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0 Boating Adventures | "Max the Showering Cat" | Article and Photos by Vicki Totten

Max after reading the morning paper.
Lately I have found myself seeking out stories about cats living on boats. I wonder how you know if your cat is a good candidate for boat living? There are a few cats living on boats in the harbor, and I sometimes see them lying around sunbathing on a boat's deck, looking quite content. I know that part of my wondering about this has to do with trying to figure out if I am willing to bring another furry friend into my life, since I am still very much grieving the death of my cat Max, who died this past Christmas.

For the past 16 years when I was home, Max was always nearby. He was hard to miss. He was a huge slightly overweight orange and white cat who wasn't afraid of anything or anybody. Think Garfield. Each year when my husband would have his Annual Pottery Show, Max liked to park himself in the main entry way, forcing everyone to stop and if not pet him, at least notice him. My husband first brought Max home with him after a trip to Arkansas to see his Dad. The small flea bitten kitten had been living under his Dad's house. Our 27 year old son was only 11 when Max came to live with us, so it is hard to remember a time when Max wasn't part of the family.

Max, Cisco, and Thomas

When Max was younger, it didn't seem to matter if we were around or not - as long as we kept his food dish full and his water dish clean. He was always picky about the water dish thing. But as he aged, he became more and more loving and always wanted to be near us where ever we were - which included being near us in the shower. Oh yes, Max loved his showers.

All I had to do was turn the water on, and regardless of what part of the house he was in, suddenly he was right there at my feet. Or, in the case of the shower water, he was there literally, in the shower with me, often waiting for me to get in myself. I don't know how his obsession with water got started. I know when he was younger I would notice that sometimes instead of running from the sprinkler, he seemed to be chasing it around.

But Max's obsession with the shower was legendary among our friends. It was so strong that he took to either sleeping in front of the shower or sitting on the scale that sat next to the shower. That way, whenever one of us would happen to pass through the bathroom - which is our shortcut from the bedroom into the main living area - he would come to attention and begin talking to us plaintively. He had quite the verbal repertoire. If he happened to have settled in the other room and heard the water running, I would hear him scamper across the wood floor headed quickly into the bathroom. And if either my husband or I happened to beat him into the shower, he would whine at the door until we let him in with us. Whenever we had guests staying at the house, we had to always warn them that Max was going to want to take a shower with them.

Hiding behind the pillows on the off limits bed.

Max seemed to think he was invisible - or else he really wanted to travel.

See how my humans torture me - that water should be mine!
It wasn't clear to us exactly what he then wanted once he was inside the shower. When I have tried to trace back his fascination with the shower, I think it began to become an actual obsession a few years ago when he developed an eye infection. The vet gave us medicine for it, but it was healing very, very slowly. We discovered, however, that by dousing his eye while he was in the shower, he seemed to get some relief and it began to heal. He would sit very still on his little tiled bench inside the shower and allow us to totally soak him, never protesting or trying to get away. Usually when he would jump up on his perch, he was satisfied to just feel the spray of the shower and to catch the drips from the shower head. And yes, I admit it, I would often turn the water down at the end of my shower and let it drip into his mouth. But several times my husband and I both showered him from head to toe and, again, he made no protest. That became his thing. Taking two showers a day whenever we were home. He must have been the cleanest cat on the block. And when we would come home from being on the boat, he would immediately try and steer us toward the shower, complaining the entire way. Honestly, we do shower when we are in Rockport, so I don't really think he was worried about our cleanliness.

But now that Max is gone, I am aware of just how much a part of my everyday experience he was. If I was sitting down at my computer, he was sitting right next to me. When I would read the paper in the morning, he liked to read the paper with me - situating his extremely large body in my lap in a way that forced me to read the paper with my arms lifted in the air, as if I intended to fly the paper instead of read it. And then, when I would get up in the morning and head to the bathroom, he was there, waiting for me to reach down and pet him. One time, he even left a gift for me. As I reached down in the dark bathroom to pet him, I realized his fur didn't feel quite right. My blood curdling scream caused my husband to bolt upright in bed, alerting him to the fact that Max had left a dead rat in front of the toilet as a little love offering.

Then there was the Christmas Eve when Max somehow managed to squeeze through his cat door with a live owl in his mouth. It took some creative thinking with our adult kids who were staying the night for us to free the Owl. We found a long fishing net in our shed and attached a longer pole with duct tape to it. We then removed the screen from a large casement window. There were eight windows at a height of about 10 feet up, which meant we had to chase the frightened bird from window to window until we finally caught him in the net. We then were able to lift him outside the window where he flew off, never to be seen again. For years, however, we would find stray feathers in those upper windows.

With Max gone, I at least have lots of memories - although much fewer pictures of him than I would like. So I will never know if Max would have made a good boat cat. Since I do know, however, that he was as obsessed with water as his boat loving owners, I suspect he might have enjoyed living on a boat.

Maybe one day I will get the nerve up to consider having a cat on the boat with us. Some of the stories and pictures I found on-line make it look promising. But in the meantime, every time I step into the shower, I will think of Max. Max the water cat who loved taking showers. And Max the water cat who was very much loved.


A Max look alike I found on-line - on a boat.

Another brave boat cat I found on-line

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Vicki and husband, ceramic artist Stan Irvin, are both retired professors who have discovered the joys of Rockport and living part-time on their 33' sailboat, while exploring new sailing destinations and adventures.

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