Max: Character, Cat, Legend

Look at that gray beast chewing on my tie –
I’d lay odds he showed up on your doorstep, and you took him in.
Richard Ashmore, All Who Are Lost



Official Portrait

One of the main men in Laura St. Bride’s life, and a major supporting character in the Ashmore’s Folly Trilogy, is not tall, dark, and handsome.

Well, not tall, unless you count 20″ as being tall.

He is gorgeous and grey.

He is Max the Cat. And here, for the first time, we pull back the curtain and reveal the truth.

The Author Confesses

This one never misses a meal, does he?
— Richard Ashmore

It’s customary for authors to sneak their family, friends, and worst enemies into their books — and, if you’re smart, you make sure that no one can ever say, “Hey, that’s me, right?” You at least change the eye color, the job, where he or she went to school. You do that because (1) it’s the kind thing to do, (2) you don’t want to get written out of the will, and (3) you have no desire to find yourself facing the wrong end of a lawsuit.

With pets, no such considerations have to enter your mind. For one thing, most pets only read the business section (to make sure that you can still afford to feed them).  For another, most pets calculate that serving you with papers will not serve them well when it comes to rousting you out of bed for an emergency midnight snack to tide them over until dawn.

So authors put their pets in books all the time. Sometimes, the pet rates a dedication (To my beloved iguana Egbert, and may you sun forever on that heavenly rock). But, as far as I know, Max is one of the rare cases where the character came before the cat.

The Legend Moves In


Excuse me, I was napping!

Max showed up on our doorstep, starving, in late August 2007. At the time, we were sharing our residence with three other cats, including a very bitchy senior female, an amiable male, and a reclusive boudoir kitty who was terrified of her own shadow. Still, we couldn’t turn him away, so I fed him and made him a little nest on our front porch away from the summer sun.

Then he disappeared. We knew that a family down the block, with two teenage girls, had expressed interest in taking him in, and we figured that’s where he had gone. Then, in early October, my husband went out to get the paper in the early morning and found that Max had returned — with his food bowl. Apparently, the girls had been told that they couldn’t keep him, so they used his food bowl to lure him down to our house.

Alpha Cat

Alpha Cat

He was sweet and lovable, and we aren’t capable of turning a starving animal away. My mother couldn’t take him, and my most cat-mad friend said that she already had too many cats. “Face it,” she said, “he’s yours. He’s given himself to you.”

So we adopted him, and he became not only the fourth feline member of the household but in record time he established himself as the ultimate alpha kitty.

So what to name him? We went through several ideas: Romeo, Angel, Cicero.  Finally, I thought of the grey longhair with the fluffy tail that my heroine had adopted, and I decided that life should imitate art.

And so Max the cat became a reality.


About Max

Max the Pretzel

Max the Pretzel

Max has several features that we had never seen in any of our cats. First, he was and is the most people-loving cat we have ever met, even coming to the door to greet us when we come home. He would let you pet him anywhere on his body, including his belly. He had broad hind paws that allow him to fly across the room from the door to the bed. He had tufts of fur growing out of his ears. He had the fluffiest tail we had ever seen (fluffy even when he was starving — it looked like a plume attached to this scrawny little thing). He certainly was the most flexible cat we had ever seen, often sleeping with his head and front half pointed east and the rest of him pointed west.

But the most distinctive feature was his fur — long, silky, and tangle-free.

Traitor cat. I feed him, and he fawns all over you.
Laura St. Bride

It was that feature that led us to identify his breed. We had another longhair at the time, our little scaredy-cat Savannah, and her fur was a nightmare. We had to get her a lion cut once to get rid of all the knots and tangles. But Max’s hair never clumped. After we searched all the cat books, we tentatively identified him as being a derivative of the Ragdoll breed called the Ragamuffin. He had all the characteristics of a Ragamuffin, even though he was certainly no pedigree.

Twister boy -- note the huge "rabbit" paws

Twister boy — note the huge “rabbit” paws

You can read more about Ragamuffins here.

Max, lounging around

Rats! The paparazzi!

Ragamuffins are typically docile, loving cats and make wonderful house pets. Certainly, Max has never shown any interest in going outside again. He is such a docile boy that we cannot figure out how he managed to survive on his own — we believe he must have been abandoned in a nearby neighborhood. He doesn’t like to fight (minor roughhousing with his feline brother, Remi, but that’s it), he never bites, and since 2007 he has only swiped at us by accident.

We are really grateful that Max the Cat came to life and showed up at our door. Ragamuffins are typically very healthy cats, so we look forward to many years to come with his silky self.