Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Frances and Good Bye

Frances with our farm in the background. 

Our 18 year old brown tabby Frances made her transition today.  She and her brother Columbus have traveled many miles with me.  They came to us as "barn cats" when we had our farm.  They were not allowed in the house as my ex husband was very allergic to cats.  Frances was the prettiest kitten I have ever had.  She would be an indicator and a messenger for me and my kids.

As the marriage was ending, and I was becoming more and more desperate for safety in my own home.  I used to use Frances and Columbus as "Cat Irons" holding them upside down by their legs and ironing my very allergic husband's pants and shirts with their dander.  The beast would put on his clean golf shirt and start to sneeze.  "There must be cat somewhere!" He would exclaim, and storm out of the house.   I would smile the smile of the just when he left.  Eventually, he would be asked to leave with a court order, and Frances, Columbus, and others were allowed in the house.  It  was a joyous day to have kitties sleeping on our beds again.
Frances in better days on the deck of my studio.
Frances was about 6 months old when she met a large stray black male.  They took one look at each other and walked into our field together.  She returned in 3 days...and I knew.  She hadn't been spayed yet, and now it was too late.  Frances spent most of her pregnancy outside.  Until the OP was in place.  Then, she spent most of her time in front of the fridge.  Waiting for some turkey lunch meat.  She cried every time we opened the door of the fridge. She earned the name: "Frances the talking cat."  She grew so big that we had to put wood blocks under her dishes, as she could not reach them over her belly.  Our UPS driver saw her and said: "Lady, I think this cat is pregnant with a dog."  Little 7 pound Frances looked like a Macy's Parade balloon on Thanksgiving morning.
Frances' 7
The 2 day trial came, and the "beast" was trying to revoke the order of protection that kept him out and the cats in.  When the judge said: "I am not going to let you back in that house with that beautiful family"...I cried.  My teenage daughter left the court to pick up her little brother.  I came home after her.  She greeted me at the front gate: "Mom, Frances is having her kittens!"  I assumed Frances had found the boxes with bedding I had placed around.  But nooo, she was having them right on the front door rug for the world to see.  For me, 9 kittens was a big enough flare.  Signs come in all different ways. This one told me he would really never be back.
You can see how wide her belly is when she is not pregnant. Maine Coon.
9 kittens was too many.  2 did not make it.  7 kittens was enough to give us hope.  We delighted in watching their growth, her first time mothering, and "Uncle Columbus."  Uncle Columbus liked the kittens too.  He would take them from their box and put them on a big wing chair. He'd bathe them from head to toe.  Frances the talking cat was really not amused.  So she began hiding them in places every night.  Behind the washer and dryer was her favorite.  Columbus at 22 pounds couldn't fit back there.  Every morning my son and I would play "let's find the kittens." 

Frances was really not a social kitty.  She was much shyer than her extrovert bro.  When I left the farm it was in an ambulance.  Orders of protection don't always protect.  I never returned, it was too dangerous.  I was only allowed 2 cats in my temporary home.  When asked which two, I knew Frances and Columbus. Columbus was extraordinary, and no one could find Frances to adopt her.  She would only come to us.  The 2 cats traveled cross country with me to our new life in one cat carrier to New Mexico.  As you know Columbus succumbed to cancer last year.  Frances spent his last month sleeping with him in "his box", then howling for days after he passed.  I hope they are together again.  Thinking they are, gives me great comfort.
Columbus and Frances days before his leaving us.

Where Frances spent her last days.
Frances was a cat who would not sit on your lap.  However, she liked to be turned on her back and held like a baby.  After Columbus died, she became more social.  She started sleeping on the rug under Buddy's dish.  Using his dish as a pillow.  As ever, she'd meow constantly for food if you were near her dish.  She slept between Bob and my pillows until this last month.  Her bladder had thickened and the discomfort, and urgency to be near her litter box left her to live in a 5 sq. foot radius of her own making.  The medicine helped her pain, but made her a zombie.  Last week I was petting her. She had been laying in the same place Columbus had spent his last days.  Never moving except to eat and potty.  She lifted her head when I started petting her, and gave me "the look."  "Enough" she was saying.  Cats are stoic creatures, silent to the end.  After that, I realized keeping her going was meeting my needs, not hers.

Today I let her go. With her goes the last piece of my farm. 

Thanks for reading.  Each day is a gift. Open now.