Mossimo came into my life in October of 1996. A month or so earlier, my best friend Deena’s* brother had died suddenly, leaving behind his longhair black cat, Mossimo. One day Deena called me to talk about the cat. Mossimo was living with her brother’s friend but Deena was not at all thrilled about the arrangement. “He lets the cat outside all the time and doesn’t seem to really want to take care of him,” she said. While Mr. Ex-Moxie and I already had a cat and a cockatiel, I was open to having another cat. “I’ll take him, just let me know when you want to meet,” I told her. About a week later Mr. Ex-Moxie and I drove out to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to meet Deena and Mossimo. He was nervous and shedding like crazy, but still a beautiful cat with big green eyes. She handed me the cat and we took him home.
Within about 2-3 weeks, Mossimo was sick. His coat was dull and his body was listless. When I stayed home sick one day, Mossimo laid on my lap for hours while I watched TV. I knew things were pretty bad when I saw him sitting by the food and water, not even attempting to eat or drink. Mr. Ex-Moxie was not at home, so I called Momcat. “Mom, something’s wrong with Mossimo, he’s not eating,” I said. “Can you come over?” She got to the apartment, looked at him, and said, “We better take him to the vet.” It was late in the evening and my vet didn’t keep emergency hours, so we drove to an emergency clinic 30 minutes away. The staff took Mossimo from me and came back to say that his chest was filled with fluid and he was very sick. They were going to do what they could for Mossimo until the morning, and then I would have to take him to my regular vet. When Momcat heard the bill amount of $800, she nearly fell over. I was too much in shock to do anything but nod and pay the bill. It would turn out to be the cheapest vet visit for Mossimo over the next month.
The next morning I returned to the clinic, picked up Mossimo, and took him to my vet. He looked Mossimo over and diagnosed him with a pyrothorax infection. “Any idea how he could have gotten this?” the vet asked. “Normally we only see this in cats that got into a fight with another cat and got scratched up, or one that was outside and got a thorn in its chest.” I had no idea, since I’d just gotten Mossimo only a couple weeks earlier. The vet said that Mossimo needed urgent care, as his lungs were filled with fluid and he’d become jaundiced as well. He gave us a referral to the Barn
, a local VCA hospital that could give the cat round-the-clock treatment. The treatment would not come cheap, however. He said we needed to consider the possibility that Mossimo would not make it.
At the time, Mr. Ex-Moxie and I were in the process of buying our first home. Those expenses plus a sick little kitty were not really part of our master plan. But we’d fallen in love with this 4-year-old ball of black fluff and we wanted to do what we could for him. Deena’s parents gave us some money to help cover the expenses, but told me that they thought we should put Mossimo to sleep. They were grieving over the loss of their child, so I don’t begrudge them their aloofness about their son’s cat. It was probably too painful of a reminder.
Over the next month or so, Mossimo lived at the Barn and got the best veterinary care. He’d gotten a Mohawk in order to accommodate the drainage tubes on either side of his chest. We were able to go and see Mossimo during visiting hours, just like at a regular hospital. And we frequently spoke with the doctor treating him, a wonderful woman with a lovely South African accent and a tendency to call Mossimo “Loverboy” and other cute nicknames. We watched as our credit card debt grew and gave Mossimo a nickname of our own: Max, in honor of what he was doing to our credit limits.
Finally the vet had great news for us: Mossimo was ready to come home. “I knew he was doing great when I carried him down the hallway and he swatted a dog in passing,” she proudly announced. We were thrilled to get Mossimo back home. He healed nicely and his fur grew back within 6 months or so, a lustrous black coat that shed all over our new home. After a while Mossimo was able to jump into our arms on command, a neat little trick that Deena’s brother had taught him years earlier.
Fast forward to May 2001, when I went back to Maryland to collect Mossimo and my other cat, Angel
(who now lives in Orange County with a Latino family). I was flying both cats back to California, and I could only have one cat with me in the cabin. Factoring in age and weight, the cat riding in coach was going to be Mossimo, now 9 years old. As we approached security at the airport, I realized I couldn’t keep Mossimo in the carrier while it was being scanned. “Um, I have a cat in here,” I told the guard. “You’ll have to take him out and carry him through,” she said. Having visions of a black furball racing through the terminal, I was nervous about getting him out of the carrier. But Mossimo was too terrified to fight and clung to my chest as I walked us through security. He stuck it out in the soft-sided carrier, shifting his body based on the pitch of the plane. We changed planes in Dallas and again, Mossimo was a trouper, letting me pet and talk softly to him while we waited for our flight. We got to California and headed to the cargo area to pick up Angel, who looked unfazed by the journey.
It’s been 6 years now since we got to Long Beach, and those years have been made much sweeter with Mossimo in my life. He is a fantastic lap cat and will cuddle up at any time, nuzzling necks, armpits, heads, and anything else within nuzzling range. He has turned two former cat-loathers into cat-appreciaters with his noncatlike antics and attitude. Mossimo has earned the title “pimptastic” based on his ability to get pretty much anyone to hold, pet, or snuggle him. His pimping usually involves the soft touch of a paw, a lingering wide-eyed look, and a gentle meow.
It’s quite possible Puss In Boots from Shrek
(at right) was based on Mossimo’s skills, for Moss has mastered the “Can’t-you-see-I’m-just-a-poor-little-kitty” look that Puss in Boots used to great effect in the movie. This look has netted Mossimo many, many benefits. If he carried a wallet, I’m sure it would constantly be full of cash. Within 5 months he has completely charmed Joe, getting everything from food to cigarettes (well, more like outdoor smoke breaks) from him.
Anyone that has ever had a cat in their life know that they do not own the cat, the cat owns them. This is definitely true of Mossimo, for everywhere he goes, people just fall all over themselves adoring him. And even if I’m pissed at him for attacking my feet, trying to trip me in the kitchen, or clawing my leg in an attempt to get some cheese, I am Mossimo’s biggest fan by far. Happy 15th birthday, Moss, you furry little pimp. Your gift is on its way.
*Not her real name.