There's a saying that cats have 9 lives. Maui, our Snow Bengal, truly embodied that. He'd been left at a Hawaii airport and arrived here with us 14 years ago. From that day forward, his chronic health issues were part of our caretakers' daily routine. After inflammatory bowel disease, kidney and dehydration issues, it was bone cancer that finally took little Maui from us.
Mau-Man (as we liked to call him) was not defined by his illnesses, but instead by his loving and kind heart. Maui loved people so very much. And spending time with each of us wasn't enough. Maui liked to be carried, cuddled and smothered with affection. You could always find him on a shoulder of a caretaker or wrapped in the belly of their sweatshirt. And if Maui didn't get the attention he demanded, he'd always stand on his hind legs and reach up on your lap asking to be picked up.
Maui won hearts across the world, including the caretakers from Argentina. During morning huddle, when all of us stood in a circle for our meeting, Maui climbed from shoulder to shoulder around the circle, making sure he got hugs from every single person. He had so many cat friends over the years, too. And was always ready to play and have fun with them. When the Argentina caretakers had to say goodbye to the lions they placed with us, it was hard.
But they said leaving Maui was just as bittersweet for them. Maui's affection could only be overshadowed by his strong voice. He was always at the fence or the door to scream hello. As a caretaker favorite, it was hard to say good-bye to him. He had a wonderful weekend outside in the sun, visiting with those who loved him. After that, his breath became irregular and he became very quiet. He clearly told us that it was his time.
No matter how many years they're critically ill, the end can still seem too sudden. Even the morning we had to say good-bye, Maui meowed hello, with labored breath, to each caretaker as they entered to say good-bye. We made sure Maui was held every moment as we sent him over the rainbow bridge. I am grateful for all the love Maui received and returned over the years. He never discriminated against any human - he loved us all the same. Maui, we will hold you in our hearts forever, just like we did so lovingly in our arms.
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