Pondering the Pavement

October 5, 2009

An Ending Begins

Filed under: Uncategorized — cfilius @ 1:29 am

Like Noah learned, everything comes in twos. You can’t have an up without a down, a left without a right, love & understanding without conservatives, joy without sadness. So, with that thought in mind, I begin my adventures in “blogdom” by telling you about the loss of my beloved feline, Max.

“Cats are smarter than dogs.
You can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.”

Jeff Valdez


Max the Blunder Cat 1992 - September 22, 2009

Max the Blunder Cat (1992 – September 22, 2009)

Max lived life at his own nearly undetectable speed. Life would certainly never give him the bends. This is why I was so shocked when the vet diagnosed that he had a hyperactive thyroid. How a cat that lackadaisical could have a hyperactive anything was beyond me. I honestly don’t believe Max was lazy. He merely had his own agenda, as any cat owner (as if there really is such a creature) can attest. Max had an attitude that screamed “If it doesn’t have to be done then don’t do it…and if it does need to be done just let someone else do it for you.” Amen, little guy.

Max came to me 3 years and nearly 8 months ago through the friend of a friend. His arrival couldn’t have been more ideal. I had just suffered a heart attack a couple of weeks earlier. I needed something else to focus on instead of myself. Max was a very cathartic blessing. He was more aloof than my earlier cats, VanGogh (yes, he had both ears) and Furball (yes you read that right), but he seemed to adjust to his new surroundings at his own pace. For the first month he lived under my bed only showing himself for meals and litter box breaks (for which I’m grateful let me tell you…). I would scoop him up in my arms, much to his furry chagrin, and attempt to make him feel safe. I swore to him, first and foremost, that I would never, under any circumstance, make him wear any sort of absurd creepy outfit. A cat has far too much dignity for such a thing.

Not to mention Max had claws and knew where I slept…

I dragged the poor guy from the heavenly surroundings of California to the world’s largest litter box known as Arizona. After nearly three years there—and right around the time he’d almost forgiven me for the initial move into red dirt hell—I did it to him again. This time I yanked him to the east coast. And boy was he mad.

For the first half of the trek he refused to have anything to do with me. With my car fully loaded, he had the luxury of totally exclusive use of the passenger seat and floor. His cozy little bed was on the seat while his litter box remained on the floorboard. I told him to think of it as a split-level kitty RV (for the record he was unimpressed by the analogy). Max was so pissed off at me, in fact, that he opted to lounge in his litter box, the spot of the greatest distance between us, and not sit next to me. If that wasn’t enough he even sat with his back to me! Cats can make a bold statement without meowing a syllable.

Max_EAfter taking a break for a couple of days with a friend in Dallas, Max mellowed out a bit. He spent the rest of the ride right behind my legs as I drove. Every once in a while I would glance down and see him with his paw on the brake pedal. “Dude,” I said, “If I have to slam on the brakes you’re gonna lose a paw!” That didn’t seem to faze him. With Max it was all about control with minimal effort.

Everyone has a hobby. Max’s happened to be shedding. He was exceptionally good at it so why wouldn’t he want to flaunt it at every turn? After one day on the road the interior of my car appeared to be covered in wall-to-wall shag carpeting. My Matrix had turned into a four-wheeled mechanical Pig Pen, from Peanuts fame. If you touched the car you’d see puffs of fur spewing forth like a hairy hurricane. I was zipping through New Mexico with my window down. I thought it would be a great idea to roll down the passenger window to get a cross breeze going. So, the window went down and instantly a huge cloud of fur was sucked out on the already desolate New Mexico terrain. I’m convinced that if someone was driving behind me they would have called The Humane Society, thinking I had chucked my cat out the window!

At the ripe old age of 17 Max’s system just wasn’t what it used to be. He stopped eating within days of our arrival. He spent most of his time under my bed, as he did when he first came to me, or my drawing table. When I would be working he would make a point to slide under my chair where he would purr himself softly to sleep. I would reach down from time to time to scratch his head or his butt, depending on how he positioned himself. This seemed to ease his breathing a bit. I sprawled myself out on the floor next to him last night and, while stroking his head, I told him that if he needed to go it was OK. He did not have to stay for me. As much as I want him here I do not want him to suffer, which he clearly was. Who knew that this would be the one time he actually listened to me? In the wee hours of this morning, around 5am, Max took my advice and slipped away quietly. How can a cat both heal a heart and break it, too?

snoozeMy trek east was at the same time as my move west in 1997. Max was born, I found out a few days after he passed, on the east coast. So we came full circle together. And, to be honest, I’m very uncertain of just how to go into the next stage without Max snoozing under my chair. I am comforted, however, that his love will always be with me. Yes, his loss is a tragedy in my life. But I can’t fathom all I would have lost if I had never had him in my life at all. Hug your furry friends a little tighter tonight. You’ll be glad you did.

I love you, Max. You’re the best.

“It doesn’t do to be sentimental about cats;
the best ones don’t respect you for it.”

Susan Howatch

Copyright © 2009, Charles A. Filius

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