We’re away for much of August but towards the end of the holiday, we’re contacted by the friend who is looking after the Tribe’s cats. When she went to feed them in the morning she found one of them in the house, lying in a pool of blood. Pretty horrible for her and I’m so grateful to her and her husband for sorting everything out while we were away. The foaming around Max’s mouth together with the fact that he was safe in the house leads us to believe that he was poisoned. Rat poison we guess. I know that Max was only a pet, but he really played a big part in our family life. So this post is dedicated to Max, our much loved short haired moggy.
Max belonged to our son. We bought three kittens for the Tribe as a Christmas present in 2009. The evening we drove to pick them up it started snowing heavily. So much so, that Father of the Tribe put shovels and ropes in the back of the car – a true Kiwi! – and I wrapped the Tribe in blankets as they were bundled into the car in their pyjamas with no idea of where we were taking them. Arriving at the house where the kittens were, the landscape was totally white – the snow was definitely settling. Pretty exciting especially when you’re 4, 6 and 7! As we went through the door the penny dropped and the Tribe were besides themselves with excitement as they realised that they were there to choose their own kitten.
Our Boy was so thrilled at having a little boy kitten all of his own. He picked this little bundle of black with white socks and an upside down white V on his nose, cuddled him and announced to everyone, “This is Max”. No discussion of names, he just knew that’s what the kitten was going to be called. The kittens travelled home in a cardboard box in the back of the car and as we had three, there was never any trauma or upset; they cuddled up together and slept with one of them purring ridiculously loudly. And that was it; our family of 5 had expanded to 8 with our feline additions.
The kittens were always up to mischief – that’s their job, they’re kittens! But Max or ‘Mad Max’ as he became known, caused me a few grey hairs before any of the Tribe did. One day I was hoovering on the balcony, not long after the kittens had joined our family, Max, terrified, backed away, and to my utter horror, backed straight through the spindles of the balcony and into oblivion. I felt as though I was watching in slow motion and was frozen to the spot, “How on earth was I going to explain this to my son??”. When I finally did look over the balcony expecting to see a tiny, lifeless, broken body, there was nothing. Max had disappeared. Running downstairs, I found little Max, completely unperturbed, but more than happy to be picked up and made a fuss of. I guess that was one of his nine lives used up.o
The following Christmas we became 9 with the arrival of the Littlest and all three of the now year old cats, just assumed that she was one of them and spent hours sleeping in the Moses basket with her. That Christmas, Max, together with his two siblings, found it fabulous fun to climb the 12′ Christmas tree in our hallway. Carrying a 3 week old baby, I found a tree surrounded by a pool of water leaning at a precarious 45 degree angle held up only by the cable of the fairy lights that were still merrily flashing. The cats looked at me as if to say, “Nothing to do with me.”. Hmmmm.
On learning that we were to move to the Middle East there was never any question that the cats would come with us. When we picked them up in the scorching summer heat and brought them to our new home in Jumeirah, I realised it had been absolutely the right decision, despite the time, effort and money involved. Knowing no one in the region and without any help, we were very much on our own.
With the cats, we knew that we were all together and everything would be just right. The cats didn’t venture very far, cats don’t; but despite the fact that we lived close to a busy road, they were pretty streetwise. Even with the stray cats that roamed the streets, our cats would ‘protect’ their patch taking their positions on the high wall either side of the gate to the compound. A few times a stray would try and get into our garden, but this is when ‘Mad Max’ would live up to his name and chase the intruder over the whitewashed walls.
When we first returned to Abbotts Ann I found myself alone in the kitchen one night; Father of the Tribe was still living in Qatar and the Tribe all safely asleep upstairs. Suddenly I could hear a tap, tap, tapping. It kept going and I began to feel a little nervous – where the heck was it coming from? And then I saw him. Mac’s face with its upside down white V nose just outside the window and his paw going up and down tapping on the window. Brilliant! And that was how he always let us know that he wanted to come in.
I miss that tapping. I miss the fact that there are only two cats following the Tribe across the fields. The other two cats miss him; Father of the Tribe misses him much more than he ever thought he would; and the Tribe miss him, especially our son. Max, with the softest silky fur, will never again be the heavy weight sleeping at the end of his bed.
We scattered Max’s ashes over the fields where he used to play and chase and under the trees where he used to sleep in the sunshine. He was much loved and he will be much missed.