This is Massimo.
Otherwise known as Massi, Massi-moto, Masser-ati. But in our house, it’s mostly just Massi. Pronounced Ma (as in “Ma ‘n Pa”) and See. Emphasis on first syllable. Got it? Good.
We adopted him almost two years ago from a very sweet couple with a very sweet dog. But Massi couldn’t stand the dog. In his old house, he opted to lay in a crumpled, fluffy heap in one room all day long. Mutual friends knew we wanted a cat and passed along a picture. We said we’d go check him out – but I already knew. I was already smitten. With those suede blue, old-soul eyes. We brought him home the very next day and have yet to fully recover.
FLUFF ALERT: Those of you with severe cat dander allergies might need to grab your inhaler before viewing the next few pictures.
Look at that. Just look at that! Don’t you just wanna bury your nose in it? Even if your nostrils are bound to fill with silky-soft creme colored strands of fur in such abundance you may literally suffocate? My God, how could one being BE so so fluffy?
Gaaaah ! Snnnnoooooorfle. (ahem, excuse me) After obsessively poring through the Internets, I’ve concluded he is a Balinese. This breed was actually a mutant offshoot of the Siamese. So he’s basically a longhaired Siamese cat. He doesn’t have the ‘undercoat’ that other longhairs, like Persiansdo. It’s all one flowing river of silky fluff.
This is a constant distraction for me every day. As I walk form the bathroom back to the little shiny box where I do my Very Important Stuff, I pass this.
Sometimes he carefully stretches himself out so his silvery brown drumsticks stick out straight behind him. What the hell am I supposed to do? Not notice? No, I do what I usually do. Which is devolve into a sloppy puddle of goo and stare at him, slack-jawed. And probably pet him.
ZOMG and the toes! With the widdle silvery-brown, fluffy toehawks peeking out. While he demurely covers his face with his paws. Egads, it’s just too much sometimes.
My life has gotten a bit more complicated since we started letting him go outside. It took day upon agonizing day for me to work up to this point. I’d happily had outdoor cats before without batting an eye. But I’m older and much more “worri-ful” now. The Internets have revealed various horror stories about what can happen to cats outdoors and the overwhelming message is LETTING CATS OUTDOOR IS A SIN AND MEANS YOU DON’T LOVE THEM AT ALL.
But we have these big sliding glass doors where he’s been longingly looking outside every since he got here. He meows like a horse-whipped child to be let outside. And I just couldn’t bear it any longer.
So now he gets to go out in the backyard and the lot next door, though heavily supervised by his cat mom. We’ve made sure the perimeter is secure enough that he can’t get out. But I’m a nervous, neurotic cat mom and living in the desert there’s plenty of other things a gal like me can worry about. Like all these sticky evil things that pepper the land around us.
My neighboring desert denizens, the ones who have actually lived here a while, assure me that he’ll be just fine around the cactus. And it’s true, there’s tons of cats running around cactus all the time around here and nothing ever seems to happen to them. But daaamn, Massi just loves to go right up to the cactus. Right up to the very long, sticky spines. With his nose. His soft, sensitive nose sniffing and getting friendly with those spines! Yikes!
But I figured I should toughen up. I don’t want to be a crazy, neurotic, obssessive cat lady. I want Massi to have a fulfilling happy life without some stoopid human cramping his style. So I let him roam around mostly where he wants to. But I shadow him, juuuuust in case.
Then the other day, as he was walking past a particularly gnarly patch of cactus, Massi spied a lizard. Now you must understand, poor Massi has been desperately trying to catch anything alive and kill it. And he’s come up empty-mouthed every time. But when he spies something small and scurrying, he’ll do just about anything to get at it – including jump right into the bowels of the prickly pear. Fark! I seized up, I cringed – but so far, so good. Cats are just amazingly agile and graceful creatures that can flow into any non-water-based environment like spirits in the night. I started to relax, even unclenching my jaw. Massi had abandoned the hunt, losing sight of his prey, and lay on the sand figuring out his next move. His lovely, waterfall of a tail was waving back and forth and back and forth and back and – froze. He’d waved his tail right smack up against a prickly pear pad and it was stuck there like a tack in cork board. Holy crap!!!
(This is the gnarly cactus patch.)
So I freaked out – rather quietly, so Massi wouldn’t try to bolt and get even more skewered. I was momentarily frozen, not sure what to do. Massi’s tail, the very end of it that was NOT skewered on prickly pear spines, started twitching a bit. Seems Massi had finally realized he couldn’t move his tail. He didn’t seem panicked or even in pain. But he was starting to feel irritated that his tail was no longer under his command. And an unusually deep kitty growl started emanating from him. I shook my wits back together, leaned in and just popped his tail back off the cactus. Then I carefully shooed him out of the cactus patch. Once he was clear, I checked him out all over. No spines, nothing. My heart was still hammering, though, and I was convinced these spines had some kind of poison that would at some point render him paralyzed – or worse! After 24 hours, I conceded to myself that he really was fine. But because I’m a wacky, neurotic, worri-ful cat mom, I now shoo him away from cactus when I see him getting too close. And my God, people, how do you all raise actual human children on a daily basis?? Without being committed?? I truly can’t fathom it.
Cactus aren’t the only sticky things around here. The lot next door is full of mesquite trees, but not the smooth-limbed Velvet kind. These are Chilean Mesquites – and as you can see, their thorns can grow as big as my thumb. This ain’t no land for wusses, that’s for sure.
Other than the occasional cactus calamity, here are Massi’s normal outdoor activities:
Scritch, scritch, scritch.
Nom, nom, nom.
Purr, purr, purr.
Ugh, and then there’s Pepe. At this moment, Massi is investigating the herb garden out of sight. Unaware his nemesis has invaded his territory.
Bad Pepe. He’s the bully of the block. And just look at those yellow eyes.
Evil yellow kitty eyes. He’s always meowing and begging for attention from the humans. But he’s known for whipping the asses of every kitty in the hood. I’ve never not liked a cat until I got Massi and realized that Pepe would love to wipe the street with his fluffy butt. So now I just spray him with a hose – like I did right after taking this picture. Which made me feel a little mean, but as Massi’s protector, I have a job to do.
Hmm, the one thing I have not been able to capture with my camera phone so far are Massi’s eyes. They’re almost like human eyes, with the whites showing. If reincarnation is real, I think Steve McQueen might be peering out of them. But whenever I try to snap a nice closeup with the phone, Massi starts claiming it by rubbing his face on it and then I just get another closeup of fluff. So here’s a silly video I made to test out my new phone. He’s a little irritated, but get a load of those peepers! Just don’t listen to my silly, baby-talking, cat mom voice. My IQ lowers by about 50 points when I talk to him. Ugh.