I may chat about my books, what I'm writing or reading, or just general thoughts. You may read posts about my cats or just my crazy life in general. Comments are welcome, if anyone wants to interact with me. Maybe we can share war stories, whether it's writing related or just about life in general.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Max – the Well-Travelled Cat


This cat is the only one of my cats to live in four different states during his lifetime of twelve and a half years.  He is not across the top of my blog because I had to scrounge around for a picture I could scan in to the computer.  Even then, I have so many old pictures to go through, so for now I got this one off the net, which is a very close resemblance.  His lifetime was back in the 70’s before digital cameras.  How did we get along without those?  There are also three other cats that aren’t across the top of my blog for the same reason, but we’ll get to that another time.  This is Max’s story.

One of my sisters gave me Max years ago when I lived in the country.  I was married to my first husband then, it was so long ago and so far removed from my life today that it seems like a different lifetime.  Anyway, she knew I loved cats.  We grew up with them.  She thought I needed company because I didn’t work at that time, unless you consider sewing and crafting working.  I would leave handmade jewelry, clothing, etc. on consignment in a specific little shop in town.  Max was great company and just the beginning of my adult life with cats.

He became my constant companion, following me everywhere and doing all the cute things that a cat will do.  I hid this little yellow fur ball from my husband at first, not sure what he would say, but as you know a cat will not be quiet, especially a kitten who is always into mischief.  Everything turned out okay and we ended up getting a tiny dog too.  Corky and Max would play together, so we made up stories about dressing them up as cowboys and Indians.  Max would always jump upon the couch and attack the dog by landing on his back and then the wrestling match was on entertaining us for hours.

When we ended up moving to Alaska a few years later, Max was about the only thing I could take along, except my clothes and a small box of dishes.  It was only supposed to be a summer-long vacation, but it turned into five long years with many changes in store.  Max was the only stable thing in my life I could count on as I soon found out.  We both endured a lot in those days.

To make a long story short, my husband went off to live in the woods alone, so Max and I found ourselves together, not that we couldn’t have gone along, but who wants to hike into a remote area, once a weekly train drops you off at a crossing.  I had no desire to become a pioneer woman, fetching water from the creek, cooking outside over a hand-built fire, using lanterns for light, etc.  Max and I declined and eventually found our way to a new place where I moved in with two girlfriends.  Life was crazy for a while.

Later I moved again and my grandmother decided to visit me, from California, at one point.  She was a traveling woman and wanted to see Nome and Kotzebue and cross the Arctic Circle.  Of course it was great to see her, but it wasn’t long that Max got out of the house.  We lived in a rather remote location although there were other houses around and we were on the main highway that ran from Anchorage along the Kenai Peninsula.
Kotzebue, Alaska 
Courtesy of beverleepettit.org

Map of Alaska showing Kotzebue

We went out and searched for that cat.  It was fall and not that warm.  Does it ever really get warm in Alaska?  We had coats to keep the chill at bay as we called and called for that cat, finally going house to house in our search, my grandmother apologizing profusely for letting him get by her feet when she opened the door.  We had about given up and thought he’d be spending a cold night outside.  A little while later, here comes Max strolling from the bushes.  I figure he was sitting in there snickering at us humans as we frantically searched for him.  You know how cats are.

I eventually couldn’t take anymore of those Alaska winters, even though I had a nice job working in a crazy place owned by three guys who were old friends.  I loved my job in spite of the fact I had to take two different buses to get there from my house, but I liked the warm weather more.

In the meantime, I had met the guy who would eventually become my second husband.  We packed up all personal items and household stuff and sold everything else.  Eventually moving day arrived.  Our destination was Oregon where his family lived.

A friend encouraged me to seek out advice from the vet concerning plane travel with cats.  I consulted the vet about Max and he gave me tranquilizers for the plane trip.  We decided it would be best to calm his nerves, as cats are creatures of habit, and we didn’t know what to expect.  It was also a long plane trip.

I gave the tranquilizers to Max and friends took us to the airport.  Max was about to become a new resident of his third state, but this was a trip not any of us would forget anytime soon.  Instead of calming Max down, the tranquilizers had the opposite affect and he got wild.  Not just a little wild either.  Looking back, I’m not sure this is the best way to go, unless the vet has something better now.  This was back in the 70’s, so drugs have improved I hope.  I would still use tranquilizers with caution.

Once we arrived at the airport, the cat was so wild that our friends were afraid to get back in the car until we got the cat out.  The first mistake I made here was not being prepared with a cat carrier that was airline approved.  While I attempted to get the cat out of the car, my husband went in to get an airline approved cat carrier.  This was taking forever for him to return with the carrier, and in the meantime, the line of cars was forming for departing flights.  I felt rushed, as my friends wanted to move the car out of the way since our luggage was already out, and people were staring at us.

My second mistake was, once I had the cat, taking him into the crowded airport.  I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to hang onto a wild cat in an environment like that, but I knew if I let him go, I would never catch him, and I was fearful for his safety.  The only thing to do was hang on as tight as I could while he sank his claws into my back.  I thought it was better to endure that than to have him escaping into the parking lot with all that traffic.

Finally, I saw my husband coming with the carrier.  When he saw Max and me, he started running through the crowd.  Once we got the cat in the cage, the rest of the journey went okay, except for the panic-stricken cat waiting for us when we landed.

Our move to southern California two years later was by car, and uneventful compared to this.


  1. The suspense of your ordeal at the airport had me on the edge of my seat! Don't know how you managed to hang on with those sharp claws doing their worst!

  2. Valerie,

    I honestly don't know how I managed to hold onto that cat either. I guess it was sheer determination. He left holes in my shirt and I have a scar on my back, but I wasn't about to let him go. I don't know if I could do that today or not.


  3. I love how Max had shared so much with you including traveling.

  4. Hi Journey of Life,

    Yes, Max and I shared a lot together. There were times he seemed like my only true friend, but you know how animals are - always there when you need them.



Thank you for stopping by to read and
comment on my posts. I appreciate it.