In early 2018, a smelly orange cat snuck into a Bushwick apartment building to get out of the snow. Gabe, a musician who lived in the building and found the cat, thought he was a dirty rug at first. He had a wonky eye and matted fur, and was so sad, scared, and tired that he wouldn’t meow.
Gabe’s roommates wouldn’t let him bring the cat inside, but the stinky feline slept all cozy in the hallway while Gabe fed him and sang to him, nursing him back to health.
A few weeks went by, and Gabe felt like he didn’t have the resources to get his cat friend into the best shape, so he got in touch with a local rescue organization called Bushwick Street Cats. They had all his mats shaved, and discovered that he had a microchip and a name: Max.
He wasn’t a stray boy at all. Max’s owner just wasn’t interested in getting him back.
I was looking to adopt my first cat because I know how calming and sweet they can be. But when I met this patchy, lazy-eyed boy at his foster mom’s house, my perspective totally switched: Instead of wanting a pet to make my life better, I immediately wanted to give him the best life possible.
Despite being a bit timid and still weak from his time on the street, Max was gentle, friendly, and curious from the start. Although he would run away from me when I put on my shoes and coat in fear of being thrown back out into the cold, he would curl up on my lap while I worked at my desk and play with the ribbons I left lying around my apartment.
After a few months of living with me and feeling safer every day, his vet and I made the decision to have Max’s eye removed. It wasn’t visual, it could’ve been cancerous, and it was causing him discomfort. The biopsy revealed no cancer, but showed it was majorly damaged by some kind of blunt force trauma. I’m not sure if it happened with his previous owner, or while he was on the streets, but regardless, it’s a wonder that he’s so friendly, with everything he’s been through.
Gabe had been calling him Henry, and I thought I might name him Egg (because he is the color of a fried egg), but he still knew his name from his past life and comes when he’s called. How could I take that away from him? So Max’s full name is Maxwell Henry Egg Myers.
Today, Max is a spoiled floof king, having gained 40% of his body weight to become a strong 15 pounds. He’s the smartest, most obedient cat I’ve ever met, and we are so bonded, it’s bananas. We sit and eat breakfast together. He greets me at the door with little chirps (and sometimes long meows, if I’ve been out late and he’s hungry). If I move to another part of my apartment while he’s sleeping, he wakes up and meows to find me because he’s scared I’ve disappeared.
I love animals, so it’s always difficult for me to fathom how people can dump their pets. Of course, I know life happens. But for someone to dump a cat like Max? It hurts me to think about.
If he has any faults at all, it’s that he isn’t a very good bug catcher. Once, a spider he had caught sight of crawled away, but Max couldn’t figure out where the spider went, so he sat in the same spot for 30 minutes, as if the bug would just reappear. His depth perception is a bit poor.
And speaking of his eyes… This is sort of gross, but because his eyelid sunk into his eye socket after it healed, he can’t rub it or clean it. Soooo he loves when you get the crusties out for him. If you don’t do it with your hands, he’ll make sure your toes go into his eye at night. If you wouldn’t mind popping your toe into a warm melon baller, you might be OK with it, but it’s less than fun for me. Anyway, it’s one of his favorite things, and who am I to deny him these small pleasures?
My favorite thing about Max is how he sleeps on my bed all night, every night. There’s nothing better than waking up and saying good morning to this fluffy boy. He usually says it back.
In fact, Max talks a lot. (I guess this is a Maine Coon thing, which is a breed he might be related to.) It blows my mind that his rescuer never heard him meow, because he’s constantly talking. He knows enough English words that we can have actual conversations. Max will sit down, yell, and stare at me, which is my sign to go through my list of questions until he meows at the one he wants: “Are you hungry? Thirsty? Do you want to play with a ribbon? What about Da Bird? Should we brush your teeth?” (He loves having his teeth brushed. We do it every night.)
Gabe, Max’s rescuer, visited him a few weeks after he came home with me. Gabe was a bit sad, saying that Max didn’t recognize him, but that it was proof of how happy he was in his new home. But I know Max recognized Gabe, because my fluffy boy was suspiciously silent the whole visit. He was showing quiet reverence to the human who gave him so much kindness during that cold winter.
Quinne Myers is an artist, writer, and apparel industry pundit living in Brooklyn, New York. She helps humanize brands through her work, whether that’s by writing quippy content, crafting dreamy illustrations and smart textile designs, or consulting for fashion and lingerie industry start-ups.