10 November 2014

A Life Lived...

A Life Lived Long if not Lived Well....

Last week our orange tabby Manx cat had to be put to sleep.

He was 20 years, 4 months, 3 weeks and 1 day old.

That's old for a cat. VERY old for a Manx cat.  It's also more than a third of my life, all but two years of the Big Guy's life and neither one of the girls have ever known a life without Max.

Maxy Cat No Tail- 
one of Belle's friend's nicknamed him.

Max came into our life after the last of the four cats the Hubs and I owned when we got married died. (I had two cats, he had two cats, we got married and had four cats. Often it looked like a cat bomb had gone off when you walked into our house...cats everywhere.)

I had always wanted a Manx, ever since I was 8 years old and read a story about them in a magazine. In my 20s I had friends that had two Manx cats. That sealed the deal. Great personalities, beautiful cats.

So Max came to live with us. The Big Guy was 2 ½ yrs old.

 A very patient kitten.

The two of them grew up together.
Max was a hunter. There was not a chameleon safe in our yard. One morning he brought a baby bunny into the house. A live baby bunny. The Big Guy and I chased around after Max and the bunny until Max dropped him. Bunny was safely returned to the outdoors. Two days later I opened the back door to find the bunny deceased. Max was tireless in his efforts to protect us from small moving animals.

Toddler and teenager.

Then Belle and Bunny came along and we moved to a new house, but Max was always there.

When Bunny was 4 (and Belle was 6 and the Big Guy was 10) we got a dog.  A wonderful fabulous intelligent Golden Retriever  named Jake.  While Jake was being house trained he stayed in a puppy pen. Once Jake graduated to "official house dog", Max decided he was just too old at 7 to play with a puppy all day, so he moved upstairs. Jake was not allowed upstairs.

Jake, the anti-cat.

Jake loved Max but the feeling was NOT mutual. 
So Max stayed upstairs. For six years. In that time, we replaced all the flooring downstairs. Max wouldn't come downstairs even to see the new floors. 
In 2008, Belle brought home another kitten. It was a stray, it was her birthday, sometimes these things happen. 

Mina, a very lucky rescue.

Mina was NOT afraid of Jake, even though he was much larger. She was not afraid of Max. She went upstairs and downstairs and outside and never thought that maybe she was supposed to be afraid of other animals.
And Mina taught Max a lesson. Mina wasn't afraid of Jake, so maybe Max shouldn't be either.
The sight of Max standing on the tile floor that had been installed five years earlier is etched in my brain. One evening Max just decided to come on downstairs. And after that, he went up and down and in and out just like any other cat. He was 13 years old.  Guess you can teach an old cat new tricks.

There was a truce amongst the animals. Max and Jake didn't love each other, but they also didn't fight. Mina on the other hand LOVED Jake and thought she was a dog, but that's another story.

But Jake got cancer. He had surgery, he had his leg amputated, and he had 11 more months with us, before he died too young.  Mina was devastated. Max was probably pretty happy.

Another cat came around. Marley. Again, no one got too friendly but also not too much fighting.
Three cats, no dog.

 A somewhat peaceable kingdom.
Marley, Max, Mina.

Then, Carlos appeared. Unbidden. Unwanted. Unexpected.

I did NOT want this dog. 
But how could you send this little face away? 

Max at this point was almost 18 years old. He just wasn't having it.
He started eating all of his meals on the dining room table. 
Max was 18, we didn't think this would be an issue. How much longer could he live? 

Eventually Max started sleeping on the dining room table, too.
Yes, this made holiday meals a little complicated.  I just moved the entire dining room table into the office and put another table in the dining room. Easier than upsetting the elderly cat. 

Max started getting a little wobbly. We went ahead and put his kitty box on the table, also. 
We kept saying this was temporary. How much longer could he live? 
Apparently, he could live a while.
For over two years Max lived his entire life on our 40" x 90" dining room table.

The centerpiece cat.
He was the first thing you would see when you walked into our house.

A few weeks ago the Hubs called and said Max was having trouble walking. I warned the girls that possibly his end was near. The next morning Max was up and walking as if nothing had happened. 

Then last week, Max was on the floor by the back door when the Hubs woke up. He couldn't walk.  It was time.

The Big Guy and the Hubs took Maxy Cat for his last ride. 
Max's ashes will be coming up to Colorado for Thanksgiving so that we can all say goodbye to him together. 

A long lived life. A constant in our lives. 
Bye Max. 
We will miss you.


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