My Cat Maxie

Posted at: 2011-05-17 05:20
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Just after I bought my first house, I phoned my parents and told them excitedly, “I’m getting a roommate!”

Dad, who was ever so hopeful since I had been single for a few years, promptly asked, “What’s her name?”

When I answered “Maxine,” there was stunned silence on the line for maybe 10 seconds. They’re old-fashioned in many ways.

Then Mom asked in a quiet voice, “So, you decided to rent out your spare bedroom?”

I responded, “No, it’s more like I’m taking her in,” and there was more silence.

I broke the silence this time and said “She’s got long, brown hair and big, beautiful eyes.” And taking pity on them at last, added, “And a long, bushy tail.”

They twigged.

Maxie on counter

Later that year, Maxie supervised while I assembled a guest bed. She was in the middle of everything – she pawed the piles of screws and dowels to stress test the small parts. She’d be on top of the frame immediately after I added each part to make sure it was strong enough to hold her weight. And she stayed on even when I was using the hammer. Best of all, she decided when was break time.

Then, when I was putting on the bedding, she’d be on top of the sheet, rolling around, playfully batting at my hands as I tucked, chasing wrinkles as I smoothed. I’d shoo her off to put the next layer on. As it was wafting down and before it even settled, she’d jump on top again and the whole process was repeated. For every layer.

She adopted the bed as hers, and would sleep there sometimes, nestled snugly amongst the throw pillows.

Maxie closeup

That was seventeen years ago, and she was with me all the way through three houses, two cities, two more cats, a wife and a daughter. I can hardly remember a time before her. As of a couple of weeks ago, though, she is no longer my roommate. She passed away quite suddenly as her kidneys gave out from old age.

Maxie was a Maine Coon, a large, rugged cat with a thick, shaggy coat of browns and black with a mackerel tabby pattern and a white chin. And big, beautiful eyes that changed from yellow to green later in life.

And she loved life. Food, especially, was important to her. Whenever I ate, she insisted on smelling absolutely everything, and sampling a lot of it. Even things that I was sure a cat wouldn’t eat, like hummous. Whenever I arrived home she would smell my breath to see what I had been eating.

I was her favourite toy. Especially when I had a stick with a string, and on the end of a string was a pair of feathers that would spin when pulled through the air. It would “thrum” like wings beating, and would drive her wild. She’d chase so hard and so long that she’d pant like a dog.

Maxie with her eyes closed

We had our ups and downs. For a while, her liver was causing problems but was finally settled with some special food. Her brother, Monty, could be a bully at times. She showed her stress in ways I didn’t always appreciate, but we were always tight.

Especially tight when she curled up on my lap for a long winter’s purr, and maybe to snooze a bit as I worked at the computer or watched a TV programme. Maxie was always ready with a purr, the loudest I have ever heard. With few exceptions, she’d always been a one-man cat, and would sit in no other lap.

It was hard to say goodbye as she lay on the table at the clinic. My wife and I could not believe that it was her time. We scratched her chin as she looked around the room one last time before laying back down on the pad. We will miss her so much. My first cat, and always the best. Seventeen years is a long time, but we want longer. Even though she’s no longer our roommate, she’ll always be with us, and we will be better for it.

Maxie asleep on the floor