In all fairness, this story should really be about Creampuff, the cat my sister couldn’t bear to part with and who came into our lives with a perfectly sounding “Hello, Matt!” (I swear he said it, and I have witnesses!) It should be, it really should. But you know how a puzzle is still a puzzle until the last piece is placed, finally making it a picture? That final piece is Max, the cat that came to stay.
Again, in all fairness, I should first tell you a bit about Puff. He’s huge, white, and fluffy with a petite little kitten face framed by a splotch of orangey-tan that is reflected on his bottom half, making him look like his namesake – a creampuff. (There was a hilariously awful moment when my son overheard my father say he couldn’t wait for the State Fair so that he could eat a creampuff. Trauma!!) His personality is what we like to call “kitty putty”, as you can do with him whatever you please as long as you are touching him. And paying him attention. And petting him. And touching him. And touching him. And petting him.
He is the sweetest cat ever, but a bit overwhelming for me as I have sensory and nerve pain issues; not only is he a heavy cat and a slow walker, but he is a licker! And my body absolutely cannot STAND it.
I love him, though. I really, really do. And my son adores him.
I had thought for years that maybe C-Puff’s overly needy and irritating behavior was attributed to him being lonely, having come from a home with two other cats. We were holding out for a dog, though, so another cat was out of the question. To be perfectly honest, another cat never really ever even crossed my mind regardless of my son’s many announcements that he would basically like to turn our house into a cat haven and have me be the queen of all crazy cat ladies. Regardless, I just kept hoping another pet would lead P-Diddy to be less… aggravating. And I was certain it would be a dog.
And then there we were, playing in the front yard, when along came Max. He didn’t know he was Max yet, but my son did. My son called to him, he came. The end. They were in love with each other, but that little green flea collar around Max’s neck told me to proceed with caution while Max’s cuteness and instand bond with my son caused my son to proceed to open our front door and let Max right in!
Puffy-C was PISSED! My son began bawling as the cats hissed and growled it out, upset that his idea of Catopia hadn’t worked out as planned. I found myself walking my son through the ins and outs of cat behavior and etiquette all the while wondering what the hell I was doing and why the hell would I want a second cat when I never really even wanted a first cat?? My head exploded on the inside.
But then everything settled down and then everyone settled in. Days passed and Creampuff became less needy – more like a cat and less like an emo boyfriend that you’re stuck living with until the lease is over: “Oh, where were YOU all last night?”
Things started changing, and I liked it.
Still, every day, I would have to repeat my warnings to my son. “Max’s family might be looking for him.” And still, every day, they were inseparable. I even found myself falling for Max, too, which somehow caused me to appreciate and truly bond with The Puff all the more.
We would let Max out during the day so I could watch where he went, half hoping his family would spot him and half hoping there was no family. He finally wiggled his way out in the middle of the night which brought my son to a puddle of tears. “I wost my best friend! And now I hafta tell Creampuff I wost *his* best friend!!!”
With my heart in my throat, I became the crazy cat lady with a flashlight in the middle of the night stalking and crawling about my own yard making kitty-cat calls. No Max. I went in and got ready for bed, not knowing how I would mend my son’s broken heart… but just before I gave up for good I took one last peek outside. There, camped out on our patio, was the elusive and beloved Max! My heart swelled as I opened the door and he came rushing in. “He chose us. We are his family now! ”
Or so I hoped.
Creampuff had changed for the better and our relationship had improved. My son had become the most responsible 4 year old cat owner ever. Max had kept us on our toes and provided much entertainment. And I, a sufferer of chronic pain who guards her energy and output very closely, discovered that giving more actually didn’t hurt or drain me – it gave me more in return. I was astonished.
Well, every good story must end and this story ends with Max’s family finally spotting him in our front yard. Thankfully it happened while we were all outside so that we knew exactly what was his fate, we didn’t have to worry, and we could properly say goodbye.
My son was very brave and began telling the family “Be really really nice to him, ok? And call him Max because he really really likes it,” but as they left with Max in their arms the moment I had been fearing ever since Max arrived played out right in front of my eyes.
I call it The Sadness, much like when people say someone has The Cancer. The Sadness is big and blubbery, with giant spewing tears and gutteral cries that start at your core and refuse to be stifled no matter how hard you purse and tighten your lips. And I had a front row seat with every tear directly connected to my own heart.
Eventually, slowly, we had a good talk. I was genuinely surprised at my son’s kindness and insight, especially when he admitted the best place for Max was with his real family, even though he really wanted us to be his real family, and when he finished my statement about how when you really love something, “You have to let it go, right, Momma?” I nearly passed out from an overflow of proud.
Together we decided that Grandmaster Puff needed a friend and that my son needed a friend, and that friend should probably not already belong to someone else… So, yes, I agreed to a new kitten/cat. The woman who didn’t want one or even two cats is now on the hunt for the perfect second cat for our first perfect cat. Can you believe it?
My son still mentions Max. Everytime he says something about his parting in a positive way (“I’m glad Max is with his family but I miss him,” or “I’m glad we got to meet Max” ) he gets a candy – my little idea to try to damage control. He is always allowed to cry but he hasn’t done much of it since we spend so much time saying how thankful we are for the time we got with him. It works for us and, even though I was initially afraid of the inevitable pain that letting something uncertain into our lives would surely bring, I now find myself thankful for the entire experience because I now know that, yes, we both can handle anything that comes our way.
And we owe it all to Max, the cat that came to stay.
Here’s looking forward to the next uncertain thing that will wiggle itself into our lives!