In Memory of Franklin
I obtained Frank via an ad in the paper. Some rural folks had a huge litter of identical tabby kittens. My mom came with me to pick one out. I wanted a male, because at that time in my life I didn't have a lot of cash and neuters are cheaper than spays. The kittens were running around everywhere so my mom and I just started catching them at random. I kept the first male we caught, which turned out to be Frank. I recall that they charged me something like $10.00 for him, just to ensure that I wasn't going to do something nefarious with him, I suppose.
Frank was always a social, outgoing kitty. He was such a naughty kitten. Somewhere I have a photo of him standing on his two hind legs, stretched waaaaay up in order to chew on an electrical cord that was plugged into the wall. He was also an alpha cat. At that time my Persian mix, Bobby Shafto was still alive (he later died of diabetes-related complications) and Frank would beat Bobby up about once a year.
Not long after bringing Frank home, I was diagnosed with allergies and asthma. Frank, unfortunately, was a cat who required a lot of interaction. He always wanted to make out. I tried to tell him that making out with him caused my eyes to bleed, but he didn't care. I did my best to give him a little head butt when I walked by (his favorite thing) or give him a scritch-scratch on his spine. In 2000 I got heavily involved in Boxer Rescue and started fostering dogs. Frank was never afraid of the dogs - in fact, he smacked most of them across the nose (my cats have their full set of claws). However, I do think the presence of the dogs caused him extra stress and I have a lot of guilt about that. Sure, you could say that I've saved some dogs, but I never meant to trade my kitty's life for theirs.
Over the past 2-3 years, Frank's health started to decline. He began plucking out his fur and eating it. His belly and legs were usually bald. I gave him tube after tube of Petramalt. He vomited constantly. I had him at the vet regularly and we tried various remedies. He was on Bach's Flower Essences for quite a while, but they didn't help.
Finally, Frank's weight slipped under 5 pounds and he wasn't keeping anything down (in his prime he weighed 11-12 pounds). I decided to let him go. I took him to the clinic by myself. He was his usual sweet self throughout, even while the vet tech was putting a catheter in Frank's foreleg. Frank died quickly, with me holding him in my shaky hands. After Dr. S left, I stayed with Frank's body for a little while, petting his fur-covered bones. I told him that when he comes back to me, I will put his ashes next to Bobby's, even though he never liked Bobby very much.
When people ask me what Frank was dying of, I'm not completely sure. I think he wrecked his digestive system from chewing his hair. At the time of his death he was pooping blood and vomiting everything he ate. Frank was always a high-strung cat and I wonder if his nerves just got the better of him. Cats his age usually sleep most of the day. I never saw Frank sleeping - never. I gave him a safe haven where the dogs couldn't come anywhere near him, but maybe he just couldn't relax. I fed him the best food money can buy, but it didn't help. I can't help but think I could've done more for him.
Now I'm left with just one cat, Ella Fitzkitty. She and Frank were never friends so my guess is that she won't miss him much. Ella was found on a golf course when she was a kitten and has always been as close to feral as a housecat can get. She doesn't want me touching her and hisses at me when I trim her nails. She does love to rub against our legs, though. P always says that Ella's like a stripper - she can touch us but we can't touch her.
As for me, I am wise enough not to bring home another kitten, although I find it difficult to resist the temptation. I was raised with cats. My mom currently has four. If you're ever watching Animal Cops on Animal Planet and you see them raiding a house in suburban Washington DC that is full of cats - it's probably my mom's house. I told her that if she gets one more, she is officially a Crazy Cat Lady. I do love cats and it sucks that I'm so allergic to them. I feel like I've betrayed them by turning into so much of a dog person, too.
Frank, I loved you so much and I hope you know that. You were a good kitty.