Yesterday we lost a member of our family, Franklin. Since we've been back from vacation, something was not quite right. We thought he was just mad at us for leaving him behind. It turned out to be more than that.
What to say about Franklin? People say that cats have no personality. Our three cats have distinct personalities. They know their names, they come when called, and they're super lovable. Franklin was no different.
When I first met Daddy, Franklin ruled the roost. He was a year old, not yet fixed, and was a beast of a cat. At that time, he went by either "Little Man" or "Mister Cat". He was a big tuxedo cat, with a giant owl-like head, impenetrable eyes, and a sleek, silky, muscular body. (That's the unfixed part for you.) To be honest, I didn't like him. Or maybe I was a little bit afraid of him. I had grown up with a dog, and did not have much experience with cats, so yeah, he was intimidating. He cohabited with sisters, Inky and Josey, and Inky to him was like Penelope Pussycat was to Pepé Le Pew.
My first real dealing with Little Man (LM) came when Daddy convinced me to stick my finger between the pads of LM's toes and watch them spread out, which immediately caused an adverse reaction to LM and he promptly struck out and scratched me. This did not endear me to him at this point, and I still have the scar to prove it. I pretty much avoided him. Except that LM could not and would not be avoided. He was a strange cat---he loved the bathroom. He loved being IN the bathtub. He loved sitting on the edge of the tub, poised with those huge eyes while one used the shower. Unnerving to say the least!
Gradually, I came to accept the idea of LM as it appeared neither one of us were going anywhere. Crazily, knowing that Daddy had 3 cats of his own, I decided to jump in the mix (a non-cat person) and get my own! Fast forward through many repeat visits to Petco and all of a sudden, I was the proud owner of Winston--a sweet, docile, fuzzy, little butterscotch-colored kitten. Fast forward to when Daddy and I decided to move in together and I realized we'd be 4 cat household and how was I ever going to introduce my sweet little lovebug to the big ole mean LM?
Suffice to say, the sisters wanted nothing to do with Winston. LM, however, immediately saw Winston as his own personal playmate, became instant friends, and we soon renamed LM Franklin Delano Roosecat to complement now Winston Spencer Churchkitty. (Brush up on your history if you don't know about the friendship between Roosevelt and Churchill.)
And so a bond was formed and the two were inseparable. Often we'd walk in on them embracing and wonder if we'd interrupted a moment...they loved each other.
As much as we loved his buff, panther-like body, I knew this cat was suffering and needed to be fixed. So I took him to get it done and he soon went from the muscular trim cat to basically a sack full of lush. He chubbed out, lost his muscles and just became a ragdoll. But the most cuddly, malleable ragdoll ever. This was a cat you could hold in your arms at night like a teddy bear and he'd contentedly curve in, put his paw on your face and purr like a madman. I will miss that.
There was also the time that I saved his life after he did one of his most favorite (yet could be deadly!) things which was chew and ingest some ribbon. This cat loved ribbon. I caught him choking, and managed to unwrap it from his tongue, without getting bitten. Between that and getting him fixed, I'm pretty sure that's when we turned a corner in our relationship and grew to love each other. He knew who was the one to take care of him, and I couldn't resist his clumsy, hulking way of maneuvering himself into my personal space for some love. I will miss that.
That wasn't to say he was a lovable cat to others. We were wary when friends came over (this was in our pre-children age) because he could be known to strike out unexpectedly. He could be a bully to the girl kitties. He was always the one that had to eat first when food was put in the bowl. This made him sometimes a cat who gorged, and thus he was dubbed the thrower-upper. I won't miss that.
He was the litter-box supervisor. At almost every emptying and cleaning, there he'd sit, watching and waiting, then promptly use the fresh box I'd just cleaned. He was king of the castle. He loved plastic bags, paper bags, backpacks, suitcases. He'd climb on top, and in them, get stuck, panic and do it all over again. When we'd hear some random crinkling in another room, we always knew it was Frankie finding a bag.
He could be destructive. When he climbed up onto the bed, he made sure to snag his claws in the process, basically destroying the bed sheet. Or he'd jump up on a windowsill and snag his claws on the window screen, yowling to be let outside. He was a burrower. He'd settle deep into a blanket and you'd only know he was there if you sat on him or you could see the subtle movement beneath the blanket. He would walk openly into his cat carrier and sometimes take naps in there. He liked to be stretched. He loved to look outside and was the only cat out of the four and then when Inky died, three, that showed any interest in going outside, and was allowed very limited access, as in just steps from the front porch. Why? He loved to eat grass.
He'd sleep on my head. In the middle of winter, when a 20ish lb cat encircles your head like a heated hat, purring in your ear, it's kind of heavenly. He'd do this every night. He was also a soother. When I'd be awake in the middle of the night, unable to fall back to sleep, he'd crawl up next to me and settle in, and I'd pet him while he purred, his sound always soothed me back to sleep. Just recently, I was describing this to someone. Little did I know it would be the last time it would happen. I'll really miss that.
And then there is Gabby. Franklin hated her from the start and never missed an opportunity to let her know by either hissing or yowling at her. He's the only cat I know who could make an 80 lb Rottweiler lay down in her tracks. He'd block the hallway so she would be unable to pass. He was such a jerk to her. Classic example of Alpha-male status. She definitely won't miss that.
When it was time to get ready for your arrival, Daddy practiced his swaddling skills on Franklin. Oh Frankie...
So basically, Franklin loved alot of things...water, eating, grass, plastic bags, actually bags of all kinds, eating, cuddling, the bathtub, eating, and being close to his people. And he hated only one thing: Gabby.
I know that Franklin is in a much better place now, no longer suffering, and reunited with his true unrequited love soulmate, Inky. I'll miss your warmth and your snuggles, sweet boy. May the other side be filled with plastics bags brimming with catnip, an ever-flowing water bowl, and the best cat chow there is. Rest in peace, FDR.
Sometime in 2002 ~ 5 July 2016