The Adventures of Maximus

Maximus in one of his calmer moments.

Maximus, aka The Little Prince, managed to give me a huge scare yesterday. Seems that I should change his name to “Greased Lightning” or something along those lines. Max is a 15-month old Tabby who seems to think that he’s not only fearless, he should be able to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. . . well, at least until Mama Jeeks puts the kabosh on his acting up.

Apparently, while Tony was paying the pizza delivery man somewhere around 6pm yesterday, Maximus bolted out the front door unseen by Tony. The delivery guy didn’t say anything; after all, a lot of folks let their cats out, right? Can’t blame either one of them for Max’s boldness. Since I’ve been feeling sick (again!), I was doing what I do best when I’m ill: Sleeping. I woke up around 9pm, fed the cats, cleaned out the litter box, and flopped down on the couch in the attempt to do some homework for a degree that I truly don’t want – but that’s another story.

I guess it was about midnight that I noticed I was missing a cat. Jeeks had been prowling around the house, intermittently meowing and cocking her head as if listening for a response. I figured Max was asleep in one of his favorite hiding places. Jeeks wanted to play, Max wanted to sleep, so he didn’t meow back at her. When Jeeks kept prowling, I started following her trying to find her adopted kitten. CocoaLoco didn’t care much. She kept at her post next to my feet and ignored the increasingly nervous Tortie searching for her baby. When I got up, CocoaLoco went to her cat bed with a look of disgust on her face – I’m sure she didn’t miss Max at all since he likes to torment her.

By 2am, I’m about frantic. I’m outside on the front porch calling Max as loudly as I dared and trying to not wake up the neighbors. Nothing. I shake the treats bag. Nothing. Bare feet and all, I trot down the stone steps and go to the sidewalk, calling for him again with intermittent shakes of the treats bag.

Nothing.

Since it’s below freezing, I go back into the house to thaw out. I searched the house again, too. Every place I could possibly think of that a cat might hide in for some undisturbed sleep.

No Maximus.

By 5am, I’ve called, searched, walked the front of the house, checked the garage, and worked myself up into tears that I couldn’t find him. I also chastised myself for not realizing earlier in the evening that he was missing. He didn’t come racing like a galloping horse to the food bowl when I refilled them. That should’ve been my first clue that something wasn’t right. I tried laying down, thinking that as soon as it got light out, I’d go looking for him. He’s just a little cat…and it’s a very cold night….and he’s never been outside.

The Girls and Max are rescue cats. I adopted Jeeks back in 2004 from a group in Keller, TX. CocoaLoco got dropped off on my doorstep when I lived in Irving, TX. I told the maintenance guy in my then-apartment complex to bring the abandoned, half-starved, totally-frozen Meezer over to my place and I’d foster her. Well, I kept her. Maximus was given to me by a friend who no longer lives her on Fort Stewart. I got him when he was only about 2 months old, maybe 3 months. After spending a couple of days hissing at him, Jeeks decided to adopt the little ball of grey, black, and sprinkled brown fur that I called Maximus. Luckily, I spent the next year saying, “Max! Max! MAXIMUS! Stop that!” so he got accustomed to his name. My cats don’t go outside. Jeeks and Max will go out on the wooden balcony we have here. CocoaLoco has absolutely no desire to be out of the warm and comfy confines of this place….well, except when the downstairs was on fire and our place was filled with smoke….then she bolted right out the front door and never looked back. Luckily, I found her and was able to calm her down to get her home. She’s not a very trusting cat and when remembering how I found her, and the circumstances of how I managed to get her, I can’t blame her.

So, after waking Tony up with my crying, I told him Max was missing. Tony’s never had pets and he can’t understand my attachment to my cats. He thinks I joke when I say they’re my children, but I’m serious. Losing Max, and my not picking up on it hours before, was extremely upsetting to me. He said he never saw Max go out the front door and I believe that. Max can haul kitty-ass when he wants to, and our front porch light is out. Given that Max is mostly black and gray, he had the perfect camouflage to escape for a little adventure that he probably didn’t figure would last as long as it did…or be as cold as it was.

Unable to stop crying and deciding I wasn’t going to sleep until I found The Little Prince, I opened a window that looked into the backyard of the downstairs apartment. Calling out for Max again, I listened and then went to lay on the couch. It would be light soon, I’d go find him then. After a couple of minutes, I heard a distinct howling meow that I’ve only heard come from Max. That’s his “I’m lost, Mama! Come find me!” mehowl that he developed shortly after coming home with me and not being able to find his way around the apartment. When he’d mehowl, Jeeks would go find him and shepherd him to where ever she wanted him to go so that she could keep an eye on him or resume her nap. Racing to the window, I called his name a few more times. Each “MAX!” was met with his meow, and the occasional mehowl.

I ran into the bedroom, tossed on whatever clothes I could find (figuring it was in poor taste to go wandering the backyard in my PJs), and some shoes….and oh yeah, a coat. Hoping that I wouldn’t fall and break an ankle or leg, and that the neighbors wouldn’t think I was a prowler and call the MPs on me (nope, I didn’t grab my ID before racing out of the house), I went around back. The closer I got to him, the more he meowed before I finally located him. He had taken refuge 2 doors down on their patio under their grill cover. He was being stared down by that family’s cat, who was at their back door looking intently at the intruder on that cat’s property. Quietly opening the gate, I called for Max again and he came running. Scooping him up, I closed the gate and high-tailed it back for the front of the building before someone mistook me for a burglar and shot me.

Once inside, Max immediately demanded to be put down so that he could investigate the house and make sure nothing had changed while he was gone. Jeeks followed him around, squawking (yes, she does squawk) at him. I’m sure the conversation went something like this: “Where the hell were you? Don’t you know you had me and Chief Mama worried? We looked all over for you! You’re grounded!!” He then proceeded to scarf down almost a bowl’s worth of food, suck down half a bowl of water, and hit the litter box before deciding he’d had a long night and it was time to sleep. His favorite place to sleep is on Tony – his back, his feet, next to him if he can’t lay on him. But since he’d put me through the wringer, he curled up with me for a little bit. I vaguely remember him walking over me and settling down on Tony’s side of the bed.

Last night’s adventures have been forgotten by The Little Prince. He sat impatiently at the back door wanting me to open it so he could romp on the balcony. I told him no, that Mama Jeeks had grounded him and that was that. He spent most of the day tormenting Jeeks and CocoaLoco. As I write this, he and Jeeks are curled up on the couch. Max has her in a loose headlock, with his head resting on hers. Where’s the camera when you need it?

Let’s hope that this is the first and last installment of “The Adventures of Maximus”. My nerves can’t take another jail-break on his part.

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