Date of birth: 2004(ish).
(Written in April 2012)
Maxi is – and this is purely guesstimating on the part of the vet – about 8 years old. Maybe a little older, maybe a little younger.
We bought this house in September of 2006, and in the weeks before we signed the papers, the owners (who weren’t living here, so the house was empty) were kind enough to let us spend as much time walking around the property as we wanted. During one of those visits to the house, a small black cat showed up in the back yard. She was a little skittish around Fred, but she came right over to me and let me pet her. We could see that she was clearly a nursing mother, and Fred talked to the man who lived next door at the time, who said that he thought she belonged to the neighbor on his other side. As the weeks went by, she showed up more and more often, and finally Fred went over to talk to the neighbor we thought she belonged to, only to find out that she didn’t belong to them either.
Later, we found out that she actually belonged to the people who sold us this house. They told us they “couldn’t catch her.” I am totally not rolling my eyes and sighing right now. No really, I’m not!
We wondered where her babies were, and looked in all the places we thought they might be, with no luck. A few weeks later, a buff tabby started showing up with her, and we called him “Daddy Kitty”, because we thought he might be the father to her kittens, wherever they might be. He was a lot more nervous around us than she was, but he eventually let us pet him.
Then one Saturday we were working on the house and Fred came into the room where I was painting and told me to follow him. I followed him onto the front porch and found that she’d shown up with the whole family.
We got the okay from the shelter manager to bring the kittens in and have them spayed and neutered (three boys, one girl), and to make them Challenger’s House cats. A lady who lived down the road wanted to adopt Maxi and Newt, so they were never in “the system”. We did take them in to be spayed and neutered for her, and Maxi and Newt went to live down the road for… oh, I think it might have been an entire day before they showed back up here.
(Maxi’s kittens were spayed and neutered and adopted out pretty quickly.)
It was clear that no matter what we’d planned, Maxi and Newt were pretty sure they belonged here. I did say for a few months that “They’re not OUR cats!”, but obviously they were. Maxi used to come inside, but at some point she decided that there are just TOO MANY cats in this house, so NO THANK YOU.
(It doesn’t help that Jake is absolutely obsessed with her and bothers her by sitting and staring at her whenever she’s in the house. She gets fed up with him and wants back outside pretty quickly.)
Maxi is a funny, feisty girl who has little patience for any cats other than Newt (and sometimes she has no patience for him either). She doesn’t mind showing other cats who (she thinks) the boss is if they get up in her space. She loves to be held and petted, and if you pet her for longer than a minute, she drools all over you. For the past few months, she’s been wanting to hang out in the garage, so we let her. I think she spends her days laying in the sun and sleeping, and her nights hunting mice and moles outside. She’s got a really distinctive, husky voice and she’s pretty talkative – you can usually hear her before you see her. If you mess with her, she’ll give you the flat, dead Tony Soprano eyes. She will occasionally walk around with cobwebs hanging off her whiskers – which means, I guess, that she’s an explorer.
A note on the name: We originally called Maxi “Mama”, but I needed to have a name to give the vet’s office, and “Mama” is just so unimaginative. So I looked at her and thought “She’s so tiny, I should call her Minnie.” (which is ironic because she’s on the stout side these days) and then the name “Maxi” popped into my head, and I liked it.
We still tend to call her “Mama.”
You can see lots more pictures of Maxi over at Flickr.
Edited to add Maxi’s theme song: