She came into our lives through some friends in our church. 

MaxiShe was small but a beautiful calico with huge green eyes.  Living in the wild for the first year of her life, it was obvious she was not tame. The evidence of survival was her tone and lifeline.  That would not change for some time.

The family that found her also took in her sister.  Along with 3 dogs, keeping both stray cats was not something they could manage. They would keep one cat, and well, take the other to the "grim reaper."

My daughter and I love cats so we rescued her from a horrible fate and brought her home.

The teenage son of the family who found her for some reason named her after Maximus Decimus Meridius, Russell Crowe's character in the movie Gladiator.  In the beginning we could not see any connection or similarity between her and the character.

As time passed we noticed her hunting skills to be much like Maximus along with her fierce capability to stand up for herself. She also exhibited some very strong vocal chords that eventually would lead to her getting just about whatever she wanted.  Maybe she really did turn out to be Russell Crowe's shadow.  So Maxi became part of our family.

MaxiMaxi was not content to stay in the house.  Her prior existence showed up daily in her behaviour and desire to be outdoors.  It was her nature, her love to feel free lying in the sun, or hunting at dawn for the food she no longer had to catch.  She knew no other life but to fend for herself and at times this broke my heart.

How I wish we spoke the same language.

As difficult as it was to allow her out in the midst of danger, it was harder to watch her suffer indoors.  I believe Maxi has her own "Guardian Angel" who watches over her and protects her.

Maxi has moved with us 4 times in the short 7 years she has lived with us.  The third house we lived in the mountains we put a cat door in so she could come and go as she wanted.  Finally after a few weeks, she got the hang of it and seemed quite pleased with her independence.

We had no idea what we were in for that summer as she proceeded to show us her gratitude daily.  Somehow she managed to bring in the house, mice, shrews, rats, bunnies, birds, snakes and even a live bat.  We lost count of the gifts as they ran through the house, or hid under furniture.

Maxi was disillusioned by our disposing of her hunt.  She couldn't understand after all her effort day after day, carrying these creatures in her mouth through the cat door, why we didn't enjoy these treats as much as she did.  Once we had to move again, we found mice behind some of the furniture that she had chased all over the house and left for dead.

She has calmed down as far as the gifts go, although every once in a while she appears at the back door with a shrew hanging out of her mouth.

Funny as it always is, she is just being a cat as my husband says.

We live in a much warmer climate now and have a swing in the backyard made out of hammock rope.  She naps in it and loves for me to swing her!  Just like a child she rocks back and forth and even allows me to sit beside her when she is in the mood.  It is a sight to behold.

Maxi is a work in progress, but she has come a long way.  Often her days of lonely survival rise up and she becomes that wild kitten found in the mountains again.  She has become a lap cat and sleeps next to me almost every night.

She is my constant companion, makes me laugh and is a great conversationalist!


  -- Cathy Craig Neil <cathyneil at>


Cathy has always dreamed of becoming a writer. Life and its difficulties postponed that dream until now. “The Cat from Gladiator” is a glimmer of love for our cat, but also for the many strays who have not been as fortunate as Maxi to find a safe and secure home. Cathy and her husband, Mark live in South Carolina.  They have 3 grown children between them.



A Morning Kiss

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long white whiskers tickled, I began every day laughing.

Janet F Faure

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