Maxx came to my family as a kitten, who we got from a family friend during the early summer of 1997, he was just 8 weeks old. I was 14 when he joined my family, my brother 7, and my sister 11. I’m sure you can imagine the memories we made with him throughout those childhood years.
He was always the most gentle cat, amazing around children and brought up around dogs. After a time with our dogs, Maxx began to assume a dogs personality. He thrived on human attention & affection, if their was a lap or a chest available, he was on it. He would sleep nestled into the curves of the many dogs he outlived over the years.
I remember the innocent torture of dressing him in baby clothes and tossing him up in sheets like he was on a trampoline. He would just sit there with an annoyed looked on his face, but never once did he become defensive or vicious. He was our most patient playmate. He might begin to toy with his claws or teeth, but would always stop before he would puncture the skin… It was enough for us to get the message…”leave me alone!” Although this was very rare.
He would wait at the kitchen table every single morning he was home, as we ate our breakfast cereal. Maxx loved getting the leftover milk at the end of the bowl. He would literally sit on the table, stare you down until he had that last little bit of milk. He would never let you forget.
He was, from the start an outdoor cat, I remember him being very independent, rarely even needing a cat box. He would be out hunting for days at a time…but we always knew when he wanted to come in. We’d see him clinging to the outside window screen of our living or dining room, hoping someone would notice him and let him inside. Often times we’d have to go get a laundry basket, go outside and collect him off the screen, which was really high. I can’t for the life of me figure out how he would jump that high. My parents used to get so frustrated because of the damage he caused to the window screens. He’d come in, eat and rest up for his next outdoor adventure.
When I was in high school and finally had my own room, I remember sleeping with him. I had a night stand directly behind my bed, which usually had a glass of water I’d taken to bed with me. Well, every morning like clockwork…literally to the day he died, he was up and meowing at 4 am wanting to be fed. He was a persistent little guy…if I didn’t get up he would walk on my head or paw at my face. If that didn’t work he would jump onto my bedside table, and in his mischievous way, use his paw to tip the glass of water over. Which in those days, being above my bed, would spill into my face. Hahaha, I’m sure he was laughing at me every time. You can imagine my displeasure at being woken in such a way.
Another way he let us know he wanted to be fed or needed attention was he’d find any piece of paper and begin shredding it with his teeth into tiny bits…and of course he always knew which papers were the most important (essays, homework, bills, Charlie’s artwork, etc.) after a time it became a habit to “Maxx proof” our house.
Maxx always liked to be the center of attention in whatever you were doing. When I was in high school and college, writing papers or studying from my notebooks, he always felt the best way to help was to plop down on the book or note book I was working from, sometimes the laptop keyboard, and when that didn’t work he would start pawing at my pen or pencil in a playful manner. He loved to help…
He lived with my family and I in two homes in rural upstate NY, and then in 2003 he moved in with me full time during my last 2 years of undergraduate school. Then in June 2005 he made the big trek to Maine, where we initially lived with Chris’s parents and their one and a half year old Golden Retriever, Pip.
I remember the first time Pip and Maxx met, Pip was only eight months old. From the start Maxx held his ground and let Pip know he wasn’t to be messed with and he was in charge. Pip left that day with a bloody scratch on her nose to prove it. Although from that day forward they became close pals. Eventually, once they became roommates, so to speak, they too were basking and cuddling in the warm sun that shown through the dining room glass doors or on Pips’ dog bed in front of the woodstove. Pip would try to play with Maxx, but he would, in his most distinguished and dignified manner just look at Pip with dissatisfaction as if to say “I’m too old to play your foolish games.”
Maxx loved yogurt & ice cream!! Just as much as cereal milk, but in an even more obnoxious way. He would literally climb up and fight to get his head in that yogurt container or bowl of ice cream! In the end, he usually ended up with at least a spoonful, because of his relentless pursuit.
I must say this bad habit was definitely my fault. As a kitten, he and I would always share ice cream. I have vivid memories of Jeff, Chris’s dad, sitting in the recliner of their living room, fighting with Maxx over who got the rest of the yogurt.
As I’ve already mentioned, Maxx was a hunter. When we lived with Chris’s parents, he developed a nasty habit of leaving the heads of dead chipmunks on either their front door mat or on the back deck. He had so obviously (it was covered with dried blood) deemed the left hand corner of the back deck as what became known as his “murdering corner“. Chris’s Mom, who was an animal lover hated it, so she came up with an excellent solution. She found a pretty sizable Christmas bell and attached it to his collar, that way when he would walk it would jingle and scare all the prey away. I remember letting him out one day as he wore it and he would take a step, hear the ringing and stop. Take another step and stop…after about 5 minutes of this he just laid down and I could just tell from the expression on his face, he felt emasculated, totally defeated! Poor guy!!
It wasn’t long after that (August 2006) , that Chris and I moved to New York City, so I could attend graduate school. From here on, he became a permanently indoor cat. The transition was difficult for him at first. We lived in a 4th floor walk up on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. Whenever we opened the door, he wanted to jet out, and was successful a few times. We weren’t even supposed to have a cat! He would sit by the door meowing for what seemed like hours. I feared we’d be turned in by a neighbor, luckily that never happened. In our first month or so, Chris and I found the nearby pet store. I had fun picking out a little hoodie sweater and a harness leash for Maxx. I had decided that he should be acquainted with his new outdoor surroundings. Shortly after, I robbed him of his pride, by dressing him up in his little hoodie and placing him on a leash, and walked him outside around the block. He needed to understand why he couldn’t go outside anymore. I was tired of his endless whining by the door. Needless to say, after two walks, he was terrified of the city and realized he was better off indoors. I think it was the last trip to Starbucks that finally did the trick. On the way back, about a half block from our apartment, he just plopped down and refused to move…angrily looking at me with the slanted eyes (those were his “Mom, I hate you” eyes0. From then on in our Manhattan apartment, we could leave that apartment door open for hours and he never tried to get out again. Pure genius on my part, my plan worked…UNTIL Brooklyn.
We moved to Brooklyn in 2007 and this was our home until late 2010. We loved this home because it offered us a private outdoor rooftop. I would frequently allow Maxx to come up with me and bask in the sun as I did my school work. Unfortunately, I’d take my eyes off him for a 5 minutes and he’d be gone! I’d frantically search, usually finding him 3-4 rooftops over. hris or I would have to literally rooftop hop in order to retrieve him.
Maxx was my healthy, happy, playful, low maintenance cat until early 2010, when I noticed some strange symptoms. I decided to take him to the vet. After running some labs and other tests it was determined that he was in the early stages of kidney failure. I remember thinking “are you kidding me!! Both of my loves have Kidney disease…what are the odds?!?” (Chris had a Kidney transplant in December 2005). The vet was optimistic and said with a simple change in diet he could still have a healthy lifestyle. They sent us home with about $200 worth of a new feline kidney friendly diet. Well, Maxx being the stubborn cat he was, decided he would rather not eat than eat that disgusting stuff. Within two weeks he had lost 6 pounds, now weighting only 5 lbs. and had complicated his bowels among other things, needing an overnight stint in the animal hospital. He made it home but the vet told me not to get my hopes up, as the damage to his kidneys had significantly worsened. I cried and cried, not leaving his side for days. I cleaned him with a warm wet cloth, as he had stopped grooming himself (he normally took so much pride in his cleanliness and was meticulous in doing so). After several calls to the vet crying asking what could be done, she suggested IV fluids to Flush the toxins from his system that his kidneys weren’t flushing out naturally, but again told me not to get my hopes up, he would probably be gone in 4-5 days. I was not going to accept that! Neither Maxx nor I were ready to give up…So, Chris and I began administering IV fluids twice a day for about a month. This was quite an experience, in itself. I also decided, screw the stupid kidney diet! I’d rather have him eat anything rather than nothing! I started force feeding him puréed baby food through a baby medicine dropper. It got him going. Eventually, he began eating again on his own, now only wet food, as his teeth were too weak to continue with his favorite Meow Mix dry food. After about 6 weeks, he had steadily gained weight and his strength back…it was a miracle!
In October 2010, we moved back to Maine. Shorty after we arrived, we received a condolence card from our Brooklyn Vet saying “we are so sorry for the loss of your cat Maxx.” I toyed with the idea of sending them a picture of him with the current days NY Times to show he was very much alive and well. In the end I decided not to jinx it. I had my baby back and that’s all that mattered. At this point he was thirteen and a half years old.
Shortly after we moved to Maine, Chris and I found out we were pregnant with Charlie. I was initially concerned how Maxx would be, as you hear horror stories of cats and babies. From the time we began setting up Charlie’s nursery, of course Maxx had to be in the middle of it. New crib…he was in it, baby tub, yup new sleeping destination. As much as I tried to keep him out, he always found a way in. Even when my belly was at its biggest he still insisted on laying on it, Charlie’s kicks would sometime cause him to flinch, but then he’d settle right back down.
When Charlie finally arrived, Maxx just saw another warm body to snuggle with. He would sleep in the crib, but at a safe distance. During tummy time, Maxx was right there on the floor with him. Charlie and Maxx were bonded from the start. I’m so happy they had five and a half years together and that Maxx has been loved by four generations of our family.
In 2011, Maxx had his first seizure. I thought he was chasing his tail until he fell from the desk and began seizing on the floor. I was so scared, we took him immediately to the Animal ER. $700 later they had no explanation of why he had the seizure. So, since 2011 he would periodically have seizures, usually set off by a tapping sound on a plate or metal dish. We then found out that he was going deaf, and the vibrations of the tapping is what set of his seizures. So we tried to avoid making those sounds around him.
Maxx definitely lived up to the reputation of cats having nine lives. He defied the odds time and time again. In the fall of 2013 he got out of our house in Portland,Maine. After being an indoor cat the past seven years and being deaf, I was, of course fearful for his safety. It was a cold dreary time of year. After days of calling for him, (on deaf ears I remind you) and canvassing the neighborhood showing his photo to see if anyone had seen him, I had almost given up hope. I decided one evening to try calling him one last time, (after no luck for five days) I closed the door, went to my living room to bawl my eyes out, when I’m not sure why, but I went back to the door and opened it…there was Maxx dirty and mangy from his five day outdoor adventure. You can imagine my relief and joy. I picked him up hugged him tight and just bawled, thanking the dear Lord for returning him safely to me, yet again.
In September 2015, our family embarked on a big life adventure and I’m so happy that Maxx will forever be a part of that journey. We spent 28 days traveling across the United States making our way to our new home in Northern California. Chris and Charlie rode in the truck that hauled our new home, (a 33 foot long travel trailer) and Maxx was my travel companion in the car. Maxx always hated pet carriers, so I made accommodations for him, so he could roam free and conduct business as usual. Of course, he always chose the most inopportune times to go #2. Seriously, I felt like he only need to go when we least wanted him too, for example when Chris, Charlie and I we crammed into the front seat of our car (stuck on the side of the road in West Virginia, waiting for the RV repair man to return with the parts needed to fix our tire, that had literally caught on fire!) That was a long day. Or when we were literally just moving the RV two miles down the road in Tennessee, I had left his cat box inside, as we were only going to be five minutes Yup…you guessed it, he had to go. Thank God I had plastic on the seat and floor. We have so many stories just from this trip alone, but despite the annoyance and frustration I felt at times with him, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m happy to have these fond memories that now bring only laughter and smiles.
In the last few months of his life, he’d been up and down with his health. Losing weight and not eating, to eating and gaining weight again. I had begun a habit of staring at his belly when he slept, as I feared he might have gone, but then I’d see his chest rise and fall and a sigh of relief would come.
In his last days he was not eating, no matter what we tried. I even tried baby food again, no luck. He was literally fur and bones…he had totally stopped grooming and was having difficulty with making it up to our bed or even the small height of the chair he loved to lay on. I had begun a conversation with Charlie about how we would have some tough decisions to make as a family in regards to Maxx’s care. I always knew Maxx would let me know when it was time, and he did. One Thursday December 8, 2016, he could not settle, as he hadn’t eaten in days and was weak. He simply followed me around sounding a weak begging meow, as if to say “Mom, please… It’s time!” I knew in those moments he was tired and suffering, so I made the dreaded call to the vet and scheduled an appointment for later that day. We spent our last moments cuddling together in bed, me nuzzling his neck and cheeks. He had the most amazing smell on the back of his neck, it resembled the smell of a faint perfume. When it was time to leave for the appointment, I wrapped his tiny 4 lb. frame in a blanket, buckled he and I into the seat belt and drove to the vets office. He didn’t fight or even try to move he simply sat peacefully in the blanket on my chest the entire drive. Once we arrived I held him in the blanket and continued to nuzzle his head, cheeks, and neck, as a mother cat would her young. Maxx always liked it when I did that. I was with him until his final breath and sobbed over his still lifeless body until I could barely breath.
At the time of his death he was almost 20 years old. While I knew for quite some time that he would leave us at some point, he just kept defying the odds time and time again. I am so grateful for the almost two decades of memories I had with him.
Many have said I did the most humane thing by ending his suffering, and I know from the peaceful, resolved manner in which he accepted his impending death that they were right. However that didn’t change the fact that it was the most difficult decision I had ever made in my life. I am grateful to know that he is no longer suffering and is at peace enjoying the serenity of a peaceful paradise, where I envision him chasing the chipmunks free from the sound of the loud christmas bell..
The hardest part for us in these past 3 years is being home without him. Despite his tiny size, he had such a huge presence in our home and will forever be in our hearts. His life brought so much joy to our family and he will continue to live on through us, our mission at THE MAXX CO. and the stories we will tell for the rest of ours.
Maxx lived his life unapologetically. He was persistent and daring in his endeavours. He was always up for a new adventure and brought joy to everyone he met. We at THE MAXX CO. believe that his life is a perfect example to all of us and we have chosen to honor his name and his spirit in our mission to deliver the tools to design and live a life you absolutely love.
Fun facts about Maxx:
He lived in Brushton, North Bangor, Parishville, Potsdam, Manhattan, & Brooklyn, NY. East Waterboro, Poland & Portland, ME. Loomis & Auburn, CA.
He visited cities and towns in the following states NY, ME, VT, NH, MA, NJ, PA, MD, WV, VA,TN, AR, TX, AZ, NM, and CA. Hence his nickname, “Maxx the traveling Cat”.