Mai-loo’s Wonderful Life

Mai-loo - intrepid explorer

Mai-loo was my cat. But as any cat owner surely knows, I was more her human. We were together for eight years. She died last week after a tragic battle against several mysterious and “unrelated” ailments. But this is not about her untimely death. It is about her life.

Anyone who lives with pets, cats or dogs (and probably many other animals), knows well that each has their own unique personality. Cats, particularly, are smart, clever, and have a great sense of humor. They have long memories, are extremely loyal, and return affection for no other reason than to love, all of which are contrary to many long-held misconceptions.

Mai-loo was left under my kitchen sink by her mother. She was at most a couple of days old. Eyes still closed. I live in Thailand where in older and traditional Thai houses the kitchens are outside the main house. Though my house is surrounded by a high wall, a small crack behind my sink allowed entry for a small animal.

Mai-loo - Yoga cat

One morning I had gone out to the kitchen to make breakfast and heard this tiny sound; mee-you, mee-you. In Thai language, it sounds like a little voice saying my-roo, which means “I don’t know.” When I opened the cabinet below the sink, there was this itsy thing, barely squirming. I asked her what she was doing there and she answered, my-roo. In northern Thai dialect, my-roo, is spoken as mai-loo. The itsy thing now had a name.

Remembering something from my childhood about not touching bird eggs in a nest or the mothers won’t tend to them, I didn’t touch Mai-loo, but left her for another day, hoping her mother would return. Her crying went on non-stop for about twelve hours before I relented. I canvassed all the pet shops in my town, plus the animal hospitals, but found nothing for new-born cats. I ended up with puppy formula and began a weeks-long regimen of feeding this tiny creature by syringe (no needle of course). For something only about three inches long, she was incredibly aggressive at her attack on the syringe whenever I fed her, which was about four times a day. She grew quickly, and had no health problems.

I don’t think Mai-loo ever accepted that she was a cat. Her mother did comeback about four months later squeezing through the same crack with two of her kittens. Both were incredibly cute black and white fluffy balls of furs, nothing whatsoever like Mai-loo. But Mai-loo was an exact replica of her mother; a mottled Cheetah-like brown and yellow. Upon introduction, all cat hair became full-blown, followed immediately with threatening guttural growls. After receiving such a discouraging welcome, the mother retreated through the wall, follow by her kittens. Since that meeting, Mai-loo has never allowed another cat, male or female, within her territory.

As time went on, Mai-loo not only became the ideal cat, but the ideal roommate and friend. She only liked dried cat food and the some moist food. She never went into the garbage or scratched on anything other than her seven foot tall cat tree (I had custom built). I allowed her to walk on anything she wanted except for kitchen counters, and she never did.

She enjoyed playing, but she played rough. She loved to be tossed high in the air, flipping around in amazing acrobatics before I would catch her. To keep from being injured myself, I found that as long as I wore no clothes, she would never scratch me. She instinctively knew that my skin wasn’t as tough as her hide.

Sharing a nap with me.

Mai-loo was clever. When she wanted food or to go out, she’d hop on my computer desk and softly mew. She had one mew for going out and another for food. She never cried loudly like other cats I’ve known. When she wanted to play, she had a whole different  approach. She’d lie hidden somewhere, patiently waiting for me to walk by—then she’d spring out and bat me a half-dozen times with her paws and race out of the room as I chased her.

But many times Mai-loo would do things that were anything but cat-like. She’d  spend hours sitting by me at the computer watching me work, or even watch movies with me. I know, you’re thinking that cats don’t really watch movies, they’re just sitting with you. There were many times I’ve come into the living room and caught her perched on the back of the sofa watching TV by herself.

Mai-loo watching the Tour de France.

Cats have moods, and things can piss them off. They are not unlike humans in that regard. They are emotional and can have their feelings hurt. When my girlfriend moved in with us, the fur went flying! Mai-loo wouldn’t let Oam anywhere near her. To show her utter displeasure, she peed on Oam’s pillow. But instead of getting angry, Oam took a different approach. She laid in wait for Mai-loo, just as Mai-loo would do with me, and when she pranced by, Oam sprang out! Mai-loo jumped four feet straight up and jetted out of the house like a cartoon character. Now, you might think this would be the worst possible thing to do, but later that same day, Mai-loo bushwhacked Oam in the same way. From that day on, they were inseparable.

Mai-loo became more tolerant of people since she took to Oam, but only for one or two pets on the head before she’d bat their hand away. Now, this changed only one time when a wild rabbit decided that Mai-loo was his perfect mate. The one physical distinction Mai-loo had was no tail. The rabbit thought Mai-loo was a rabbit too, and hopped all around trying to nuzzle her. Mai-loo didn’t know what to make of the rabbit, who was a large as she, but knew it wasn’t a cat. She didn’t hiss at it, but did bat its head over and over to no effect because she never used her claws. This went on for days. I’d come out in the morning and they’d be sitting on either side of the front stoop like Egyptian sphinxes. Finally, the caretaker of my house took the rabbit home to his kids. I had to make him promise not to eat it. Thais eat most anything.

Mai-loo and bunny giving each other the stink eye.

Through the years, Mai-loo was the most steadfast, loyal, and caring creature I’ve ever known. We went through many adventures together, small in the scope of the world, but meaningful in the lives of the participants. She knew when I was feeling bad for one reason or another, and would come to sit on my chest and lick my face. She was by my side all the time I was flat on my back after my heart surgery recently. She never complained or caused me grief, but always made me wonder at what funny new thing she would do.  She never lost her kittenness, her natural curiosity, or her wicked playfulness.

Mai-loo and friends.

If, in fact, the cliché, the good die young, is true, then Mai-loo certainly qualifies. She was pure innocence, a spirit of light and goodness. For anyone who believes that only humans have souls, surely have never known an animal with any intimacy. I know Mai-loo had a warm, loving, and happy life. I’m grateful and a better person for having spent a portion of my life with her.

Stuart Land

I am a multi-genre novelist, screenwriter, and multi-medium sculptor. I have worked in the Fine Arts, and the Movie Industry.

31 Comments:

  1. Oh, Stuart, I’m so sorry to hear Mai-loo died. She was a beautiful kitty and I’m sure you miss her.

  2. Stuart,

    I’m really sorry to learn of your loss.

    I know how cats are not the kind of pets most people will make them out to be: I have been sharing my life with one for the last 13 years. The few times I’ve done something brave or selfless, it has been for my cat. I’d be devastated to lose her, as you must be right now.

    I am saddened, and I didn’t even get to know her.

    Mai-loo has led one happy life, though, so I hope you’ll continue to be happy while remembering her.

    This might sound silly, but I have the belief that eventually you’ll get to meet her again.

    Best regards,

    Ron

    • I really appreciate your sentiments, Ron. I hope your kitty stays around a long time. I think that if there is anyone I’d like to meet in the next life, it would be her.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Stewart. This was so beautiful. I had tears in my eyes. Sad tears for your loss and happy tears for the fab life she lived. And I can’t believe you live in Thailand. I’m from Malaysia, although I now live in the States. And my pooch Milo was named after the hot cocoa drink Milo. And I simply adore Mai-loo’s name. =)
    If there is a Heaven, I hope all pets go there. I hope they’re in a happy place. Here is a poem that a fellow blogger shared w. me and I hope it will help comfort you . . .

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
    There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
    There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
    The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

    • Lisa, so sweet of you to share that poem. I think our animals bring heaven to us while they’re here. Even now, I still feel Mai-loo’s presence all around me. Seems like we were ships passing in the night, you leaving Malaysia and me coming to Thailand. I truly hope you are happy in the states, but get to visit you country from time to time. Yes, I know Milo well, sometimes being impatient for the water to boil, I’d pop a spoonful of the dry powder into my mouth. haha! Great name for a pooch. I hope we chat again. Take care.

  4. What a beautiful tribute to your sweet and amazing Mai-loo… such a beautiful portrait of her and your life together. I hope it was a little bit cathartic for you, too.. you are a writer, and that’s what will get you through.

    I know how much you miss her, and how much she will always be around.

  5. I love this sentence: small in the scope of the world, but meaningful in the lives of the participants.

    This is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful animal.

  6. If I post a music video to my Facebook page, it may get a couple of comments or Likes on average. If I post a photo of my cat (any cat, probably), seven or eight people will almost immediately Like it! When cats get under your skin, they *really* get under your skin. I could probably name at least four, maybe five cats that have done that so far; and I completely agree that having shared some time with them I’m a slightly better person for it.

    Stuart, this is a lovely tribute.

  7. Stuart,

    What a beautiful story, a celebration of a life that cannot be replaced. I am certain God has taken her and she feels no more pain. Take care, my friend.

    Michael Phelps

  8. I loved your tribute to Mai-loo! I’m currently owned by three cats myself, and my feline soulmate died 5 years ago and still my heart aches. Beautiful creatures, aren’t they? She was very lucky to have you! My heartfelt condolences.

  9. I loved reading your story Stuart. I think Mai- loo lasted longer than any other female in your life. She must have been special.
    Love, Toni

    • Thank you, Toni. Yes, she was a very special female in my life, as were all who I’ve been privileged to know, including you. I remember, fondly, every second we spent together.

  10. Stuart, this is a wonderful story about your dear friend, Mai-loo. I only knew her for a short time, but her eyes pierced my soul. I will miss seeing her with you.
    Love
    sis

  11. I’m so sorry for the loss of your fur-baby, Stuart. I’ve been through this several times with my dogs. They come with built-in heartache because they don’t live as long as we want them to. I’m reminded of a quote by Anatole France. “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Your soul is alive and well.
    Nancy

  12. So beautifully written and a lovely tribute to Mai-loo, I am so sorry for your loss.

  13. If Mai-loo could appreciate a blog, she’d be really happy with what you’ve written here. As an animal-lover, I empathise and hope your bereavement is short, but your memory is long. Tim

    • I love what you wrote, Tim. It means a lot me. I’m finding that sharp pangs of loss are being replaced with all the wonderful memories Mai-loo and I shared together. We had solid love for eight full years.

  14. I love Cats and have so many of my own cat stories and so enjoyed this one. What a beautiful cat! Beautiful story!

  15. I’m so sorry for your lost, Stuart. She seems to have been a remarkable and amazing spirit. I’m touched by the tribute and the fact you took the time to share her with the rest of the world. Thank you for that.

    ~ Catrina

  16. So sorry for your loss! I hope that time lessens the pain. We were blessed recently with finding a 4 week old kitten abandoned in traffic, and took him home with us (now 9 wks old). He can be like the Taz Devil when he’s excited, but will also curl up on my husband’s shoulder and lick and purr.
    Your Mai-loo sounds like she was the perfect companion for you over the years; you were lucky to have shared this with her.
    my best, Rae

  17. Mai-Loo was my friend too. I’m sorry that she was not feeling well for some time. I am also sorry that you have lost your faithful companion Stuart, and having experienced similar loss myself I know the pain you are feeling now. Writing this blog was a wonderful dedication to her. My sympathy to both of you, my friends. Ted Albrecht

  18. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your beautiful Mai-loo. She seems like a remarkable cat soul. As a confirmed cat lover [I have 3, one of whom is laying on my keyboard right now and making it hard to type], I know what you are talking about. Cats are special precious creatures, unlike any other. You were both so lucky to have each other. Thank you for sharing her story.

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