Tuesday, September 9, 2008

RIP Max 1993-2008

maxMany of you already know this, but yesterday my cat Max went to the great catnip field in the sky. The thing about Max is that he wasn't a big fluffy cat like Mini or a cute little tuxedo cat like Deuce—he was a big black cat who never photographed well. But he was a wonderful boy. A big baby, actually, who never outgrew some of his kitten traits such as sucking on my shirt collar when he was tired or scared.

Max was born on the side of a road in Durham, NC on April 24, 1993. I know this because the side of the road happened to be pretty damn near a veterinary clinic and Max (and his litter of brothers and sisters) was taken in immediately by the people at the clinic. Through chance—since I didn't have any animals of my own at the time—I was in that vet's waiting room when Max was approximately six weeks old and he was the first kitten who jumped up against the side of the cage and wanted to be held. I found myself back there a few weeks later and he was the only one of his litter that hadn't been adopted out. I took him home the next day. Toby, my orange cat who died in Feb of '05, joined us a few weeks later. They were best pals.

In his life, Max had been stepped on by a ballerina, drooled on by an unruly Chow, flown on an airplane from North Carolina to California, and logged approx 8,000 miles in the car as we moved together from California to Virginia to DC to California to Washington over the years. He was a hugger. He never complained. Well, sometimes he did but only for a few minutes just to register his disdain and then deal with it. I learned a lot from my cat.

In April or so of this year, I noticed a weird lump between his shoulder blades and took him in to the vet. Now, we have spectacular vets here, between the vets in private practice who are typically trained by the WSU vet school and then the WSU vet school itself. So I wasn't worried about getting quality care. Turns out that Max managed to get what's known as an injection site sarcoma, which is a particularly nasty and aggressive sort of thing. The weird part is that Max hadn't had an injection in that site for several years, so the stupid cells were just hanging around building strength all that time. There wouldn't have been anything to do about it though, because putting a geriatric cat through radiation and chemo for something with a very very very small chance of remission is just not cool. So we went on maintenance for the last several months. As long as he was acting normally—with the exception of a gnarly growing lump between his shoulder blades that we drained once a week—then so be it.

But the last week he was noticeably less-than-thrilled about his lump. He was alert and loving and all those things, but couldn't really get comfortable any more. So that's when it became time to relieve him of all this. It was sad, but the vet people are great and soon Max's little box will join Toby's on the shelf.

It's just me and the girls now—Deuce and Mini. They're asleep. I'm tired. It's business as usual. And I miss my boy.