Updated: Jan 3
I first realized that cats liked me a lot from the age of four when stray specimen started following me everywhere and I shared my food with them and gave them water and flea powder meant for our own cat's use et al.
This sort of behavior spanned several continents and moggies everywhere I came into contact with, seemed to have an affinity for my company and the waves I deduced that I transmitted to them that we were in fact kindred spirits in different bodies.
As I grew older I had some special experiences with big bush cats that included Lion cubs, Cheetah cubs, RooiKat (red bush cats), Cervals and Mountain Lions of various sub species.
For some reason cats just 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 out 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.
I recall a scraggly male lion barely 18 months old that bounded out to me in the Eastern Transvaal Province of South Africa when I was 19 that proffered a paw with a thorn in it for me to remove as one of the most bizarre memories in my collection of bizarre cat interactions.
Cats and me seem to be on a similar wavelength and I seem to be a cat magnet for some strange reason I have yet to fathom fully.
On November 21st of 2022 my best domestic cat pal ever had to be put to sleep and he had been in trouble for about a year before that for some complex reasons 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 Alex was working at per se, a man who bred these cats came to inquire as to donating him and it was just luck that it happened to be Alex who spoke to him.
Once Alex laid eyes on the little feline the man brought in for him to check out the next day, 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 the little cat actually looked 100% Siamese chocolate pointer sans any chocolate markers.
When we first got him, he was pure white, which is why I think the breeder felt he had to get rid of him.
His chocolate colors starting changing his look to type when he was a year old and he grew more chocolate in color every passing year as he grew older.
He came home with Alex one evening and joined our gang of four other 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 pet friendly abode.
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 while he was so small and seemingly frail.
When he was bigger he became Alex'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 Alex's bed.
I am sure that Max thought he was in fact a People for many, many years.
It was fascinating to watch the little cat's 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 various birds to "gift" give us our fair share for his keep.
For such a small Persian cat I was amazed how much he actually hunted.
I have had Siamese cats 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.
My other Siamese were all haughty indoor cats who acted like they were royalty to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
This guy was not snooty like them but he also did not act like a cat.
I do believe he thought he was a four legged People for the longest time.
His feline DNA kicked in when we started letting him roam the huge yard we had at Kuss Rd and he practiced ambushing birds and lizards for the longest time.
The next thing we know he is dumping half eaten squirrels onto the door mat outside our bathroom door of our house.
The top half of everything he whacked was missing on all the ones he paid his rent with.
These were particularly gory gifts to be getting from the murderous little feline.
In particular he thought that I was the one he needed to be making these hunting gifts too and I had many yukky 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 back then in the gated community in the John Muir park.
Many of our neighbors came to think 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 an old and desperate Coyote grabbed him by the neck and it got a lot more in response for his efforts that saw Max manage to 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 hard way that the little Siamese cat was in fact a fearless Sabre Tooth Tiger in a cunning 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 at the bottom of our rock garden 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 we had him on soft food for a good 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 painful gut cramps but these were not constant in nature and he seemed to get back to normal pretty quick.
His most recent monthly blood work came back clean though but then he stopped eating and now his blood work was showing acute pancreatitis markers again, mere hours after a clean bill of health.
Max coughed up blood all over our bedroom carpet and we took him to our vet immediately.
They told us he would have to go to the vet every two days for a saline drip with extras so we pondered this for a day or two.
Sadly 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 strongly suspect he is in fact in canine heaven and not the feline one.
I have this view as when we got our two border collies back in 2008/2009 and we started training them, we were flabbergasted to find that Max had joined the training proceedings and was following along as if he was a lesser woof in the pack.
Max did not hang with the other cats at all in fact. He hung with Poppy our older robber woof instead.
When we got the first Border Collie we named Dante, he and Max were instant chums and they both chased balls I threw for them but Dante was a thing possessed with a ball and Max would just watch his many ball chasing antics with the same fascination I did after chasing a few himself.
About a year or so later we got the second Border Collie in the hopes that they would wear each other out and this worked well until we started training them both.
When Max realized the woofs were scoring awesome liver treats (after Julie gave him a piece) he lined up with the Border Collies military style when Julie called them to action and he saw the treat pouch she wore for the training occasion.
At first he thought he would score some odd scraps for staying out of the way but he soon realized the frequency would increase to the same pace the woofs scored the treats if he partook in the training, so he just did that!
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 definitely 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 for his ego to deal with.
Max had been clearly unimpressed Roscoe was not keeping pace with himself and Dante in terms of obeying commands and scoring liver treats.
To combat the unwanted behavior from Roscoe, Max who had already allied Poppy to his cause made Dante his assistant chief minder and when Dante eventually Passed on he made our Golden Pup Tucker his chief protector.
We had Roscoe until Tucker was a year old and Tucker always protected Max from being bullied by Roscoe.
Tucker would put his 80lbs body between Max and Roscoe and just stare at Roscoe in total disdain for messing with his bestie feline buddy.
The second Golden Retriever pup we added after Roscoe died loved Max even more than Tucker did so it was a happy trio the last two years of old Max's life.
The uptake on the training thang with the two Border Collies is where I started to realize that some cat breeds are actually way 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 onto 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 himself and when one almost bit him he 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 after that ugly bat snarling incident (thankfully).
Max also brought us 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 that he had picked up mama style and brought home for us to take care of.
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 now massive furry 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 these two felines were mortal enemies but he never physically 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.
Our old woof Poppy did in fact follow Max like a cat after somehow escaping our property and they would often 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 Max stopped off at 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 of escape 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 had in fact been escaping from.
She would often go support Max in his fight with that 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.
They used Max as the bait on that occasion and Poppie charged said forest cat when it had it's back turned to her.
She was very good at hiding in the bushes and laying ambush like a cat was old Poppy.
I watched this scene unfold through the huge window we had facing the yard while I ate my breakfast one morning.
She never stopped going to the aid of old Max though, and this cat would retreat to the many trees when Poppy arrived on the scene to defend old Max.
I will always remember the many 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 handful 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....
I have been blessed by the company of many fine animals in my life and am thankful for it.
It has made my life richer and full of pleasures that a life of interaction with animals brings.