Max the Neighborhood Cat

I can’t remember quite when Max appeared in the neighborhood and it wasn’t until some years later that Justin, his owner, told us Max’s origin story.

We realized that this huge carmel tabby, who looked a bit like a wild Pallas cat, expected to come into our house, nap in our cats’ beds, eat our cats’ cat food, and add our house to the several houses in the neighborhood that he visited on his daily patrol.

The Mystery of Max

Many years later, Justin told us this story about Max’s origins:

Justin’s parents had separated, his mom staying in the family house across the street from us and his father moving to another, nearby, neighborhood. While visiting his dad, Justin encountered Max, who wandered from house to house getting fed. Justin was pretty sure he remember Max as a kitten he’d had who had disappeared. So…Justin took Max home to our neighborhood.

I suspect this was a well-intentioned kidnapping, but Justin was positive that Max was his kitten, grown up. At any rate, the relocated Max was perfectly happy to resume his peripatetic ways on our quiet dead-end street.

He trained one household to let him nap in their basement. At another house, he followed them inside when they got home from work, and was giving cheese treats. At our house, he completely made himself at home, often sleeping in a cat bed in our front window, where he could watch the street to see if anyone was arriving home and might want to pet him or let him in.

When Justin’s mom decided to retire to Edmonds and sell their house, they realized Max would be not only disoriented by the move, but that Edmonds prohibits outdoor cats. Thus, Max moved into our house on a permanent basis, taking up residence in the front window.

Max was absolutely wild about contractors. No matter how loud the mower or the saw or the generator, Max was sitting right there at the contractor’s side, supervising. I once wrote a humor column about how to select a contractor. Bids, of course, are important but we didn’t select anyone Max didn’t hang out with during the bid presentation.

Of all the contractors, Max’s favorite was JD, our flooring contractor. JD, a cat owner himself, always fed Max fried chicken for lunch.

Not all our contractors appreciated Max’s involvement. When we had our driveway expanded, the concrete contractors, quite an artiste, beautifully brushed the concrete and returned an hour later to discover Max had walked through it. He brushed it again and—the mind boggles—put up yellow “crime scene” tape and left again. Max, of course, went right under the tape, walked through the concrete, and it dried overnight.

The next day we had to explain to the horrified contractor that we loved having Max’s prints in the concrete. (And, indeed, they were a tremendous comfort to us after Max died.)

Max was a very quiet cat, and this presented a problem. He tended to get locked in people’s garages, and, no matter how much you called to him, he wouldn’t meow back. So a few days later, the people would get home from their weekend vacation, open the garage doors, and Max would explode out of the garage, looking really pissed off.

March 9, 2020—A Moment of Max:

March 17, 2020—A Moment of Max. Soundtrack: Loud purring.:

Feb. 22, 2022—Max went to his grooming appointment with Alex the Cat Groomer. Alex has closed his Shoreline satellite, is building a new place in Bothell, but is currently working out of his old Woodinville office. So that was a schlep, but Max did just fine, listening to audiobooks with me on the ride. Now he is marvelously fluffy, mat-free, and cheerful. Max is a bit forgetful these days (he’s also 17) but gets around surprisingly well and never misses a meal. He thinks the new cat water fountain is a footbath.