Saturday, March 29, 2014

Maximus: our newest arrival on the Unfarm

As you may remember, last year the Unfarm took several hits including the loss of Aspen, bringing our cat population down to one. Or half, maybe, because Mynx is rarely seen by anyone but myself and you cannot really pet her, let alone pick her up.  She is convinced that any attempts at affection are in truth a thinly veiled threat: surely we mean to harm her in some horrible manner and she screams bloody murder until we set her down and she can bolt back under the bed. 

Mynx's attitude combined with the loss of Aspen six months prior had me thinking: perhaps it might be time to start contemplating the addition of another feline to our household. Mynx did seem to be lonely, after all - she had taken to spending an unnatural amount of time outdoors hanging out with Chico, the neighborhood riffraff who technically resides next door but is regularly seen throughout the neighborhood terrorizing other cats and all small creatures that creep, crawl or fly. Hardly the kind of character we want Mynx associating with, even if he does seem to have a soft spot for our spotted softie.  

It seemed, therefore, serendipitous that last November I should receive an email from our local cat shelter, announcing that they too would be participating in the Black Friday madness: all of their black or mostly black cats would be available for adoption for the bargain price of $10, a whopping 90% off the usual price. Being the good bargain shopper my mother taught me to be, I could hardly pass up a deal like that now could I? The only real question was this: how to narrow it down to just one...? 
Maximus in a rare moment of stillness

My sister and I spent an arduous hour trying to decide which cat would become the newest member of the Unfarm. There were all manner of choices: sleepy kittens, playful kittens, striped kittens, spotted kittens, solid kittens, male kittens, female kittens and every combination thereof. Holding kitten after kitten was a tiresome, tedious task but we somehow managed to persevere, eventually settling on a small, black kitten who was in a kennel by himself, sitting quietly beside the door. (We had learned our lesson, you see - we chose Aspen because he was the "spunky" kitten in the litter, and I am pretty sure that most of his adult life was spent plotting ways to inflict harm upon his human captors, so this time around we went for calm and quiet.)  Acknowledging that this would be a companion for our Mynxy cat, we were also looking for a younger, male cat who might pose the least possible threat to Mynx. 
Max loves to play with plastic bags

The name Maximus was settled on in part because it went so well with Mynx and we headed home with our newest family member, bracing ourselves for the fallout: we had not asked permission to adopt Max knowing that had we asked we would have been told no. Mom's reaction was fairly predictable: she feigned dismay but spent an awful lot of time cuddling with something that "we can't possibly keep." Dad's reaction was exactly as predicted. We told him to close his eyes and hold out his hands. He did as requested and the second we set Max into his hands he burst out with, "Oh no!" and looked crestfallen to say the least. 
Max enjoys kitten food, long walks on the beach, and watching TV

Despite the odds, my parents came around to the idea of Max becoming a permanent fixture here on the Unfarm (this process was likely easier for Mom than it was for Dad) and part of the deciding factor may have been the effect Max had on my sister. She had been in something of a bad mood - which is putting it mildly to say the least, and she can be quite scary when she's in a bad mood - earlier in the day and Max was more effective (and faster acting) than Prozac on her sour mood. Kitten adoption fee: $10. Kitten food, toys, and assorted supplies: $54. Changing my sister from a fire breathing dragon to a cuddly teddy bear: Priceless.

Footnote: Thus far, Mynx has not appreciated our efforts to give her a companion to spend her days with and looks upon Max as some kind of tiny terror with ADHD whose main goal in life is to ruin hers. 
Despite what Mynx thinks, Max really does look up to Mynx. He is often seen making a careful study of her and trying to follow in her footsteps.

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