In Memory of Max

It’s a tough thing to lose a pet who’s been such a part of every moment of every hour of every day for the last 10 years. 10 years isn’t the longest life, but it’s certainly a good run.

We got Maxine when she was a couple years old and in need of a new home. Two friends I worked with weren’t able to move to places that allowed cats, so — true to form — I unknowingly volunteered my parents, they initially resisted but promptly fell in love with her and she quickly had a new residence.

My parents had her for most of the time, and as she entered a more difficult period in her life sometime last year, with medication being given and bloodwork being done, I think we all knew we wouldn’t have her forever — but we also didn’t realize how soon she’d be gone.

She hadn’t been eating much the last few weeks, nor drinking much, and she’d been doing things typical of cats who know it’s “their time.” Looking for places to crawl into, hide under and just be away from everything. Thing is, she was mostly an indoor cat, save for a few chaperoned excursions in the backyard under the watchful eyes of my parents.

Sometimes I’d go up to their house to visit, and she’d be in the backyard with us. She’d sit on the swing and enjoy its motion, finding peace in the gentle back and forth. Or she’d sit on the grass under the bright sun, eyes closed and head lifted skyward with her nose working overtime, delighting in the different smells that drifted on the breeze. Such new and exciting scents for a mostly-indoor kitty!

So many memories with so few photos. Why does it seem we always wish too late that we’d taken more photos when someone or something is in the winter of its life? I suddenly thought back to a photo I had of Max that I showed her previous owners shortly after we adopted her — maybe a year or two later. They said she had gotten chunky; we thought she looked quite happy. I have no idea where that photo is, but it’s in my memory.

I found a photo of her tonight from when she was 3 years old or so, and she had those funny glowing cat eyes so often captured by a camera’s flash. Not the most flattering look for such a pretty girl, but she was happy to have posed for the picture.

In recent months, I’d learned she’d taken to crawling up on my dad’s chest for some quiet time in the evenings or on the weekends as he relaxed, stretched out in his recliner. She had dropped a lot of weight over what must’ve been a year or so; she’d gotten so bony, down to just over four pounds. I wondered earlier tonight if she found comfort in laying on him because of the warmth from his body, or because she felt maybe she felt a strong, sure heartbeat when her own health was on the decline.

Despite her health issues, she never lost her desire to communicate when she entered a room, generally emitting a dainty yet slightly raspy sound that seemed to be a combination of a regular meow, mixed with a cat’s version of, “Hey, how’s it goin’? And what am I missing out on in here?”

She was a people kitty. And we were kitty people.

We learned after some tests that our little girl was dealing with anemia, and enlarged kidney, enlarged spleen and a large, unknown mass in her abdomen, and in the end my parents were with her when she went to be in a better place. She passed away today surrounded by as much love, if not more, than she gave us all these years. My mom’s face was near hers, and my dad was petting her from the other side.

Tonight I am teary-eyed but beyond thankful for the memories we have of our talkative kitty Maxine, a.k.a. Max, a.k.a. Fuzz, a.k.a. Merow. I had my collection of names for her depending on her mood, but she’ll always have but one place in our hearts.

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