, too; legendary for being one of the most difficult clients to deal with. One young girl who worked there claimed that she could win over any cat by using a special tone of voice, and her pure love of kitties from her pure heart. No matter what anyone there told her, she was convinced that she would have Max purring and rubbing all over her. So she got up in Max's grillpiece and said some babble words to him. Max nailed her right in the face and left five cartoon-perfect claw marks. Most people there were afraid of him, or at least wary around him (he was fast with his paws,) but at least one of my co-workers (Nancy, a full-on catlady,) loved him for these same reasons. She said he was unrepentently nasty and he told you that from the beginning. I admired that in Max, too. When he was pissed, he didn't mess around.

It's fair to say that Max had a long, priviledged life, undisturbed by illness until the last five days or so. It's hard to believe that this is my goodbye to him. Maybe it's stupid to invoke manga at this point, but then, some people would argue that it's stupid to have written so long about a cat. Anyway, I posted this pic last year, too, I think about the time when I lost my other two cats. Either way, it remains one of my favorite images and favorite thoughts:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

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