Updated: 3 days ago
From the age of around four years old I have had a long set of relationships with various cats and as I grew older some special ones with big bush cats that included Lion cubs, Cheetah cubs, RooiKat (red bush cats), servals and Mountain Lions of various sub species.
For some reason cats come to me for help or just want to be friendly with me, my own family calls me Dr Doolittle because lots of animals of different types let me help them or just are not afraid of interaction with me.
This is not to say that I have not been afraid of some of the encounters I have had with some of them which have been rather perplexing in nature.
Cats and me though seem to be on a similar wavelength and I seem to be a cat magnet for some strange reason.
On November 21 my best cat pal ever had to be put to sleep and he had been in trouble for about a year before that for some reason related to his diet.
He was a Siamese Chocolate Pointer with somewhat of an identity crises.
Our youngest son Alex found him while volunteering at a cat rescue in Martinez when he was in high school some 15 years ago.
The cat was not resident in the cat rescue per se, a man who bred these cats came to inquire as to donating him and Alex was who spoke to him and once Alex laid eyes on the little feline, that was that!
Apparently some street moggie had mated with this gentleman's prize female breeder and the resulting litter was not wanted in the bloodline but he actually looked 100% Siamese chocolate pointer.
He came home with Alex one evening and joined the other four gang of cats we already had at that time in our home.
He bonded with my wife Julie when he was a kitty though and she was his surrogate mother from the day he came into our home.
She called him Max after I quipped he was a Maximum Lion in character and started calling him Cattus Maximus, Russel Crow style from that Gladiator movie Russel had made years prior.
Max would nestle in her hair while she worked from home in the crook of her left shoulder and neck until he fell asleep and then she would put him in his cat pen we had built especially for him.
When he was bigger he became our son's home buddy and he even slept like a human on his back with his head on his very own pillow next to Alex's pillow with his body stretched out straight like a human under the quilt and bed sheet in our son's bed.
I am sure that Max thought he was in fact a People for many, many years.
It was fascinating to watch his interaction with Alex.
Max also decided that feeding us was actually his life's vocation and he would go murder all manner of squirrel, ratty rodent and birds to "gift" give us our fair share for his keep.
For such a small cat I was amazed how much he hunted.
I have had Siamese before and this guy was like a lion they way he went about his hunting business.
He was very well fed at home so it was all just pure instinct.
In particular he thought that I was the one he needed to be making these hunting gifts too and I had many gory incidents where he brought me my half under the covers in the very early morning while my wife and I slept happily in deep ignorance of said gifts.
He was fond of dropping said half decapitated victims on my feet at 3 AM.
You can imagine my wife's reaction to that sort of shit!
He also did the rounds on Kuss road in Danville where we lived in the gated community in the John Muir park.
Many of our neighbors thought that he was in fact "their" cat.
We found out years later that he had "adopted" Mrs Boswell and some other neighbors who fed him fish and he in turn fed them copious numbers of Squirrel halves.
We had quite a lot of wild deer, mountain lions and coyotes out there and many hawks and eagles were known to try take a few unsuspecting domestic cats on occasion as well.
I watched his interaction with a mountain lion once and was amazed how fearless he was until it turned and attacked him.
We almost lost him 8 years ago when a Coyote grabbed him by the neck and it got a lot more in response for his trouble that saw Max bound free but he developed an infection and abscess that exploded a few weeks later that required $6000 worth of emergency treatment to sort out and various Hawks and Eagles also had a go at him over the years and also found out the little Siamese cat was in fact a fearless Sabre Tooth Tiger in disguise.
He killed two Hawks who got a lot more than they bargained for, the last one being about a year ago here in Oakley.
About the time that my step son Alex went to college was when Max transitioned into becoming my full time feline buddy and he would curl up and sleep with me every night since 2013.
He was very fond of lying between us in winter time under the covers and we had quite a few nasty scars when he scratched and bit us for moving too much in our sleep.
Poppy, Jules and Max
He had not hunted squirrels or birds for some three years before he passed and focused instead on lizards in our little rockery when the mood took him on the odd occasion.
A year ago I knew his time was almost up as he started having what looked like violent hairball coughing incidents and his body was not dealing with his hard food so I had him on soft food for a long while.
His pancreas was apparently the problem and we had him on special diet medical kibble these past 7 months but he has been eating less and less and complaining loudly and painfully a lot to me of late.
I knew he was in a lot of pain with stomach cramps but it was not constant.
The monthly blood work came back clean though but a week ago he stopped eating and now his blood work was showing acute pancreatitis markers again.
So on 11/21 his journey on this mortal plane came to an end and he is now in another place where cats go in the after life, though I suspect he is in fact in canine heaven and not the feline heaven.
When we got our two border collies in 2008/2009 and we started training them, we were flabbergasted to find that Max had joined the training proceedings.
He came, fetched, extended his paw for a shake, sat, lay, rolled over and did all the same things my wife was teaching the two border collie pups to do.
He could lie, wait and come on command just like the dogs did.
This was because the dry liver treats the doggies got for rewards were his absolute favorite thing and he wanted in on that action!
We had a huge audience at our Kuss road home of junior and high school kids that came to watch the evening dog and Siamese cat training show just to watch the cat copying the woofs.
The one Border Collie Pup we called Roscoe was not getting the lie and sit commands and Max would often go nip his hind quarters so he would get with the liver treat reward action.
Roscoe never forgot the little cat nipping him when he was being dumb and he really hated old Max with a passion as a result of this habit of Max in these training sessions.
When he was a huge adult Roscoe turned the tables and nipped Max when he felt the cat was getting too much attention.
Max had been clearly unimpressed Roscoe was not keeping pace with himself and the other woof Dante in terms of obeying commands and getting the liver treats.
To combat the unwanted behavior from Roscoe, Max who already had allied Poppy made Dante his his chief minder and when Dante Passed he made our Golden Pup Tucker his protector.
The second Golden Retriever pup loved him even more than Tucker did so it was a happy trio the last two years.
This is where I started to realize that cats are actually much smarter than dogs.
Max ordained Tucker as his minder
This was surprising to me but the visual data was the witnessed visual data!
Max was also a very good swimmer and enjoyed ambushing birds on the edge of our Kuss Rd pool and happily flew bird in mouth into the pool after leaping out of the bushes on his unsuspecting prey sans any qualms of getting wet.
The only thing Max was genuinely afraid of was bats.
We had another cat who we called Bruceski who was into the art of capturing bats as they swooped over our pool at sunset.
He never ate them, just caught them and brought them inside to show off to us.
Max tried this a few times and when one almost bit him was seriously scared of the high pitched snarling noise from hell that it made.
Bruceski somehow knew where to grab them but Max never got the Bat capture thang down pat and never tried again (thankfully).
Max also brought me several cat waifs that were injured or damaged to fix and even brought us a stray forest kitten once.
I thought he had caught another squirrel when he dropped the bundle of mewling fur at my feet but it was in fact a kitty that had strayed from it's nearby home.
They became hunting pals in later years when the stray waif grew up into a rather large Norwegian Forest cat of some 38 lbs in stature.
They fell out over a fight over a squirrel Max had whacked shortly before we left Kuss road back in 2016 and Max had no chance fighting this feline monster.
He had a piece of his right ear missing due to a tangle with said forest cat which became his visual silhouette identifier for me.
After that they remained mortal enemies but he never tangled with him again after the piece of his ear went missing in a very loud and bloody barney they had one evening.
When we moved into an apartment in Fremont when our new house was being built Max and our own Norwegian Forest cat rescue we called Buttons came with us.
Sadly Buttons experienced the same liver and kidney failure issue that did Max in while we were in this temporary Fremont apartment and the last month there was just us and Max.
I even walked Max on a leash on the Iron horse trail a few times to demonstrate his dog like command capability but stopped this when arrogant and ignorant cyclist assholes almost killed him.
When we were living on Kuss road we once GPS tracked him and were amazed at his more than 5 mile range that covered houses and the John Muir preserve private land as his personal range.
He would often disappear for 7-10 days at a time and appear somewhat heavier than the last time we saw him on his return as if he had been on vacation somewhere.
Max did a great job of controlling the wild squirrel and rodent population on Kuss road and he and the other 38lb forest cat that was once his best feline bud were very territorial indeed after the fight over the murdered squirrel happened between them.
Kuss road was a huge property though and Max was careful about traversing the other cats territory but they did tangle verbally a few times with a huge cat hissing show but he was not much worse for wear after these encounters.
When he saw Mountain Lions though he scarpered the scene back home and sulked on my lap if I was around to lie on.
Some ducks starting using our pool on the odd occasion and Max immediately set about their removal but this was one fight he was never to win.
The Ducks actually beat him up pretty bad working in tandem and he learnt a painful lesson about duck bills.
The last few years he went from being very playful to just an old guy lazing in the sun and taking life real easy down the final stretch as you can see in the above pose.
I am sure he will be reborn as an energetic puppy or kitten if he ever sorted out his identity crises on what he in fact was.
I think he was pretty convinced he thought he was a hybrid Border Collie that could climb trees.
We had one older female dog whose name was Poppy who did in fact follow Max like a cat and they would disappear into the John Muir Park and hunt together from time to time.
My lap was the place for his sleep
I went looking for them both on my mountain bike one time in 2014 and found them together with a couple of freshly murdered squirrels between them in the middle of nowhere at the mountain border regions of the John Muir preserve.
They both followed me home like dogs after that and Poppy and he would do this a few times a year.
Poppy was a terrible robber woof and when she saw Max getting scraps and bowls of food from these various neighbors she often raided kitchens while the unsuspecting homeowner was preoccupied with fussing over Max.
Poppy once whacked an entire 8lb leg of lamb from my own BBQ when I did not close the BBQ lid and dug up the bones over the next 12 months with some pride and satisfaction on her maw.
Her and Max were big partners in food crimes over the years!
We had a lot of irate neighbors who asked we make sure that Poppy could not escape our gated home area.
We never did find out how she managed to pull this feat off...
Just before we left Kuss Rd the rear fence fell down after a heavy rainstorm and it became obvious to me that it was due to her many tunneling efforts on this particular fence that was the spot she escaped from.
She would often go support Max in his fight with this monster forest cat and Poppy was all in to murder this cat though it did beat her up pretty bad when she actually cornered him once in 2014.
She never stopped going to the aid of old Max though.
I will always remember the adventures of Poppy and Max at Kuss road with huge smiles on my maw.
They were really great pals of mine those two scallywags!
I will miss them both for all eternity..
The withering look Max gave me at feeding time if I went past 5 PM
Max will be our last cat I fear, as the two Goldens are a handfull on their own and getting a new cat is unlikely to work out the way Max did with all our woofs.
It was a very extraordinary pleasure to have known him though........
Deus Cattus Maximus will be my take away to the after life....