This is a yarn involving a well-loved actor and a daring stuntman. The actor is Max, a kitten who grew up on the streets and ended up at SPCA. Not shy about coming forward, he immediately stood out from the other cat candidates and was selected by a boy named Mitch.
Max became known because he was always the go-to for film crews wanting to film a cute kitty. But all was not what it seemed with Max. Unlike Sinatra he didn’t just have links to the local mafia - he was the Godfather. Max demanded a cut in every cat bowl in the neighbourhood and he quickly dispatched any bullying dogs with a slap to the face and a cuff around the ear.
His reputation was legendary. Once, an irate neighbour paid the boy a visit after Max had busted down their cat-flap, pushed away the two boxes meant to stop him coming in, walked into their little girl's room at night who woke up screaming and panicked the whole household. All he wanted was a cuddle.
But this is a tale of two tails. The other was a stuntman named Spider Pig, Heineken. Formerly an international star with an Olympic appearance for the Australians, he also had a chequered background, with his former rider breaking her neck on him at a jump. Eventually, he ended up with a boy named Ben, where he found his feet showjumping. The fences got higher and higher until they were over Ben and Spider’s head, but he jumped, ending up winning many shows before retiring.
Skip forward years and the Canterbury floods descended in 2021. Caught on one side, in Fairlie, was Ben with Spider and phones down. On the other side, in Wanaka, was Max and Mitch. Both cat and horse had lived a tremendous age to 23 years but their gutsy hearts gave out and they were both laid to rest 200 miles apart. During those days, so severe was the flood that Ben (Benjamin Lott) and the boy’s mum (Sue Worthington) never talked for a few days.
It was only later that we found out that Max and Spider had in fact been laid to rest at the exact same time. 4.45 pm, 1st June 2021. Rest in peace, fabulous animals.