We didn’t choose Maui; he chose us. Although he belonged to the people over the road, and although I was allergic to cats and (at the time) very anti pets of any kind, Maui simply decided he was going to live with us, and that was that.
For the first year or so, I tried not to let him get comfortable in our house (although he drove me mad by insisting on sleeping on my bed), and we didn’t feed him, which meant he had to go back home for meals. But soon two things became apparent: one, he was getting very thin and had apparently decided that if he couldn’t eat with us, he’d rather not eat at all; and, two, the galloping allergy to cats I’d had since I was a child had mysteriously disappeared.
It didn’t take long for the kids to ask for a friend for Maui, and then for another (and, over the next couple of years, another and another and another). Then came the dogs and the chickens, and pretty soon we had a zoo. And it all began with Maui.
Maui didn’t have a name to start with – well, he did, but it was Hendrik and I couldn’t bring myself to call him something so oudoos-ey. It was only when I took him to the vet for the first time and, when asked, admitted that we hadn’t really named him anything (he was just ‘the cat’), that the vet suggested I think something up. Because Maui was very vocal – he said ‘maui’ constantly – that became it.
Maui was a very loyal pet – uniquely among the cats I know, he would run to the car to greet me when I came home. He was unfailingly polite: he asked to be let out, and when the door was opened for him, he always said thanks. Although he was the oldest of our cats (he was 13 when he died yesterday), he was also the most playful, and never lost his inner kitten. He loved music, and especially Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, which would send him into literal raptures. He was very sociable, and liked little more than hopping on the table at a dinner party and joining in. He was a great sunbather, and spent contented hours sitting like an old man in the front garden, sunning his tummy. He was also very attuned to human emotion, and would be visibly sympathetic and concerned if someone was upset.
I like to imagine Sara and Maui, reunited in animal heaven, having quietly companionable moments together, as they did when they lived here with us.