It is with much sadness that our beloved Mao Mao (also known as Chairman Mao) has recently crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I wanted to write something to honour his memory and to celebrate a decade of human and cat friendship.
I first met Mao Mao when I moved back to Perth in 2007. I was looking for somewhere to live, and as I pulled onto the driveway of a property I was going to look at, I saw this big black and white cat walking along the wooden fence. Mao was the largest cat I had ever seen, and that was essentially my first impression of Mao Mao. He was huge! He proceeded to jump off the fence to welcome me and brushed his face against my jeans. I learned that my then soon-to-be-new housemate, Wei, selected her housemates based on Mao Mao’s reaction. If he showed affection, then it meant you were a good person. I thought it was quite a novel way to select a housemate.
Anyway, I moved in with Wei and Mao two days later. I was initially quite apprehensive about living with a cat. It was out of my comfort zone because at that stage in my life I’d never had a pet, nor lived with one. So it was a huge learning curve for me. And not without its teething troubles. Mao Mao loved to sleep with his tummy facing upwards, and not realising cats and dogs are different, on one occasion I remembered going to stroke his tummy. The next thing I knew, I had a long and deep scratch on my arm. Afterwards Wei told me that cats do not like to have their tummy stroked, unless they are really comfortable with you. A scar to remember and a lesson learned for sure.
It didn’t take too long for Mao and I to establish a friendship though. I soon discovered that he loved the outdoors and especially enjoyed standing on the rooftop looking down on his human companions. I always told Wei that it was Mao’s way of looking after the house and guarding his home. On a good day he loved to just lie on the lawn in our backyard and chill. Even the birds didn’t bother him. They used to prance around him and he wouldn’t bat an eyelid. He was a pretty chilled, placid cat.
Nine months later along came QQ, a rescued six-month old kitten who was introduced to the household. QQ was seven years younger than Mao, and he behaved like an older protective brother taking care of his sister. It was adorable, and they became inseparable. Mao Mao and QQ would play chase every night after dinner and it was hugely entertaining to watch. They would even cuddle and clean each other before going to sleep every night. Those were the days. Even though QQ and I moved out four years later, both Mao Mao and QQ still managed to spend some time together.
It was a tradition for Mao Mao to have a birthday party every year. I had never been to a pet’s birthday party. Wei’s friends would bring along their pets too, and because Mao Mao was such a big and dominating cat, most small dogs were scared of him. He always stood in the kitchen when we were preparing for his birthday party. We used to joke that it was his way of being a good host, to make sure that everything was prepared to his liking. His birthday treat would usually consist of salmon and a bit of cheesecake. Mao Mao definitely lived a good life, bless him.
Sadly, around three years ago Mao Mao was diagnosed with diabetes. His health slowly started to deteriorate but he was such a strong cat, and he didn’t give up without a fight, even when his kidneys began to fail him. He managed to celebrate his milestone 15th birthday three years ago, surrounded by his human family and friends.
I will never forget Mao Mao. He was not only handsome, but he was extremely affectionate and sweet. They say never judge a book by its cover, and in Mao’s case that was very true. Physically he was quite imposing, but he was a gentle giant. And that is how I will remember him.
Goodbye Mao Mao. I already miss your wet nose kisses. And I will miss bringing QQ over to see you. Roam free my friend, where there won’t be any more pain. Love you always… till we meet again.