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Young Jenna and young Max Hello, there! My name is Jenna, and I have been a passionate pet owner for the last fifteen years.

When I was four, my parents decided that it was time for me to get my first (and to this day, my only) pet. I was beyond excited! Originally, I was supposed to get a fish. You should know that this was the same year that Finding Nemo came out, which was the very first movie I saw in theatres. I was dead set on getting a Moorish Idol and naming it after my favourite character, Gill. I told all my friends and neighbours that I would be getting a fish. Looking back, I can’t believe how upset I was to find out that we were actually getting a cat, not a fish. After all, how was I supposed to live out my Finding Nemo dreams? Flash forward to today, and I am very happy with my parents’ decision to get a cat instead.

I still remember the day we brought Max, my beloved Maine Coon, home from the pet store. It was pouring rain that day, and we had to drive a good distance as the rain hammered down on our van. Our little six-week old kitten meowed the entire way home; I just wanted to reach into the carrying cage and cuddle him! He was so small that the first night we had him home, he was able to slip right through the bars of the safety cage we bought him! We had to return the cage after realizing his sneaky ways. Little did we know that our kitten’s escape was the first of many sneaky behaviours he would develop.

Max is an adventurer. In his younger years, my family would spend hours looking for him around the house. Some of his hiding spots included underneath our fridge, below the stairs, behind the washing machine—all places too big for humans! He was also quite mischievous; some of his favourite hobbies included using our new leather couches as a scratching post, using my backpack as a washroom…you get the picture. He was the alpha cat of his litter and did not like listening to us. He thought he owned the house.

Quite honestly, our family was stressed by his dominant behaviour and couldn’t take all the destruction he was causing. But we all loved him, and after a lot of TLC on our part, Max grew more comfortable with us and became the lovable fluffball that he is today. He still thinks he is king of the house, but he’s much less mischievous now.

Max's birthdayI’m currently nineteen. We just celebrated Max’s fifteenth birthday on August 8th! We’ve grown up together, just like siblings. Whenever I had a bad day at school, was feeling sick or got injured at dance, Max always knew when something was wrong and was immediately by my side to comfort me. He likes to cuddle in my lap and give me hugs—he actually climbs onto me and puts his paws around my neck! When I’m lying in bed reading, he’ll join me under the covers and fall asleep. We have been inseparable our entire lives. Sometimes he’ll make a specific expression, and in that moment my mother says he reminds her of my late grandfather, who passed just before I was born. We like to say that part of my grandfather lives in Max, which is why he is so protective over me to this day.

Going away to university last September was the hardest thing for me to do. On family vacations since I was young, every single day of the vacation I would say, “I miss Max!” and I would count down the moments until I was reunited with my best friend. Leaving Max to attend university was a struggle, and many tears were spilled on moving day. Max became very stressed while I was away, meowing much more than usual and sitting in my room as if waiting for me to come home.  Coming home for summer was such a treat for both of us!

Quite clearly, Max has always been a huge part of my life. He has taught me to appreciate animals and all living creatures on the planet. He has proven to me that animals have feelings and can understand us. My friends often describe me as “cat-like,” because I am very relaxed with sudden bursts of energy; I like to think that I get this from Max! I also learned that cats have very interesting tastes. For instance, Max enjoys avocado, cantaloupe, and oatmeal. Who would have thought?

Jenna's graduation with MaxBeing a pet owner has also opened my eyes to how much waste is generated by caring for our furry friends. Seeing as I am studying Environmental Sciences at the University of Waterloo, I try to live green in any way that I can. I write my own blog, where I post tips and tricks for living a more sustainable lifestyle in all aspects of life. I recently shared a post about eco-friendly pet care, which was inspired by my journey with Max throughout my life. I recommend checking it out for some great ideas (and to see some cute pictures of Max)!

It makes me happy that Max is still as spry and energetic as he was when he was a kitten. Sometimes I am the one who gets tired when he chases me around the house! I know that we will have many more amazing years together, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for both of us.

If you would like to read my sustainable pet care guide, you can find it on my blog at thisisjennasjourney.com and subscribe for more great content. You can also hear about my adventures with Max and my other eco-friendly pursuits on my Instagram page, @jenna_m_phillips.

On behalf of myself and Max, thank you for reading our story!

 

One Cat is Company

"One cat is company.
Two cats are a conspiracy. 
Three cats is an attempted takeover.
Four or more cats is a complete coup!"

Shona Steele (Australia)