The Ballad of Max and Lulu

My cat is very confused. He thinks he’s really a dog.

His name is Max. We were doing a play of mine called “The Measure of a Man” about the life of German boxer Max Schmeling when we got Max and his sister Lulu from our neighbor. Our neighbor was an older fella who fed all the strays on the block, all of whom went to the bathroom in our backyard. But the poor guy was lonely so we never made a stink about it, no pun intended. The cats were both kittens at the time and he wanted them to avoid becoming strays as well, so we offered to take them. Max was named after Max Schmeling, of course, and Lulu was named after Joe Louis, who famously fought Schmeling twice during the build-up to World War II.

From the beginning Max and Lulu were very different. Lulu was skittish and didn’t like to be touched much. The slightest sound in the house would cause her to come to attention and bolt to safety if necessary. If someone knocked on the front door she about lost her ever-loving mind, and between that and the fact that we had two small children at the time, Lulu spent most of her time shaking under the kitchen table. She looked like she was at an AA meeting and the coffee ran out.

Max, on the other hand, would roll over and offer his belly to be rubbed at the drop of a hat. He’d stick all four legs straight out and crane his neck back as if to say, “Take me, I’m yours. Don’t be gentle—I like it rough!” I swear Lulu looked at him with something like cat disdain. He was breaking all the feline codes of conduct: be cool, be aloof, don’t let them know you need them in any way, don’t trust them, they will hurt you. Everyone ends up hurting you. Everyone leaves. Better to make yourself steel than to cry later. Lulu had some commitment issues.

Max had no such problem. His other problems, however, more than compensated. Like the fact that although Lulu was his sister he mounted her like a porno star whenever he got the chance. We took him to the vet and it was too early to have him snipped, though Lulu offered to pay for it. She was trapped in a white trash, Jerry Springer nightmare until the unthinkable happened. Yes, Max and Lulu had a bunch of little Max’s and Lulu’s. Max was delighted to become a father and uncle at the same time. Lulu sought counseling. (Don’t worry, we found good homes for the kittens.)

Max continued to be Max, seeking attention, and food, and acting like the front yard was his personal Amazon jungle and he was Jungle Kitty, the most ferocious cat in the western hemisphere. We caught him wearing a little mask and a cape once, but we chalked it up to an overactive imagination. He also adores Christmas. I’m not sure how we know this with such certainty, but we do. Max is a big, sleek, kinda slow witted, loyal, Bacchanalian comfort-seeker, who isn’t cat enough to know he should be cool.

And, apparently, he’s a incestuous rapist.

The day we moved out of the Irish death house (see my previous blog “How the Irish Tried to Kill My Family”), the one that was missing windows and such, we left the cats in the empty house with food and their box. When we came to pick them up the next morning, only Max was still there. To Lulu, all her fears of abandonment had come true and she wasn’t going to wait around here and starve to death. I can only imagine the conversation that transpired in that empty house:

“They’re never coming back, you know.”

“Of course they are. They love us.”

“Love! Ha! What do they know about love? Remember when their kid tried to ride you?”

“Well, they feed us and they pet us…”

“It was all a set-up. The whole thing. Get us to trust them so they could up and leave us here with nothing but our wits to survive. Well, I’ll survive on my wits, you I’m not so sure. They never loved us. It was in their eyes. Love is a mirage. A trap to get us to lower our guards. The only one who cares about you is YOU, and you’re a fool to think otherwise.”

“Wow. (pause) Don’t you love Christmas?”

“I’m outta here.”

Needless to say when we came the next day, only Max was waiting for us. We looked and looked for Lulu to no avail. Now I know our neighbors left food on their front porch for their cats, so I can only imagine she attached herself to the family with windows. In retrospect, I can hardly blame her. A couple of weeks later I was passing by the house and saw her on the lawn. I pulled over and got out of the car and slowly approached her. She looked at me like I was a stranger and bolted into the woods. We’re never adopting a feral cat again.

Max, on the other hand, still kills us with kindness. We can’t sit in our office chair upstairs without him jumping into our laps and demanding some affection. He’s easier than Lindsay Lohan at last call. He’s a dog in cat’s clothing, and that’s just the way we like him.

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    • Joel Flowers
    • March 31st, 2011

    We just adopted a feral kitten. He was one of nine that we feed avery day, and somehow domesticated himself. He’s turned out to be the best kitten in the world. He also thinks he’s a dog!

  1. I think there’s something to that. Feral kittens don’t learn how to be cats from other cats, so they end up acting like dogs instead. Max is the best pet I’ve ever had.

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