Monday, November 10, 2008

For Frank

I'll start off by saying that I feel like a bit of a hypocrite, writing what might turn out to be a long post about my dear, sweet cat Frank, who died today. I can't promise that I would have read anyone else's tribute to their dead cat, and even if I did, I probably would have thought at some point, It's just a cat. Or at least, I would have thought that before going through this awfully painful loss. As friends have generously pointed out today, Frank was more than just a cat. He was a real member of our family, a loyal friend. Frank was named after my paternal grandfather, and he was a gentle, special creature. In order to deal with my grief, I am posting this in honor of him.

Six years ago, I had gone to the pound thinking I would pick an orange kitty, in honor of my college roommate's adorable Marvin, whom I had coveted. There was a whole cage of little orange balls of fur. But grey and white Frank had more personality than all of the cats in the other cage. He was playful and spirited. The pound had a waiting period of 48 hours. When I got home, as an afterthought, I called to ask if the other cat in his cage was available because the two seemed to have bonded, and they could keep each other company. Thank goodness for that decision. Anyway, on the trip home two days later, they cried and cried. They never learned to like car rides. I tried singing to them, speaking French, explaining to them what was going on, that they would have a new home. It was such a relief to finally drive up and release them into the one room I had selected to expose them to first. Their eyes were less wide by the end of the day, and they soon claimed the house for their own.

They were so much fun as kittens. I loved watching them go down the stairs for the first time, like out-of-control snowboarders. Curious, willing to chase anything, and so snuggly. Once I freaked out badly when I couldn't find either of them. I was sure they had gotten out somehow. Finally, finally I found them snuggled together in the small space behind the washing machine.

When the boyfriend that I had been living with when I/we adopted the cats broke up, it was horrible. Any sadness I felt about the break-up seemed to be dwarfed by the agony I felt over deciding the future for the cats. We both loved them so much. We knew we couldn't split them up. I got them in the end, because I had taken the initiative in the beginning. I was sad to take them away from him, but I did not want to part with them, and I knew I would do my best to make them happy.

In Pasadena, the cats and I shared a one-bedroom apartment. My dad helped me shop for a cat tree in Marin when I was up there, since they wouldn't have stairs anymore to exercise on. He drove it all the way down to Pasadena. My parents also helped me outfit the patio with chicken wire and a net roof so that the cats could go outside. It took hours, but they knew how much the cats' comfort meant to me. Pasadena was often lonely, but those cats always kept me warm.

Once I started dating my future husband, I would pack them up for weekends in Orange County. They hated the car ride, but liked running down his hallway, sliding into the wall at the end, and exploring his place. We eventually concocted a special add-on to attach to the gate in front of the courtyard so the cats could enjoy the nice little landscaped space and lay in the sun. The HOA nearly put a lien on the house because some neighbor complained that our addition was against code, but it didn't come to anything, at least not before we moved.

The new house had stairs, which the cats loved. They would chase each other up and down, and pick a stair and relax there. The upstairs office is super-sunny, to their delight. Frank liked to walk along the banister, which had a long drop on the other side that always made me so nervous, but as far as I know, he never fell. He also loved hiding and playing in cardboard boxes and paper bags. The cats liked to team up against whoever was on the other side of the bathroom door. They would swipe their paws under the door, and jab them, curling up, toward the hand that taunted them from behind the door.

Carter had gotten old enough to torment them. He loved to chase them and pull their tails. Frank was always tolerant of Carter's pulling and yanking; it seemed like he knew that hurting the kid was out of the question. I trusted him, and he did not let me down.

Frank and Van fought; sometimes, the fur literally flew. But mostly, they loved each other. They often mirrored each other's position.

They snuggled into each other, falling asleep with blissful looks on their faces. They would clean the hard-to-reach spots for one another, like inside of their ears, and between their eyes. When they were hungry, sometimes they would get snippy, and even box each other, with one bopping the other on the nose with a left paw when they were both resting back on their hind legs. After dinner though, it would always be back to a yin-and-yang pose of cuddle and brotherly love.

Frank was only six. I was so looking forward to bringing him home today, especially to showing a sad Van that there was nothing to worry about, his brother was OK. But he developed pneumonia after the operation and was put to sleep this morning, as I pet him and tried my best to comfort him. I am so sad, for me, for Van, and for my whole family. We miss you, sweet Frank, and we will not forget you. May you rest in peace.

1 comment:

Carol Brandt said...

Hi Nicki - it's Carol Brandt writing. Your dad sent me a link to your Blog. I loved the story about Frank-the-cat, the photos of both your kitties, etc. They are very special creatures, aren't they? I am still sad from losing our two kitties, Gwen (died 2006 at age 18) and Blue (died 1996 at age 13) and my parent's crazed Siamese, Mr. Sammie (died 1996, age 20). I was just about to write a post on my blog about cats, too because I have some great photos so you inspired me to get going on that post. I always seem to end up writing about the doggies so now it is the kitties turn to be on stage! Anyway keep writing. I will put your Blog as one of my favorites on my Blog site.

Here is a link to mine: