The first time I saw Furious Maud, I was casually browsing Reddit in search of cats that the fans might fancy a gander at. There are a lot of light hearted subreddits dedicated to cats and I rather enjoy browsing.
All of a sudden a photo of a cute cat pops up, looking particularly pissed off fresh out of their "cone of shame." It's worth noting that people re-upload pictures that aren't theirs for the juicy karma, but it can be hard to tell. All I knew was this cat's naturally angry face was a bit on the hysterical side and our fans would love her.
Upon sharing the photo on Instagram, a few fans chimed in to let us know, "I think this is Furious Maud," and indeed when I looked at her Instagram, there was no mistaking the grumpy feline face. I followed the account and updated credits, unprepared for just how fantastic Furious Maud would turn out to be.
34-year old Holly Brockwell lives in Clapham, South London and she is no stranger to animal rescue. The freelance technology journalist has a reputation for taking in special needs rescue animals, and Maud was special.
It was the moment we learned that Maud was battling cancer that we knew we absolutely had to reach out to Holly, who runs Maud's Instagram account, because this beautiful, unique cat definitely had a story to tell.
Holly told us:
Maud is such a special cat, I've never known another kitty like her. I call her Furious Maud because she has a real case of "resting bitch face" – she often looks extremely pissed off even when she's purring!
And Maud has been through a lot, but most of it... is a mystery, Brockwell explained:
Maud has been passed around a lot, which is sad because she's a wonderful cat and I could never imagine life without her now. As far as I know, she's had at least five homes, but those are just the ones we know about. I don't know much about her history at all.
I asked Holly about what she did know about Maud and she told us how their journey together began:
I rescue animals when I can, so people know to send me a needy animal when they see one. Maud was advertised on several websites by some people who said they were moving house and needed her to be gone by the weekend. This was on a Friday, and I've heard of a lot of people just leaving a cat behind when they move, and I desperately didn't want that to happen.
She looked so sad in the photos, something about her orange eyes just spoke to me and I knew I needed to help her. Quite a few people sent me the advert asking if I could help, although I'd already seen it myself from my frequent checks for animals in need and was already making a plan for how I could help her.
I went to pick her up the same day. Their house wasn't packed up at all so I'm not convinced they were really moving, I think they just wanted her gone.
Here are a couple of photos from the day Maud came to live with Holly.
She was in a real state, I could see that as soon as I got there – I don't think she'd seen a vet in years, if at all.
Her fur was all matted and her teeth were in a terrible state.
She wasn't called Maud then – she had a stripper name which didn't suit her at all. So then she became Maud, and before long, Furious Maud because of that grumpy face!
Holly quickly learned a lot about Maud though, despite the gaps of information and the blatant misinformation she came with:
The people who were rehoming her told me a few things about her, but most of them turned out to be untrue. They said she was 12, then changed it to 7, but my vet says 15 (Maud was not happy to be called "geriatric"!!!).
They said she was microchipped, but she wasn't (she is now). And they entirely failed to mention that she had serious stomach problems – which I suspect is why she'd been rehomed so many times.
That was just a piece if the puzzle.
It took a long time to find a food she could eat without throwing up everywhere, so for the first few weeks I had puddles of sick and poo every few hours! I didn't mind at all, it's not her fault.
Eventually, after a lot of trial and error, I found a dry and a wet food that works for her, and some daily medication that helps. Her old owners said she "couldn't eat dry food" but it was just a case of getting a pricey prescription one, she's been fine since she had that. She's a special little lady with special needs.
She hardly ever throws up now, unless I've given her a treat and she's eaten it too fast (she gets very excited about food). I also had a litter robot for her originally, but she's too old to get up the steps now, so she has an old-school litter tray on the floor that I scoop every few hours (she's very picky). Luckily I work from home so I can keep it clean to her standards!
Under the love and care of Holly, Maud has blossomed. I asked about her purrsonality beyond her facial expressions:
Maud is HILARIOUS. I've never known such a furry ball of rage. She pulls these faces like you're telling her the most boring anecdote she's ever heard and she wishes you'd just burst into flames. Her eyes look like the Eye of Sauron in Lord of the Rings – blazing orange and withering!
She waddles around bossing about the rest of the household. When she wants something, she comes and makes angry noises at me until I figure out what she's after (usually cat milk), and if the other cats come near her they get MEGA hissed at. They're both terrified of her.
Clearly, though, Maud has found her true home with Holly.
She occupies my whole bed and I often have to wind myself around her because she's spread right out. Nothing makes me happier than seeing her contented, so I don't mind at all.
Sometimes true love means laughing at stuff instead of crying:
It's probably for the best that I have quite an immature sense of humour, because we've had a lot of toilet-related incidents. I think my favourite was when she got into my bed at about 3am, barged me off my own pillow, sat herself down on it and maintained full eye contact while she noisily sharted on it. It was HILARIOUS.
If you didn't previously believe in fate, the more you learn about Holly and Maud, the more you might change your mind. I say this because it takes more than a cute face to love a cat through some of Maud's poo-related shenanigans, but its increasingly inspiring how dedicated Holly is to Maud. In my eyes, their relationship was truly meant to be.
Also one time she had a new medication that didn't agree with her, and that weekend I had to close her in my en suite bathroom because she was a literal poonami – like Nyan cat but brown instead of rainbow. She pretty much repainted the walls. It was probably her way of saying she hates my decor.
Also one time she ate my flu tablet in the microsecond it was on my plate, which cost me £1000 at the emergency vets. This one was particularly funny because she won't have her daily medication without a fight, but human tablets?! Bring it on, apparently!
She's very feisty. She'll come up to me soliciting head pets, but if I do it for too long or in the wrong way, she whacks me across the face without a moment's hesitation. The other two cats are terrified of her, even though they're both more than twice her size! I have a huge floofy tabby called Moose who literally will not go in the same room as her.
I call her the "food ghost" because she only appears at feeding time. If I'm ten minutes late with her 7pm feeding, there she is, making angry mews and waddling about. If I have takeout, she's there as soon as she smells it, trying to steal the best bits.
At Christmas my housemate gave her roast lamb and she was actually giddy with delight, bless her.
For all her purrsonality, does Maud enjoy toys? Nah:
Maud doesn't do toys. I've never been able to get her even remotely interested. Laser pointers, feathers on strings, I've tried it all. We even have two pet birds in the house and she couldn't care less when they fly around the room.
She does like her big cardboard lounger, where she sleeps half the day. The other half is in my bed with the electric blanket on.
I've only had Maud since April, so not even a year yet, but she has absolutely changed my life.
Keeping her fed, well and happy is a full-time job and I think it's my dream vocation. Nothing makes me happier than when she's all tucked up in my bed, warm and sleepy, purring away (she purrs ALL THE TIME, but don't tell her I told you).
She has to go to the vets a lot because of all her issues, and also because only a few months after I got her, when I was hoping most of her problems were sorted and she could start to have the quiet, happy life she deserved, the vets found cancer.
She has aggressive, high-grade rectal lymphoma – in other words, bottom cancer. I was absolutely devastated, I cried and cried and cried and cried.
All I wanted for her was to have the safe, happy life she'd never had, and now it seemed like I was going to lose her imminently – they said without treatment, she had about six weeks to live.
The first appointment was very, very hard: I was told basically that the options were to put her to sleep now, or try a full, intensive course of treatment and hope for the best. They said the cats who respond best to chemotherapy get a maximum of 18 extra months, so it was still bad news even if it went perfectly.
There was no doubt in my mind, I had to try. I fully believe you can tell when a cat is ready to say goodbye, and although some trolls sent me horrible messages (I post about her a lot on social media, and people thought I was being selfish putting her through treatment for my own sake) telling me to put her down, I knew she wasn't ready to go. She has so much fury left to share with the world!
Luckily, a lot of people rallied round to help me get the treatment, which has cost about £10,000 so far and continues to rack up about £1000 of bills every month. There's no way I could afford it on my own, and she wouldn't be here if not for all the people who helped her. They literally saved her life, and I couldn't be more grateful. I see it as my job to give them lots of Furious Maud content to cheer them up in their daily lives as a result.
It may be hard to comprehend sometimes how a social media account can impact lives but the truth is that Maud is touching lives. It's harder not to feel a connection to Holly and Maud's relationship and journey the more you know about it.
One of her fans recently wrote to me to tell me that their mother's last words had been about Maud, because seeing her angry face on her timeline every day kept her going. That was amazing to hear. She is a truly life-changing cat.
Maud is responding incredibly well to chemotherapy, she's in remission and now only has to have treatment every 3 weeks instead of every week. I'll keep the cancer at bay as long as I possibly can so she's got time to eat every treat in the world, as she deserves.
It's a rollercoaster of a ride, loving a special needs pet. Holly is obviously all-in, in every sense of the meaning
I had a little party for Maud in November to mark 'Maud Day,' as I called it. Cats with her type of cancer have a typical survival time of 4-8 weeks without treatment, and Maud Day was 8 weeks after diagnosis, meaning she'd likely have passed already without all the treatment she's had to save her life.
I got balloons, banners, party plates, a load of fancypants tuna, cat wine (yes really!), cat milk and treats, and we had a little event to celebrate her.
She had a great time and ate all the food quite happily. I'm not sure she understands why she's getting so many treats lately but she certainly doesn't mind, her face shows she knows she's a queen.
Maud is a special cat, share her story!
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