Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Frank, the Gregarious Cat
I met Frank when Carol and I were living in Hollywood a couple of years after we moved to Los Angeles from Colorado. The house we were in at that time was in a lovely little neighborhood within walking distance of Griffith Park. There was a large avocado tree in the back yard which meant that every other year we had about as much guacamole as we could eat. I loved that house. The owners lived in San Diego and were wonderful people.
Frank found us and the next door neighbors at about the same time, and, for awhile, both families were feeding him. He was an orange and off-white cat with beautiful markings, but what really made him special was his personality. He had an ability to make friends instantly with anyone, including other cats and even most dogs. He was fearless and so full of self-confidence that he was not intimidated by anything. He was just one of those animals that assumed everyone would like him and operated on that basis. Friendly. That's what he was. Friendly.
I'm not sure why we won the battle for his affections, but eventually he moved into our house and we adopted him. He fit right into our household which already included two cats, Max and Müss. Frank and Max soon became best friends. Frank, though was a free spirit and would roam around making new friends and visiting old ones. When people would go by with their dogs, on a leash of course, Frank would walk right up to the dog and go nose-to-nose with it. The dogs never seemed to mind. Frank just wanted to say hello and the dogs were okay with it most of the time.
When we had to move from that house to where we live now, it took awhile for Max and Müss to adapt to their new environment. Not Frank, though, he immediately went around and introduced himself to the neighbors. Everybody loved him, even the people who didn't much care for Carol and I. People would stop on the sidewalk in front of our house and wait for Frank to come out and say hello to them. Some people were known to make a special trip just to say "Hi" to Frank. He made himself useful, too. He kept the birds from nesting in the eaves of one of the neighbor's houses, which the neighbor told me he appreciated. He was perfect.
He took to roaming a bit too far, though, and that proved to be his downfall. When he took up visiting the neighbors on the other side on the street, his fate was sealed. One evening I heard screaming coming from the side of the house. It was Frank. He had been hit by a car and every time he tried to move his back legs he would scream. We rushed him to the emergency veterinary hospital since our regular veterinarian was closed at that hour, but all they could do was make him comfortable. When we moved him over to Highland Park Animal Hospital the next day, we learned that his hip was broken and was pinching his sciatic nerve when he tried to move causing him extreme pain. Every time I heard him scream, the sound went right through my heart. The wonderful people at Highland Park referred us to the Animal Specialty Group. We took him there to see if they could help us. If they couldn't, it was likely that no one could.
I was working as a sort of paralegal at the time and had to run around during the day getting signatures on contracts and legal documents for a case I was helping with. All the while my attention was on how Frank was doing. I kept hearing that scream and my heart would ache and the tears would well up in my eyes. It was one of the worst days I've ever had. I got the signature I needed, knocked off for the day and went to visit Frank. The vets at the Animal Specialty Group had decided that they would try to fix his hip. I talked to him before he went into surgery. He tried to crawl towards me and there was that scream again. I told him to hang in there, that the surgeon was going to try to fix him.
He didn't make it. As soon as they put him under the anesthetic, he gave up his little body. They spent a consider amount of time and effort trying to revive him, but he'd already gone by then. I'm sure he just wanted to be free of that pain. I wanted that for him, too. Still, it broke my heart when I got the news. It breaks my heart still today. It is very difficult for me to even tell this story. The people at the Animal Specialty Group were angels. They went to extraordinary efforts to save Frank and I am grateful to them for their efforts. After all they did, they never even sent me a bill, only a lovely, heartfelt card to express their sympathy.
Time has helped to heal the heartache I can still feel from the loss of Frank, but I have Quint now, and he has all of the best characteristics of Frank and more. And I have Hedge, who has grown up into a sweet, handsome fellow who makes me smile with his antics. Finally, for contrast, I have old, grouchy Ebony who loudly informs me that he's hungry several times a day. Life goes on, so the saying goes, and time does help to heal those old wounds, but I still miss Frank. Next to Quint, he was my favorite.