Ask Max Monday: If Not The Bridge, Then What?

Ask Max Monday

Why do I have to suffer when mine the mom decides to “eat healthy” and not have wheat anymore? Do you know what wheat makes? wheat makes FRENCH TOAST. Why must I suffer for her problems?

Because people are MEAN, dood. All they think about is themselves and what THEY want to eat and how it might make their intestines blow up like a party balloon and then explode forth in a stream of Oh Gross Light A Freaking Candle. If she can’t eat French Toast anymore, fine, but she should make it for you every now and then. Seriously!

On the other hand…maybe she’ll bring more real live fresh dead meaty things into the house and share them with you. SHRIMP, dood! Maybe you’ll get shrimp!

But yeah. She needs to make you some French Toast an apologize for being so selfish and thoughtless about what you enjoy.

Mr. Max, hello and thank you. My name is Rajesh, I’m an Indian Prince and I have for you 1 billion American dollars if you just send me your credit card information. Ha ha ha. No, I have a real question: I found a shiny on the coffee table and started to play with it, but the teenager freaked out and took it away from me and said that cats can’t play with chocolate kisses. Then she kissed me on the top of the head and said that kiss would have to do, but she wasn’t really sure WHY chocolate is bad for cats, just that it can make them very sick or kill them. Do you know?

Chocolate contains a chemical called Theobromine, which is toxic to cats and dogs. Also, it has caffeine, which isn’t good for us, either. Both are from a class of chemicals called “Methylxanines” and makes things in a kitty’s body go way wonky. Blood pressure can go up, urine output soars, which leads to all kinds of unhappy things, like seizures and dying.

There’s a difference in the amounts that are found in milk chocolate versus dark chocolate, which is why a dog can get away with eating a little bit of milk chocolate but not the same amount of dark chocolate (we found this out when Hank the Dog ate half a bag of those kisses.) Kitties are far less tolerant, so absolutely no chocolate is safe for them. Best rule of paw: no chocolate at all, ever, for cats and dogs.

Your teenager did a very good thing for you, just in case you got the wrapper open and licked it. Give her a head bump, and tell her I said “Good job!” But don’t kiss her for me, because that would just be…ugh…no.

Max, who’s “Vader?” I think I want to know someone who has the guts to kiss you.

Vader is a very old, mostly blind, mostly deaf, sarcastic, FAT, kitty who decided she wanted to live with some friends of the Woman even though they already had three cats and weren’t looking for another. She used to live next door to them but the person who lived there wasn’t taking care of her. The ONLY reason she can get away with kissing me is because she’s so old that I kinda feel like I have to respect what she does even if I don’t like it. It’s kinda like being kissed by someone’s Grandma…you don’t want to, but you have to let her.

And I want my billion dollars. Cash, please.

OK, Max, here’s a real serious question you can answer or not answer.

Mom and I have been talking a bunch about dying, ’cause I’ve been sick (but not dying yet) and she’s giant gloom and doom monster. . . and. . . she says there’s no such thing as the Rainbow Bridge. . . that it’s just something people made up so they wouldn’t be so sad when their animals weren’t alive anymore and she doesn’t think she can believe in it. Is she telling the truth? And if there is no Rainbow Bridge, where do we go when we die?

Dood, I believe there’s a Rainbow Bridge; I doubt it’s like an actual bridge, like the Golden Gate or the Brooklyn Bridge—or maybe it is—but deep down I know there’s something after this. Some people don’t believe in any kind of afterlife, and that’s okay; I think they’ll get to enjoy what comes next no matter what they think while they’re in the here and now. Some people believe in heaven but don’t believe in hell, and I think that’s fine, too (and on that I kinda agree with them…but that would take a long time to explain….) Some people aren’t at all sure if anything happens when we die, and that’s all right.

Look, we all know the Rainbow Bridge poem was written by a person, and for sure, it’s to help other people feel better about their favorite furballs dying. And let’s not use euphemisms here: it’s all about coping with dying. We don’t “go to sleep” or “run off.” Our lives end; we die. But the fact that someone wrote that poem and made up this wonderful, idyllic place…that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in some form or another.

The way I see it, there’s something after this life for anyone or anything with a soul. People used to not believe that cats and dogs and fish and bugs had souls, but anyone who spends any time watching animals and paying attention to how they learn, how they react, how they figure out how to use tools and manipulate others to get what they want and need has to grasp that we all have souls. And souls? Dood, they all get to move on, whether it’s to a bridge or a cloud or some fluid place that turns into what that soul needs. I think we get our special place to wait for our people as a reward for having been there for them, for having been someone for them to love and care for, and for loving them back. Because you know as well as I do, we love our people even when we’re complaining about them.

But let’s suppose your person is right; there is no Rainbow Bridge. We die and then we’re just gone. Know what? We do that several times a day. We curl up and go to sleep, and we slip into that place that exists between our dreams, where nothingness is real, and we hang there. It doesn’t bother us then. We were in that nothingness before we were born and we were fine with it. And as much as cats love their naps…well, I can’t imagine it would be any worse than that.

Still, I think there’s something after this for us. It’s not because some clever person decided to write a cute poem to make other people feel better; it’s because deep down, I can feel it. And if people get a heaven, then we get something, too. It’s not just that we have souls; we are souls.

Does that make me right and your mom wrong? Absolutely not. Dood, people believe what they believe based on the things they were taught when they were sticky people, and what they believe changes in flux as they grow up and grow older. Sometimes it’s because of their religion; sometimes it’s because of the things they see and hear. Sometimes it’s just their gut telling them something. My gut says we get another roll of the giant dice, because to me nothing else makes sense. Maybe your mom’s gut doesn’t.

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think people making things up to make themselves feel better about dying—whether it’s for them or for us—is a bad thing. It helps them cope. If we don’t go to the Bridge, we go somewhere…maybe it’s a custom created place where we get everything and anything we want, maybe it’s a cloud hopping heaven, or maybe it’s like deep sleep that perfect slice of nothing that exists between our dreams. But what comes next, whatever it might be, will be all right.

18 thoughts on “Ask Max Monday: If Not The Bridge, Then What?

  1. Deer Max,

    Your column on the Rainbow Bridge is timely. Bean went to the Bridge last night. She was 16 and suffering with kidney failure. Mom carries the belief that she will see all her cat loves again. She can’t not. They are all so important to her. She has been bawling and her eyes are swollen shut. She kissed and kissed Bean, and promised that we shall all see each other again.
    I am missing Bean, and will always miss her. She is a sweet kitty- Little Bean Cat. We love you always!
    Loki and Mom

    1. Oh Loki and mom….we are very sorry. We believe here there is a Rainbow Bridge and the cat that came before us are there – along with those foster kittens that came through here but didn’t make it to find families of there own. We are sending you both gentle purrs right now…..

  2. Max quick question this cat from next door conned my mom with her uber cuteness and muscled in on my home plus she’s dating my brother ewwwww! What can I do cant bump her off since shes git nine lives 🙂
    Ps: mom does stand up for my and my subtype Celia gives her the paw of correction now and then 🙂 🙂
    Yours singly. (Hint hint)
    Miki aka bird

    1. Max quick question this cat from next door conned my mom with her uber cuteness and muscled in on my home plus she’s dating my brother ewwwww! What can I do cant bump her off since shes git nine lives 🙂
      Ps: mom does stand up for my and my aunty Celia gives her the paw of correction now and then 🙂 🙂
      Yours singly. (Hint hint)
      Miki aka bird

  3. Dear Max, my 15th birthday is coming up. This means me will officially bes an OLD lady cat. Does this means me should quit gallivanting around and not pawties all the time? And can mes still has a big birthday pawty or is all that behind mes?
    PS mes is sure there is a afterlife or reincarnation.

  4. Dear Max, I want to ask you a very purrsonal question and it is okay if you don’t want to answer it because it is purrsonal and all. See, I whine and cry and thrash when mommie tries to trim my claws because I just know she’ll slip and cut the whole end of my toes off! I suspect that is what happened to you. However, my mom says that’s not true, that you lost your claws gambling. Max is that true?!

  5. We are sort of rainbow bridge atheists here. My human says there is no guarantee that anything happens after we are gone, so we need to appreciate things now. This does make her kind of sad, because she really does not think she will ever see the cat before me ever again. She deals with it by not thinking about it all very often.

    1. Appreciating things now is a good way to go through life no matter what comes next. I would like to appreciate some ham and cheddar cheese today, even though I’m pretty sure I have a never ending buffet to look forward to at the Bridge. Now is the best moment to be in, and it’s even better with ham and cheddar cheese.

  6. I, too, have wondered about whether the Rainbow Bridge exists or not. I hope and pray it does. I have noticed how smart, aware, and loving my own cats and dogs, past and present, have been. I am willing to accept that those people that have horses, goats, pigs, etc., have observed the very same traits in their pets. How can anyone not believe these wonderful living companions have a spirit, a soul?

    Some religious friends have said that it states in the Bible, (Christian), that the animals have no soul. I ask them to show me this verse in the Bible. They can not tell the book, chapter, and verse of the specific passage.

    1. As a Christian and a crazy cat lady 🙂 pets do have souls and the Bible speak of of the care God has torr each of his animals and I know frelty of animals is not supported after all Jesus is called the Good Shepherd 🙂

    2. Don’t let someone try to throw a bucket of ice water on your belief or your grief! God doesn’t make junk and animals are living breathing created works of God. He isn’t about to take these beloved creatures that praise Him with their love they give and not give them an afterlife of joy! Even St. Francis of Assisi said that all creatures should praise God. If they are capable of praise then they are capable of being in heaven! Max is right on with his thinks!

    3. No is trying to throw water on anyone’s beliefs; what was asked was a legitimate question, something a lot of people and kitties struggle with. Not everyone believes in God; not everyone believes in an afterlife, and I respect that.

      I don’t want to turn this into a religious debate and I think it best that religion, as much as possible, not be the cornerstone of this discussion, but I do ask that the beliefs of those who ask me question be treated with the same respect I would hope to get for mine.

      Everyone’s thinks on this is right.

    4. I can’t find a passage that mentions whether animals have souls or not; I don’t think it’s in there. I think the whole idea of animals not having souls is a throwback to people trying to make themselves feel better about eating other living things and doesn’t have anything to do with religion. And I get that; who wants to wrestle with the idea that the steak they just ate came from someone with feelings and a personality? *I* don’t feel guilty because it’s the whole circle of life thing, but I really think the roots of the idea that animals don’t have souls started with human guilt.

  7. Gee, we wonder who could have asked the first question? Haha! As if we don’t know the French Toast dood. 🙂 But we’re sorry it’s totally off the breakfast menu now. He really does love it.

    A very interesting and caring final response, Max. You’ve just been outed as a cat with ‘tude and a heart.

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