Wednesday, October 5, 2011

TFS (True Feline Story): The Lives of Colby and Franklin

I sit here with watery eyes and a heavy heart.

It’s still hard to believe both of them are gone.

I know there are some people who wonder how one would get attached to animals. The non-pet owners may not be able to comprehend the emotion attached, and I can respect the detachment.

However, I know that pet owners, pet lovers can somewhat relate to what I’m saying. Colby and Franklin became part of the family, and although the dynamic of the family changed along the way, I still considered them family.

Here is the story.

yes the doll that got chewed up
I was not a cat person. Primarily, I was a dog person. Through my growing up, I had three dogs. One was named Beautie. She had the coloring of a golden retriever, but she was a mutt. We experimented with having her as an inside pet, but after she chewed up one of my Barbie dolls I got as a gift, that was a no go.

Not that Beautie minded being outside; she just didn’t like being chained up. At times, she would escape from the chain, but she knew she had it good at home because she would always come back.

Then, Beautie became pregnant, and it was a difficult pregnancy. Almost all of the pups died instead of a dark brown and white one. I decided to name him Bucky because he seemed to be a bit wild. Unlike his mom, Bucky would rarely let you pet him. He never was too comfortable around people. He did love to run around and play outside.

Beautie died a bit after Bucky was born. Like his mom, Bucky sometimes got free from the chain. Like his mom, Bucky would always come back. One time, however, he didn’t. As it turns out, one of my neighbors hit Bucky with his car. I was very sad.

It was a long time before the family wanted another dog. I saw Brownie and fell in love with him immediately. He was the color of MS mud with splashes of white on him. He lived for a very long time; I had him during my junior high years and he passed on around sophomore year of college. Three times was the charm for the family; my grandparents didn’t try and get another dog after that.

Cats were rare in my neighborhood in MS. That is because for as long as I could remember, the neighborhood was run by dogs. If you were a cat in the neighborhood, you would not survive for very long…unless you were the type of cat that was super tough or got along extremely well with dogs. Last time I was back at home, earlier this year, the dynamic had slightly changed, but not by much.

My grandma was and still isn’t a big fan of cats. I didn’t know how to feel about them because I hadn’t been exposed to them much.

Then, I moved to Jersey in 2003 and got exposed to my first close encounter with a cat. His name was Puddleglum but was nicknamed Pud for short. He was my partner’s cat. He didn’t act like a typical cat…with the whole rubbing against the leg. He didn’t even meow that much. However, he did seem to like me a lot, and after a while, I got adjusted to him. When I was having a bad day, Pud would pop up, as if he knew I needed a pick-me up. So I would pet him and start feeling better.

Pud, however, was a very old cat, and a few months later, he started getting very sick. We took him to the vet and discovered he was diabetic; we could try to keep him alive and such, but it would get very costly, and with him being so old, there was no guarantee he would really get better. So my partner and I made the decision to put him to rest. I felt very sad over the whole thing.

My partner, however, felt like the best way to get over the loss of one animal was to try and get another animal. So not too long after the loss of Pud, we went to this adoption agency to look for a new pet.

One of the first that caught my eye was a cat with stripes; he had the prettiest green eyes I had ever seen. I also noticed one of his ears had been clipped; I guess that made him more endearing to me. His name was Franklin; he just kept looking at me. The lady asked me if I wanted to hold him. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to or not; Pud had never been the type that liked to be held.

“This cat gives hugs,” the lady from the adoption agency told me.

She took him out of the cage and put him in my arms. Franklin nuzzled his head under my chin and wrapped his paws around my neck.

“Wow, he really seems to like you. He normally doesn’t get that comfortable right away.”

There’s a saying: The human selects his dog; the cat selects his human.

I didn’t know how true that was until that day. Cats really do select who they want to be their master. However, since cats have an independent nature, sometimes you don’t feel as if you are ever truly a master…if you know what I mean.

I wanted to walk around to look at some of the other cats. When it came time to put Franklin back in the cage, he didn’t seem to want to let go at first.

As I walked around, there was a cat who had his white paws outstretched…almost as if to say, “Look at me, look at me….”

He caught the attention of my partner and we inquired about him; we were told his name was Colby and that he was used to being around people and other animals which was a bit of a stark contrast to Franklin who had been through a tiny bit of trauma, some of it related to the clipping of his ear.

We didn’t take them home right away. My partner’s mom said she knew of a cat one of her friends was trying to get rid of but that didn’t come into fruition.

Then, we decided to go back to the adoption agency with the intent of adopting just one cat. We had ultimately decided it was going to be Franklin. My partner hadn’t spent much time with him but knew he had developed a liking to me; that would be good enough.

However, once we got there, Colby stuck his paw out the cage, as if to say, “Hey, what about me…over here….”

My partner looked at Colby, then looked at me.

I looked at Colby, looked at my partner, looked at Franklin.

I knew then we wouldn’t be able to leave there without Colby.

So we left with one extra cat.

The two were as different as night and day. Colby was at ease with the new environment right way, running up and down the stairs, jumping in the cabinets…always the daredevil. Part of it could have been because he was six months younger, other part was because he was more sociable.

Franklin, however, was more cautious. It took him about a week to become comfortable with his new environment, and then a little longer to get used to Colby.

Colby started off very small, so at first, Franklin tended to bully Colby, but a few months down the line, Colby had a tremendous growth spurt, so although Franklin was six months older, Colby was quite a bit bigger, and once Colby realized it, the relationship became a lot better.

Colby was very dog-like for a cat…loving to play, thinking he had to dig for food and water. To this day I have no idea why he felt like he had to dig in the water bowl. A huge fan of string, open boxes, toys, and cat nip. My partner loved to play with him; I felt like they were a great fit together.

Franklin, however, had very needy moments, and I was the one who was nurturing. I would pet him and give him hugs; I would spend a lot of time with him, so it always felt like Franklin was my cat.

So I guess Colby picked my partner; Franklin picked me. Not that they acted overly different when one of us interacted with the other one…it just how it seemed.

Then my relationship ended with my partner back in 2008, and the family dynamic changed. We had acquired a third cat along the way because one of my partner’s best friends had moved to France. My partner had decided not to stay in the old family home; I had to relocate to somewhere more affordable.

Just because the dynamic changed, we still had to consider the animals. In a way, they were like kids. It was hard for me to find an apartment to accommodate me in terms of having a cat. Then, I found a place that would allow me to have one; at the time, I thought I was bringing one.

We really didn’t want to separate Colby and Franklin because they came together and were used to each other. Plus, the other cat (who was female) had been through significant trauma with other animals; therefore, she didn’t get along with Colby and Franklin at all and had to be constantly separated.

At the last minute, however, my ex could only take one cat; I ended up stuck with taking Colby and Franklin.

Although the dynamic changed and the location changed, Colby and Franklin adjusted. I extended the invitation for my ex to come and visit, since we adopted them together. The invitation was extended for me to come by and see Easterly, the female cat.

I tried to keep contact with Easterly, but things were extremely strained. Because of certain events, I couldn’t come to visit when my ex’s dad was there. The ex couldn’t talk about visits to see the cats. Then, after a while, the ex stopped coming around, being in contact, or even asking about the cats.

The pain of losing such a long relationship began to dull day by day. I stopped thinking of the cats as a reminder of the lost relationship; they weren’t to blame for what took place. I just had to focus on trying to love and care for them as best I could.

That’s exactly what I did until they got as sick as they did.

Hints of the old Franklin surfaced yesterday. He was talking to me and nudging his nose against my hand as if to let me know it was the last time.

It was the sweetie who noticed that Franklin’s breathing was in bad shape. We called the vet hospital to see what time they closed and if we could come there, but Franklin died before we could even finish the call to the vet.

The only thing I could do to see if Colby could be saved. The vet said we could try to save Colby but it would cost a lot of money and it would be no guarantee it would work. I just hated to see Colby suffer; I just sensed that even if Colby was able to survive, he would feel very lonely without his adopted brother, Franklin.

So just like with Pud a little over eight years ago, I had to do what I felt was best for Colby. He nuzzled his nose against my hand, licked my fingertips…I guess that was his way of saying that it was okay and that he understood. However, it didn’t make it any less difficult.

It was more difficult in a way. I don’t have family here in Jersey, so they were like family..the last remnants of what family felt like.

I told the sweetie it would be a very long time before I acquire another animal.

Some of you probably think it’s the pain talking. Some may even agree the best healing to get over the loss of an animal is to immediately get another one.

I can honestly say it’s not just the pain. Yes, the pain is part of it, but I want to give reverence to the cats. I want to cherish the ten years of memories. I don’t want those replaced.

And so it is.

1 comment:

Reggie said...

Meow (I hate cats).