Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Cat Named Max

Cats are graceful creatures that never really have an owner, and I’ve told many stories about those that have occupied large places in my heart. One of them was a big Tom, a little special and just a bit more memorable than most.
All our acquaintances knew that Anne and I were cat people and rarely a week passed that someone didn’t try to give us one. We usually resisted, or else we would have had hundreds of cats instead of the handful for which we felt responsible. A cry for assistance occurred one day that we couldn’t ignore.
Friends of friends owned a small apartment complex, and someone had abandoned two cats in an upstairs apartment. A week had passed before the property owner found out and by this time the two felines were traumatized. Anne and good friend Bruce rescued them from the locked apartment after much ado and lots more trauma.
Both cats were solid white, one a young female, the older a grown male. Bruce fell in love with the little female and took her to care for. The big Tom was half-crazy from his stay in the apartment, and it was soon apparent that if Anne and I didn’t take him, we would have to have him put down.
We named him Max because there was a Mel Gibson movie out at the time called Mad Max and this new addition to our family qualified as more than a little wacky. Max was an American Bobtail/Siamese mix. He was white with slightly crossed blue eyes. He had only the semblance of a tail, and his hind legs were longer than the front ones. Even though fixed, Max had a heavily muscled torso and tufted ears that caused him to look like a white bobcat. Oh, and he was very strong.
For the first few days, we fed and watered Mad Max while giving him a wide berth. There were other cats in the family and soon he began to cozy up to us. He liked King Tut and followed him wherever he went. Tut was as regal as his name implied and I think he liked having a lieutenant around.
After a year or so, we noticed Mad Max was looking sick so we put him in the cat carrier and took him to Dr. Dugger, our friendly vet. He spent the day there, and when we picked him up, Dr. Dugger explained what had happened.
"Tailless cats tend to rub their rear ends in the grass and occasionally get plugged up. Max had an excretion ball that solidified to the point it wouldn’t pass. We gave him a sedative and then soaked his rear in warm water until we could extract it."
Dr. Dugger gave us some antibiotics for Max and the big boy was back to his normal self in a day or so. As time passed, he became an integral part of the family. He loved his daily full body strokes and began demanding his share of the attention. He was still sort of nuts, and if you rubbed him once too often, he would take a swipe at you with his powerful paw.
Another couple of years passed, along with the oil boom. Anne and I were struggling and had little money to go to the doctor or dentist, and the cats relegated to emergency only vet visits. One incident finally occurred that we had no money to let the vet remedy. Max had developed another petrified poop ball in his rear, and he was miserable by the time we noticed it.
"You’ll have to fix it, or he'll die," Anne said.
I knew she was correct. Drawing a bucket of very warm water, I pulled on a pair of gloves and prepared for the worst. I needn’t have worried. Powerful Max was too sick to fight. He didn’t even squirm when I lifted him and lowered his rear into the warm water.
I don’t know how long it took, but the petrified poop soon began to soften. I finally got hold of it with my gloved hand and worked on it until it finally came loose, Max and me both breathing huge sighs of relief as it did.
Max and I both survived the petrified poop ordeal, and he lived with us all together for almost ten years. He met his demise early one morning in a dramatic fashion. Anne was walking outside to get the morning paper when she heard a commotion in the garage. The cats liked to sleep there, roosted on the hoods of our car, and we always kept the door cracked so they could go in and out.
As Anne stood looking at the garage door, a large German shepherd came bounding out with Max in his mouth. Anne chased them down the street in her robe and nightgown, yelling at him to stop as she ran. The dog paid her no mind and quickly outdistanced her, disappearing down the block. We never found Max’s body.
Max was limp, his eyes closed when the large dog came running out of the garage with him. Our vet told us the dog probably killed him the moment he got him by the neck.
"He probably never knew what hit him and I’m sure he never suffered," Dr. Dugger told us, hoping to make us feel better.
Mad Max met his dramatic demise, hopefully without suffering. Anne and I consoled each other with the knowledge that he was a grown cat when we got him. He lived another ten very good years with people that cared for him deeply before the dog got him.
Yes, Max was a little different and slightly crazy, but we loved him despite his less than perfect qualities. He was a special cat, and sometimes you love special beings in ways hard to explain except in your heart.

Born near Black Bayou in the little Louisiana town of Vivian, Eric Wilder grew up listening to his grandmother’s tales of politics, corruption, and ghosts that haunt the night. He now lives in Oklahoma where he continues to pen mysteries and short stories with a southern accent. He is the author of the French Quarter Mystery Series set in New Orleans and the Paranormal Cowboy Series. Please check it out on his AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iBook author pages. You might also like to check out his website.

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