Born June 30, 1996
At Rest October 20, 2003
First of all Max is NOT a Ragdoll. He was born in a barn. He father was a Himalayan that roamed the neighborhood and his mother a calico. I felt sorry for him and took the little one to my place until I could find a home for him and, of course, our home became his. He was the friendliest, bravest kitten we ever had. He purred for everyone.
We noticed that he was having problems when he was about 4 months old. He would cry when you picked him up and when he would sleep, he would put his hind feet practically in his ears. I couldn't see how a kitten could physically do this. We took him in for x-rays thinking that he might have a broken rib or some other injury. My veterinarian found that he had hip dysplasia and had also noticed an enlarged liver, his eyes were cloudy, and his nose had a funny shape to it. What we didn't know is that these were all indicators of a serious problem.
In December, Max started losing use of his back legs and could only drag himself around. It was critical that we do something fast and we took him to a neurosurgeon who examined him and ran some extensive tests. He was having some type of spinal compression which the neurosurgeon was sure that he could fix. It was a long and tedious surgery and the surgeon contacted and informed us that what he had found inside was not good news. Tiny fibers had wrapped themselves around his spinal cord and he had very carefully taken these off. He doubted that Max would ever walk again. He was also going to contact a Dr. Giger in Pennsylvania to try and get a definite diagnosis on what he saw.
Max was able to come home on Christmas eve. He spent Christmas on my lap in a blanket and enjoyed being home. My den became a nursery for the little cat that had most of the hair on his back shaved off and could only drag himself around with his front legs. While it made his human parents sad, he did it quite cheerfully, never missing going into his sandbox. This guy was going to need alot of care but I was up to the challenge. I would do a little physical therapy on him to keep his muscles in shape. One day, as I was doing this, his little tail flipped in anger. He hadn't been able to move it before! The feeling slowly came back into his legs. We held his tail to steady him and he would scoot through the house. Although none of my other cats were allowed outside, he goes for walks so he can enjoy himself and forget his troubles. One day, it was too cold for him to go out with his still partially bare back so I put a dog coat on him. He was embarrassed but endured it.
Four months after Max's surgery, he started feeling like a kitten again and wanted to play. My older cats were about 14 and 15 years old and weren't interested and I searched for the perfect companion for him and found the RAGDOLL breed. I contacted a breeder and ended up with a male (altered) kitten and found the Ragdoll to be a good companion, being quieter and more laid back. We named him Sapphire. He did not jump at Max, which would have really hurt him, but they would play and sometimes sleep together. It was a good choice. Enjoying Sapphire was how I got interested in breeding. So, I guess we could say that it is all Max's fault!
The results of his problems came in that he has MPS. Officially called Mucopolysacchridosis. It is a storage disease where his cells can't regenerate like a normal animal does. He was given less than a year to live. As of now (June 2002), he is 6 years old. Needing daily medication and alot of care. The cloudy corneas, enlarged liver, spinal compression, broad nose, etc. were all indicators of this rare disease. Children can have this disease also, so blood, urine, and skin biopsy samples were sent to the research labs to hopefully help the research on this disease to help other cats and children. Maybe Max's life indeed has meaning and purpose besides being my beloved pet and companion.
Max likes to lay on things as we feel that this must ease his hip dysplasia which gives him the most trouble. So, my mom made several little pillows for him that are strategically placed all over the house. He cannot jump or climb so he has ramps to get up to the couch and our bed. He sleeps cuddled in my arms every night. We built a sunroom addition to our house and it was designed with him in mind with steps and a landing so that he can get over to a climber and sleep and we put a gas fireplace in the room to heat it which Max found immediately and warms his bones in front of it on the coldest of days. He has a special wicker bed on the floor of our bedroom which is his favorite place to sleep. If another cat has laid in his bed, he will sit and look at it in disgust until someone changes the towel in it to a clean one.
Although it may sound like Max is uncomfortable with all of his troubles, he looks at life quite cheerfully. He has better days than others but moves through the house, washing, purring, and eating like crazy. He looks a little rough because his haircoat is a disaster as it mattes, but that is only on the outside. His braveness and strength of character sets a good example for us all.
June 2002 Update.
In May of this year, Max almost lost his brave battle to live but was once again saved by my very dedicated veterinarian. I cherish each additional day now even more than ever.
June 2003 Update.
Max miraculously turned 7 years old on June 30th. I bought a birthday cake to take to my vets as a thank you for the years of caring that they have given to Max. I wanted to take a picture of Max and his cake and sat next to him on the couch to have a friend take the picture. We couldn't believe it as Max dove into the frosting eating it as fast as he could. It was so funny to see him enjoy this part of his birthday. Although certainly in the twilight of life now, I was so pleased to see that he at least enjoyed what could be his last birthday.
October 20, 2003.
It is with great sorrow that I announce the passing of my beloved Max on Monday October 20th. He had fought the good fight for over 7 years and had beaten the odds but the time had come to let him go.
On the "Max Epitaph page are a couple of poems that got me through my last day that I spent with him knowing that it was the end and they told me what I must do. We both thank all of you for your caring and concerns through the years.
He has taken a great piece of me with him and I have lost not only him but a way of life with the care that he had needed but may he at least now Rest In Peace.
In rememberance, we have planted a tree in Max's honor on our property. It has heart shaped leaves and fragrant flowers in the spring.
"If Tears Could Build A Stairway, And Memories A Lane, I'd Walk Right Up To Heaven And Bring You Home Again."
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