It might be difficult to tell which black cat this is, but you probably wouldn’t guess. It’s Mr. Max, lying on the afghan on my bed, exploring the upstairs. We’re working on integrating him into the household, giving this a try, in preparation for him actually becoming a permanent member of our feline household.
Their history here
He’s one of the fosters left behind when our neighbor died who has been in my studio for the past two years. Both he and Morty have been looking for a forever home from the beginning. It was complicated at first that their status as rescues was a little muddled because their person’s family didn’t formally surrender them to me, so I was cautious in sharing them. I even gave each of them pseudonyms, Midnight Louie and Simba, in the feline witness purrtection program!
Then Morty developed his urinary issue and I would be extra careful that anyone who would adopt him would be able to cover the expense and give the care he needed ongoing, even though he’s the world’s most social cat and is highly adoptable otherwise. He’s done well on the prescription diet. I hope to get him a complete workup at some point so that we’d know more about his condition.
Mr. Max was up for adoption too, and he’s no less adoptable! He’s actually really affectionate, really silly, and really polite. No one has been interested in him, and he can be a little timid in new places and with a lot of activity so I really wasn’t sure how well he’d do in a multi-cat setting where he’d be able to meet the public.
I have wanted both of them to be part of our family. Morty did really well integrating in his first year here, moving all around the house and joining the others in activities, like hanging out with me in whatever I was doing. But then he seemed to be overwhelmed with passing time. Each time I’ve given it a try he had less and less happy time with the rest of the household.
Each time he was out and about, I’d leave the door open to the studio and Mr. Max wouldn’t step a toe over the doorway but he didn’t mind the company of other cats coming in.
Coincidence? or “someone’s” plan?
One night this past December, getting ready for my bath before bed, I heard him meowing at the studio door. I’d just been in there to spend some time with them and feed them their midnight snack and they’ll usually meow when they’re hungry or if I haven’t been in there for a while. I opened the door and checked with him and I could see he was interested in coming out of the room which he’d never had before. So I opened the door and stepped aside.
Out he came, onto the landing. I didn’t want an issue with Morty that late at night, so I closed the door behind Mr. Max and got in the tub. I thought I’d let him have his own time without me hovering, and very few cats were upstairs yet.
I was aware that it was three days after Giuseppe had died. Through that year and possibly part of that previous year Giuseppe had developed an occasional habit of meowing kind of absently, usually when he was off away from me or others, like on the landing upstairs or in the basement. Mr. Max’s meowing made me think of that, and I knew the urgency of it wasn’t something I’d ever associated with him. I thought of Giuseppe as soon as I’d heard Max meowing, and when Max walked into the bathroom I knew Giuseppe had some part in this sudden need for Mr. Max to be out of the room exploring and spending a good bit of time in the bathroom with me and getting to know the room, checking each of the spots Giuseppe had enjoyed.
Short outings at the best times of day
That night Mr. Max covered the bathroom and my bedroom, settling on the bed for a while. Then I was ready to go to bed and so was he, but back in his bedroom. So I opened the door and he walked in, and that was that.
Since then he’s meowed at the door and I’ve let him out for 15 minutes to a half hour. Usually it’s around my bath time at night, or in the mid to late afternoon when my feline household has always been quiet for a couple of hours. One or two may be up and about in the basement, looking out of windows, but most are in their deepest and longest daytime sleep. He can walk quietly around the house and even encounter one or the other, but there is no conflict.
He’s been able to get to know the house pretty well in that way. And he gets to spend some time with me outside of the studio, not every day, but two or three times a week. We are taking it slowly.
Morty doesn’t mind this. I had started opening the door of the room a couple of months after they arrived and he came out but Mr. Max stayed in. I had hoped to integrate them both together since they were roommates already, but letting Morty integrate first since he was the most social would work too. When it didn’t things were complicated because I didn’t want to close Mr. Max out of his room if he came out; the few times I tried he wasn’t comfortable with that. But now he completely is. So maybe we’ll get Mr. Max socialized, then we can try Morty again. Or maybe Morty will find his forever home where he doesn’t have to live with so many cats, which seems to be what causes so much stress for him.
In the meantime I’m enjoying Mr. Max being around now and then. He’s not a substitute, of course, but the house seemed empty with the loss of three so fast. He’s such a nice kitty.
I also think I really liked the name “Midnight Louie,” and doesn’t object when I call him by that name, so we may be easing his name over.
More veterinary costs…
Morty has seen a veterinarian several times since he’s been here, but I do need to update his vaccines at this point. He was born in 2016 and though Bob adopted him as a kitten from someone’s unexpected litter, he couldn’t afford to neuter him until Morty was two years old, and he had ongoing veterinary care at Banfield until Bob died.
However, I don’t have any veterinary records for Mr. Max since March 2014 when he was neutered and had his vaccines at six months old. That means he turned 10 years old last October, and he at least needs an exam and definitely needs an update on his vaccines. I feel he’s safe to mingle with my household, though, but I do want to get that taken care of sooner rather than later. No more veterinary scofflaws here!
Please let me know if you’d like to help with veterinary costs.
Read other stories in my Rescue Stories series.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Feline Gifts from Portraits of Animals!
I find my feline inspirations in my rescues. Here’s a trio of books of my artwork and also with some stories. Read more.
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