I didn’t think I had any pictures of him, but there he was in a Christmas photo from almost ten years ago. He was my buddy Max.
When I got married, two cats were part of the bargain. Simone, a blue-point Siamese, was my wife’s, and Sally, a brown tabby, was my stepson’s. Naturally, at least to my wife’s logic, I needed my own cat. Knowing I was a dog person, she decided that another Siamese was the right choice for their high sociability and how tightly they bond with people. “A Siamese is about as close to a dog as a cat gets,” she said. And so we got Max, a chocolate-point Siamese kitten.
Young Max was a pain in the neck. He slept all day, but then ran around the house all night while we tried to sleep. He made a loop from our bedroom, down the hall, through the living room, into the family room, and then back. Tromp, tromp, tromp, tromp, tromp, tromp – quieter, quieter, very quiet, louder, louder, louder, and then the whole bed shook when he landed on it. He spent many nights shut in the laundry room with his litter box so we could sleep.
He was also on a mission to annoy the tar out of poor Simone and Sally. He’d walk up to Sally and just bat her in the face. Sally, who brooked no nonsense, always clobbered Max right back. Simone, on the other hand, was a gentle old lady, and she really took a lot of abuse from Max. But there was one situation where Simone always drew the line. She liked to sleep on my butt. I’m a stomach sleeper, you see. Max, covetous of this prized perch, would try to bodily shove her off, and Simone would hiss and growl and bat at him with her clawless paws. What a way to be awakened in the middle of the night! That, too, would earn Max a night in the laundry room.
Kittenhood’s exuberance eventually waned, and Max grew fat. He also developed a perpetual sinus condition. It was worst in the wintertime, and he’d spend hours hanging off a table in the family room, enjoying the heat radiating from the baseboard heater below. His meow always came out as mehfffff, the last of it through his stuffy nose.
Adult Max was quite dear. He’d come running to greet me when I came home from work at night. He loved to crawl up into my lap when I worked at my computer, and when I sat in the La-Z-Boy to watch TV he’d recline right next to me with his belly exposed and his hind legs splayed. He looked ridiculous when he did that! But he would sit there with me for hours, purring.
And then the company I worked for couldn’t afford to pay me anymore. I spent four months looking for work. They say job hunting should be a full-time job, but despite diligently working my network and applying for every job in my field for which I was even remotely qualified, I still had a lot of time on my hands. So I was home a lot. Max was thrilled to have me there, always underfoot, mehffing and purring and rubbing against me seeking my attention. I spent my free time reading Carl Sandburg’s biographies of Abraham Lincoln, and Max spent every moment of it either in my lap or reclined next to me. He really lifted my spirits at a time when I felt pretty down.
When my wife and I separated, I had to leave Max behind. He died before I could take him back. I still miss my little buddy.
And then I got the dogs in the divorce. Sugar passed away in 2008; I still have Gracie.