Max Learns to Share the Love

Casey Hatfield-Chiotti

Photo Courtesy of Casey Hatfield-Chiotti

When psychiatry resident Heather Myers went on an errand to buy cat litter at a Portland, Oregon pet shop in 2019, she didn't expect to find a forever companion. She locked eyes with a marmalade kitten and simply couldn't leave without him. "He was just the sweetest. I held him, and he was purring. He nuzzled into my chin and wanted to be held," recalls Heather. She had to convince the other household members—her cat, Mindy, and her boyfriend, Ben—to welcome Max into the fold.

"I thought two cats was a little too much," laughs Ben, who works in operations for Nike. Max soon snuggled his way into Ben's heart, though. Max would interrupt his work Zoom meetings, and when he and Heather would watch TV in the evening, Max would sit on Ben's lap and nuzzle into Ben's beard.

"I even got Heather a fake beard because she was jealous of the snuggles he would give me. It worked," laughs Ben. "He loves being held like a baby, and he loves his cat tree. He could lay on that all day."

Ben and Heather got married in 2020, and they welcomed a baby girl, Charlie, in January 2021. Unfortunately, from the moment they brought their bundle of joy home, Max started acting more withdrawn.

"It was so sad. It wasn't like we didn't try to include Max. We would try to bring him over to the couch to sit on Ben's lap while I held Charlie, but he would get up and run away," says Heather.

Mindy had gone through multiple moves while Heather was in med school, and she fared better with the new addition. Before Charlie was born, Heather says Max loved playing with the baby items they were accumulating. He would get in the baby's crib and play with the activity mat. When Charlie finally arrived, though, he had a difficult time coping with the new reality. "When the baby came, he was kind of like—wait, that's my stuff," says Heather. Since cats are territorial, bringing a baby into the home can cause stress. Luckily, there are things you can do when introducing a cat to a baby to make it a smoother transition.

Max began showing signs of stress. He started chewing the wood on the coffee table and anything plastic that was left out. Most concerning of all, Max seemed unhappy. He would hide out on a little green pad in the hallway. Ben and Heather became concerned, so they took Max to a veterinarian who prescribed medication to help. They didn't like how it zonked Max out and made him seem tired all the time. They started using the Comfort Zone Multi-Cat Diffuser with Opticalm Diffuser. The diffuser releases a drug-free vapor that mimics the pheromones a cat releases to indicate the area is safe and secure. (It's kind of like sending a signal in the cat's language to let him know he's safe and can relax.) Within days, they noticed he was doing better. "I remember Ben saying to me, 'Max seems like a different cat,'" says Heather. He stopped chewing and started coming out of his hiding spot in the hallway to be with the family and cuddle more often. They got the old Max back.

Because of her profession, Heather is very in tune with Max's emotional health and recognized the importance of getting help. With the aid of the Comfort Zone Multi-Cat Diffuser with Opticalm Diffuser, the family of five has found their rhythm. In their sunny apartment looking out on Portland's West Hills, Max is content to play with his laser pointer, sit atop his cat tower perch and cuddle with his attentive pet parents. He's even venturing closer to Charlie to hear her coos and giggles.

"Their relationship will grow, but I think he's come to the point of acceptance. He seems to have joy, and he's connecting with us again," says Heather.