The Max Factor: free house with purchase of 18lb black cat

photo by Phil Rose


Max doesn’t give a damn. He’s fat and rich, but that hasn’t gone to his head. His head is huge– like the rest of him– but it’s not out of any inflated sense of self. He just doesn’t give a damn.

Outdoor cats generally don’t. They’re usually quite content with their stations– free to roam and kill and fuck. Out all night every night with no demands on them whatsoever. Free as the wind. A pirate’s life!

As long as someone leaves some food out, that is. Mice and birds and snakes are delicious supplements, but it’s hard to get fat hunting. Someone to leave the dry food out is crucial. It doesn’t much matter who it is.

Max is looking toward his third sponsor. The hairless indoor uprights might hold something called a deed, but let’s be clear: even if he’s never been inside, this is Max’s house.

When Ray & Kathy moved in to the gray rambler around the corner from Whatcom Falls Park in 2012, Max was already there. Being an estate transaction, there was no seller with whom they could discuss the Max Factor, and there had been no reference to him in escrow. The couple didn’t need a cat– they already had a beautiful Ragdoll named Oliver. But there were food dishes on the patio and a wooden crate where Max sometimes slept. And as Ray & Kathy settled in to their new home it became apparent that Max had no intention of going anywhere.

Now that the house is again for sale (3 bedrooms 3 baths <1800sqft $346,800) nothing has changed. Max is what we refer to in the industry as conveyable: he comes with the house.

He wouldn’t be the first. When Cat Sieh (no relation) and Nick VanDyken first walked the ten acres they would eventually purchase on Bellingham’s historic Laurel Road, they were greeted by a proportionately massive black dog animal who they would come to know as Allie. The jolly Rot mix accepted a scratch behind the ears before showing the young couple around the property. At the end of tour she flopped, exhausted, on the front porch of the farmhouse, outside the door of her tumbledown doghouse. Adorbs! Little did the couple realize however, driving back to town rubbing their hands red with liquid hand sanitizer in an attempt to eradicate Allie’s powerful odor, that Allie would be theirs the same as the house or the shop or the well would be. Allie was also conveyable– she ran with the land.

Allie now sleeps inside on this couch
Allie now sleeps inside on this couch

When questioned casually about Allie during the buyers’ second visit, the seller of the acreage was clear that she had no intention whatsoever of taking Allie along on her cross-country relocation to Florida.

“She was here when I got here,” she said, carefully not petting the great, panting beast. “I feed her, but I don’t consider her my dog. She’s never been in the house.”

No one knows how far back Allie’s ownership of the Laurel minifarm goes. You can’t really run a title search for that type of thing. Cat & Nick had planned on getting a dog once established on the Road. And though Allie wasn’t exactly what they had in-mind, it appeared as though the couple’s options were limited as their seller packed and split.

“We’re pretty sure Allie had this planned all along,” said Sieh later. “She got a great deal.”

But Allie isn’t the only one who’s benefited.

“I look back and think how lonely this place would have been without her,” Sieh continued, gazing out over the quiet country estate.  “She helped show us the ropes in the early days.”

After a series of deep cleanings, Allie was welcomed into the house and has scarcely left the couch which has become her new domain. Whether domestication is in Max’s future is unclear. But for the time being, he is the highest priced cat on the Bellingham market. Come check him out!



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