Of mice and men and Max.  Forget the mice and men. 

 Max thinks it’s all about Max!


     Max is our cat.  Originally, she was free but we have paid dearly for her ever since she first owned us.


      To begin with, her name is Max because, when we first got her, we thought she was a guy cat, a male.  She soon proved she wasn’t but by the time we figured out her sex, the name “Max” had stuck.  Personally, I think “Maxine” would have been just as sticky but not so with my kids so she has been “Max” ever since. 

      Max first made her appearance on our front porch as a small black ball of fluffy kitten.  Sure, she was cute but we (my wife and I) had agreed we were not going to have pets, neither cat or dog.  Of course that rule had already been broken because we already had four goldfish and a turtle.  We would not have had goldfish except for the fact that we  had bought some goldfish for the  turtle (Hank) to eat.  Hank was still rather small and for some reason, would not eat more than one or two.  Both Hank and the gold-fish continued to grow, each in separate containers of course.  So……like I said, we already had no pets!

     I was to find out later from my pre-teen son that Max, the cute, little kitty had looked so hungry that he fed it a can of tuna while I was at work.  When I came home, the kitty was still hanging around and only after much inquiry, I found out the rest of the story. My son was not the only one to feed her a can of tuna.  My wife had also fed the kitty a can of tuna as well.  No wonder the little fur ball stuck around!  When I was asked by the rest of my family if we could keep the kitten, I stuck to my guns and said, “No”.  Evidently, my guns were shooting blanks because it wasn’t very long before Max took up permanent residence on the porch!  I don’t know how many cans of tuna we went through but enough that Max saw no need to look for food anywhere else.  I’m sure she was hooked that first day she received the double dose of canned fish she had been given.

     For an outdoor, front porch cat, Max sure spent a lot of time inside but at nights, she definitely stayed outside. I am humbled to say that rule lasted less than a week .  She moved in and went from canned tuna to bags of cat food. 

     If feeding her had been the end of the expenses we incurred on Max’s account, I might have been content to write her off as just another member of the family.  As expected, the expenses didn’t stop there.  That’s where they began. 

     Not so far into her life, Max’s hormones decided to wake up.  During all hours and especially in the middle of the night, Max sent up pathetic calls hoping to attract any stray tom-cat within 500 miles of our neighborhood!  What she attracted was my wrath.  I hated the noise that emitted from the depths of her throat.  Not the cute story book, “Meow! but instead, a “Maw!  Maw!  Mawwwwwww!  MAAAAAWWWW!!!!!!!  Over and over and over again!  She would lower her front end, much like a car with hydraulics, raise her back-end, twitch her tail and bawl.    MAAAAWWWWWWW!!!!!!!   Nothing was going to satisfy her except a male which she was so desperately seeking and which we were continually shooing away from our front door.  Suddenly, tom cats came from everywhere.  Cats we had never seen before.  Cats, which would never have come near a house that had six kids of our own and loads of neighborhood kids daily.   Each one made it’s personal appearance, hoping to satisfy Max’s longings. 

     I felt compelled to help Max’s situation and mine out at the same time.  Within days, I fixed everything by having Max fixed which might I be quick to point out, cost me a bundle.  How can a few small cuts, some stitches and so forth cost so much money?  Once Max recovered, the noise quit and so did the visits from the Toms.

     And a litter box and litter, cat toys and cat nip to fill those toys.  All for a free cat!  Another expense came when distemper shots were deemed necessary.  Even after the shots, she still had a temper!

     And then there were the flea treatments.  At first, we allowed her to remain an indoor/outdoor cat.  Whenever she needed to relieve herself, we would let her out and she would use the neighbor’s flowerbed.  For some reason, that neighbor, the one she visited, the only one with a flower bed, hated us!  Whenever Max went out , for whatever reason or excuse she had, she usually came back in with visitors.  I hate fleas!  Max seemed indifferent to them, except for the constant scratching and itching.  To make matters worse, her “guests” would leave her fur to take up residency anywhere on her humans!  I grew to hate fleas even more than I had before.  Nothing says creepy more than finding fleas on one’s body!  This flea scenario happened a few times till we decided to keep Max as an indoor only cat.  Even that didn’t fully solve the flea problem though.  Our kids visited other kids who had cats.  Their cats were outdoor cats and therefore were hosts to fleas.  Some of those fleas ended up on my kids which in turn brought them home to Max and the rest of us.  Time for another flea treatment.

     But lest I digress from my original theme, (you know I already did), I must say, “You are such a Garfield, Max”!  By that I mean that we have a cat much like Garfield who doesn’t act like a cat when it comes to mice.  Garfield will not raise a paw against a mouse.  Neither will Max!  We had a mouse and I’m sure Max was well aware of it.  Did she do anything about it?  Not a thing!  I ended up buying a mouse trap to do her dirty work!

     Has Max always been so anti-cat?  No.  When she was younger, she brought in dead birds and lovingly stashed them under beds and livingroom furniture.  She always sat in the window and twitched her tail like crazy at birds and squirrels across the street.  She wanted them so badly that it almost killed her when she couldn’t go out.  Not so now days.  It’s like she retired from normal household duties and cat-like responsibilities.  She gave up her animal nature in exchange for a bowl of bagged food and another bowl of water. 

     Sometimes, when Max eats, Max pukes!  She doesn’t need the excuse of hacking up a hairball, she just does it because she can.  She will sit in the most unladylike fashion and lick herself in more places than you care to know!  When she licks, she accumulates hair and when too much hair is accumulated to pass through to the kitty box, she regurgitates it up, usually along with some freshly swallowed cat food.  Sadly, both of my girls which are still at home and my wife can not handle handling cat puke.  Their warnings are, “If we clean it up, you end up cleaning up Max’s puke and ours too”!  So yours truly gets the honor of being head puke remover.  What they fail to remember is that I gag and retch and almost vomit myself, yet somehow, I get the nasty job done anyhow. 

      And then there is the matter of the litter box.  The food Max eats and the food she digests and the food she doesn’t puke up, end up in the litter box.  Fortunately, I am not in charge of feeding her or cleaning up her litter box.  The girls are.  What bothers me about Max using the liter box is how she uses it.  She makes it to the box and everything she leaves is in the box.  Most cats dig a hole, do their thing and then cover it up.  Not Max.  She just squats, does her thing then, instead of actually covering up the movement, she paws at the air that reeks heavily of cat feces.  She paws at the wall where the smell seems to be the strongest and when the smell dissipates a little, she is  content to leave the box and her mess behind for someone else to cover up. 

     Max is now over ten years old in human years and has put on a little weight.  I too have put on a little weight over the last ten years although mine has not been due to eating bagged cat food!  Anyhow, Max has gone from lazy to lazier still.  She doesn’t romp through the house like she used to.  Usually, she likes her space and only seeks me out when I am the busiest.  She will come up to me, nudge and rub against my leg.  When I bend over to pet her, she walks a few feet away and waits.  I move up to pet het, maybe pet her once and she slinks away another few feet to where she stops again.  I stoop, I touch, she moves.  When we finally make it to the couch, she jumps up on it and waits on the back of it.  I reach to pet her and she lets me, leaning into my back rubs, ear tickling and chin scratching.  She seems to be enjoying this until out of nowhere, Max growls and takes a swipe at my hand.  The time she has made contact, I have come away with minor skin loss and major irritation.

     “Stupid cat”! I say.  She just looks at me like I had offended her last nerve.  She may have gotten her feelings hurt but I got my hand hurt.  Who got hurt worse?  I play a cat and mouse game with her and she gets mad when I play by her rules.

     My biggest fear is that if this is the first of nine lives, what do I have to look forward to in the next of her eight lives?

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