Max, aged abt 1yr, sitting in the willow tree in North Carolina. Yes, seriously.
That was the entire reason for going to the shelter in about February 1998, was to get Mark a cat, since the ones we had were obsteniously all mine. Standing there in the cat room, with cages full of cats and kittens meowing at us, I told him it was his choice, to pick one.
There was a cage on the top row, full of a litter of white kittens with black spots, and one lone black tuxedo kitten. They looked to be roughly 5-6 weeks old. The lone black kitten furiously climbed the door to the cage and clung there, batting at Mark as he stood there laughing at him.
'That's the one', he said. And thus Emperor Maximilliean Amandas Von Reinfelden III- named both for his imperious attitude right from the start and Mark's SCA persona- came home with us.
Right from the start it was obvious he was going to be mine. He started climbing up to my shoulder, preferably the right one if you please, and kneading my hair, all the while purring like a motorboat. He did this for the next 15 years. He'd stand next to me, meowing insistantly to be picked up, stretching his paws for my hair. At night, he'd climb up on the bed, claim half of my pillow, and sleep there, purring loudly in my ear, with one paw stretched down to rest against my shoulder as I laid there reading. As soon as I turned the light off, off he'd go to sleep elsewhere.
Aries showed up in the yard about a week after we brought Max home, and Max took to him as if they were from the same litter. Aries also became Mark's cat.
Even after we moved to Virginia, Max was my cat. He never stopped with the wanting to snuzzle- as I called it- in my hair, with wanting attention on HIS terms and no less. He was imperious in that way.
6 to 7 years ago, Max got sick. At the time it was a simple blockage in his urinary tract, comprised of crystals. Our vet took excellent care of him and he was fine for a few years. Then about 4 years ago, he got sick again. This time it was more serious, as my rotund boy had simply stopped eating on his own. It appeared that he had Feline Fatty Liver Syndrome and needed to be force fed. That was a week of sheer hell, for both of us. I finally ended up breaking down and he got a feeding tube.
It took about a month, but finally, finally Max started eating on his own again. We changed their diets, they went to raw food. We tried getting him to lose weight, but because Max, while imperious, is also very lazy, he never really lost the weight. He would always trundle his way up or down the stairs for breakfast or dinner and immediately flop himself down as if to say, ok, I've arrived, now feed me. For 15 years he did this. Though, he did play sometimes, but that was in spurts and rarely lasted longer than 5 minutes as he'd eventually bat the toy out of his reach and was too lazy to go after it.
When Morrigan adopted us and moved in a little over 3 years ago, he accepted her with impossibly good grace. Which is to say, for the first year or so, he ignored her. It was only this year that he would deign to sleep next to her. I have photos of all three of them crowded together on the little corner desk upstairs, all sleeping together. I never got to upload them.
The last photo I would take of Max, on Jan 3, 2013
He was fine Tuesday night. He came downstairs that afternoon, sprawled on my desk and deigned to allow me to brush him. Since he was so big, he would get mats where he couldn't reach. So I spent a good 20 minutes listening to him growl and snarl at me, in between purring, while I brushed him. Then he clambered off my desk and trundled off upstairs in search of food.
Later that evening, after we had eaten dinner, he and Aries both were downstairs, Max on the arm of the couch next to me, Aries on the other arm, next to Mark. He was purring loudly like usual. I made the comment that for once, we had an equal number of sexes in our house. I gave Max lots of scritches.
Caena and Morrigan started to play, with Caena racing around the coffee table, and Max, on the arm of the couch, hissing and snarling at her like he always did.
We fed them and he wandered away upstairs again. Several hours later, I went up to go to bed, and gave them their evening snack, complete with a pinch of flake fish food- our pets are very spoiled. he was fine and devoured his snack like usual. I went to bed and read for a bit after watching some TV with Mark. Max never came to bed that night. I noted it, but honestly, he's picky, sometimes he doesn't want extra attention at night. So I didn't go check on him. I still wish I had, even though I know, it likely would not have changed anything.
I only knew something was wrong when I got up the next morning and he never trundled his way downstairs for breaksfast. I checked on him, calling his name. He didn't move and I had that knot of cold in my stomach. I touched him and knew. My Maxer kitty had decided to leave us.
He left as he lived- HIS way. He looked as if he simply went to sleep and just never woke up again. His eyes were closed, his face was relaxed, he was in his common pose of stretched out on his side. He just decided to leave us, on his own terms.
But what hurts the most is that I never got to say goodbye. THAT is the deepest pain. The loss I feel is different from the loss I felt when Dante left me. Mostly because Max was there, but he was there on HIS terms, whereas Dante was there all the time. There's so much more I could share about him- how he'd always manage to lay on any quilt work I did, how he liked to get in the way of beadwork on my desk, the way he was just so MAX.
I miss you, Milkspot. Who's gonna put knots in my hair now?