In July 2018, my husband Ron and I adopted (more like, rescued) a five-month-old ginger Himalayan Persian cat named Frankie. We gave him his full name: Franklin Timothy Minchin XV, but over his time with us, he gained many nicknames: Doodle; Mowmie (which stands for Mini Orange Wooly Mammoth); Muffin; and my favorite, Grumble Bunny. He got that last one because of the unique grumbling/growl he made when he was happy. Frankie was not a high-energy cat from day one, and he didn’t care to play with toys. He had a strange breathing issue that made his sides move in and out, even when he was at rest, but which worsened when he felt stressed. He randomly peed and pooped all over the house—even after we got a second, huge litter box—up until his last day alive. Frankie had trauma-based issues, and lots of them.
For example, during the first several months of Frankie living in our home—which is a pretty chill place, I might add—he spent a lot of time hanging out in our bathtubs and sinks. He didn’t do much in the way of detailed preening like healthy Persian cats do, like clean his schmutzy little face. (We cleaned it for him every other day, and loved him through all the other challenges presented. And by the way, the doctors never found anything wrong with him during routine checkups and lab work.)
We did all we could to keep Frankie out of these hard, sometimes wet, not-relaxing spaces. After about 10-12 months, he did give up the desire to isolate himself, and spent most of his time in all the best cat-friendly places in our home. Evenings, while I cleaned up after dinner, he enjoyed hanging out with Ron in the satellite office.
And nothing says “retreat” like mommy and daddy’s bed! All mine!
Nilla, our older female Seal-Point Himalayan Persian, did persecute Frankie somewhat in the first year or so. She is extremely fastidious, and she also acts like the queen of the house (even though she knows that she is the princess, and mommy is the queen), which is how I think she justified treating Frankie like a dirty little boy. There wasn’t much Ron and I could do while we slept. But during the day—because I work from home—I was able to manage and slowly change the dynamic. Also, Frankie got really big, really fast, and his alpha-cat awesomeness started to shine through, despite his health problems. Of course, this doesn’t diminish Nilla’s own amazingness!
Frankie’s personality developed quickly as well, in many ways. He had several unique vocalizations. There was his “water song” that he sang, day or night, while pawing at the water dish. It sounded like a kitty dirge but with a sort of amazement quality, like he was saying, “Wow! Water! I love you! Please don’t leave me.” There was his morning appeal to Ron for brushies on his favorite pedestal (I could actually hear him say, “Ron! Ron! Come on!”). And there was my favorite Frankie sound—that of him purring— which was a gruff purr and a sweet song and a bit of gripe, all happening simultaneously and inspiring me to call him Grumble Bunny. Despite his physical and emotional challenges, Frankie was making a delightful transformation!
In the last year, Frankie very much limited his jumping to specific places. For example, Frankie used to sleep on our bed, at my feet. More specifically, at night, he would wait until I was ready to turn off the light and was laying on my back with legs spread so he could nestle in between my feet!
In his last few days, Frankie didn’t sleep on the the bed, which made me feel very sad. And I noticed that during his last 4-5 months, he would still jump up on his pedestal for morning brushies, but for evening brushies, he often avoided hopping up and I had to pick him up and place him on the pedestal. He was still happy to have the loving attention, though!
Frankie’s personality came out in other ways. For example, Ron and I tore out the carpeting and linoleum in our entire house in order to stain and seal the concrete. Here is a photo of Frankie photo-bombing the photo of our living room floor that was stained, sealed, dry, and ready to sit overnight before returning the furniture. He did love to be the center of attention, and he was never pushy or aggressive but always a perfect blend of graceful and goofy!
My personal favorite time with Frankie was any time he came to me or called out to me as I was traversing between one side of the house and the other. I would pet him and he would start walking around the living room. If I stopped petting him, he would look back at me and encourage me to keep petting. I called this “The Tour” because some of the sessions would go on for several minutes through the common area of the house. At some point—whenever Frankie decided it was time—he would flop down on the floor in the cutest, silliest way and demand that I scratch his chin. I called this part “Frankie’s Famous Flop-Down.” Sometimes, he would even let me rub his belly for five or six seconds. Every “tour” was a completely new adventure for us both.
I knew that tensions between Nilla and Frankie were easing when they started trading “special places” with each other. For example, Nilla likes to sleep in the in-box on my desk, and Frankie started making it clear that he was very interested in doing so.
And then, one day, it just happened: I found Nilla on Frankie’s favorite pedestal, and Frankie in the in-box! I really wasn’t sure how he got his huge body in that little space, but clearly he made it work:
I was also fortunate to capture the rare “Ultimate Two-Persian-Cat Portrait Pose” in December 2020:
Things took a sudden, wild turn in early February 2021 when Ron and I hosted “Kitty Salon,” an event during which we bathe the cats in our kitchen sink.
Needless to say, they hate Kitty Salon, but they love feeling clean and fluffing out after a day or two (no blow-dryers here). They were both accustomed to this process, since we bathed them every 6-8 weeks. Well, Frankie panicked for the first time and it took him a full night and day to recover. His little heart was pounding and he was panting for several hours. Even the next day, fully dry, he was lethargic and breathing heavily. Thankfully, after another day, he started eating and drinking again. He wanted brushies and treats.
Sadly, things got worse again. He stopped pooping. Then Nilla stopped pooping. Days went on. He acted normally but was dropping weight and barely eating (except for treats after brushies). Assuming that he was severely constipated, I tried several over-the-counter and natural orally administered products to assist with bowel movements. (Ron and I both agreed that Nilla was exhibiting “sympathy pains” and was likely fine.)
Saturday, February 13, while Ron was working, I took Frankie and Nilla to emergency service at the veterinary hospital because they weren’t still pooping and we thought they had impacted colons. The doctor called me 45 minutes after Frankie’s intake (because, as you know, medical practices are not allowing family inside the facility), telling me that Frankie had no stool in his colon and he was panting uncontrollably. She also said that there was fluid coming out of his nose. She wanted to give him a mild sedative before continuing the exam; I agreed, and she said she would call me again.
I walked outside to our mailbox. The sun popped out from behind a cloud as I stepped onto the street. I know now that this was Frankie. But I digress.
The doctor called fifteen minutes after her previous call. She said, “Frankie’s not doing well.” “What does that mean?” I asked. She said that Frankie had started open-mouth panting and they were unable to give him the sedative because he went physically out of control. “Okay, what then?” She said, “And then he stopped breathing.” I gasped. She continued, “And his heart stopped, so I immediately intubated him and he’s breathing again.” Tears spilled out of my eyes and I had to ask, even though I knew the answer, “So if you take the tube out, he won’t breathe on his own. He’s gone.” She said, “Yes.” I told her to remove the tube.
She had questions: “Do you want to cremate him?” and so on. I went numb. My Grumble Bunny was gone.
I hung up the phone and screamed for two minutes.
And then I called Ron.
(The doctor said she believes that, based on Ron’s and my observations and her medical experience, Frankie had some kind of congenital heart condition that was worsening. She said that these kind of conditions don’t typically show up in cats until very late stages, when it’s difficult to treat them.)
The rest of the vet story is that Nilla finally got her exam and, while she also had no stool in her colon and needs some probiotics to return to perfect health, she was fine, and I am very happy for my little Beanie Baby. As I create this post, she is back in her (my) in-box. The last two mornings, she greeted me from Frankie’s favorite pedestal.
And I know in my heart that the sun coming out Saturday on my trip to the mailbox was Frankie’s bright light shining on me as his powerful little spirit ascended to Source, the God Point, the Zeroth Dimension of Divine Consciousness and Love.
But Frankie died without me (and Ron) there with him in his final moments. Would our presence as Frankie’s people-parents have saved his life? Perhaps, but no one will know that after the fact. And regardless of anyone else’s beliefs about the pandemic, we feel that it is abjectly horrific and inhumane to separate loved ones from each other, especially at medical facilities, where the sheer amount of trauma is literally in the air, and where LOVE is needed more than ever. I’m not saying the staff at Atascadero Pet Hospital are not kind, because they are. I’m saying that I feel outraged at the fact that my fuzzy little Frankie died without us there to comfort him in the worst moments of his far-too-short life because of measures that are clearly leading to needless destruction, despair, desperation, and death. I’m not saying that my and Ron’s presence would have saved Frankie’s for certain, but we will never know, will we? I don’t want to make this political, but if you don’t yet know anyone who has been separated against their will from their loved ones in the past year, now you do, and it is horrible.
I encourage everyone reading this post to use this opportunity to let your BROKEN HEART heal as it fills with Frankie’s love and light, and to use your best Grumble Bunny voice to tell the world: It’s time to return to LOVE. We know what love is, and that’s not what is happening right now. Speak up and out in your own unique, creative way, because the heart of humanity needs YOU.
Franklin Timothy Minchin XV, “Frankie,” has transitioned to kitty heaven and returned to a state of pure consciousness, of love and light. Look for his unique energetic signature in bowls of water, on window pedestals, and on adventurous “tours” of love and “flop-downs” for freedom in your life.
NOTE: All written material and images contained herein are my own, except the photo “Frankie on Ron’s Lap,” which I am using with permission from the author, Ron Hagadone. If you want to use any of these photos, please create a proper attribution that includes: Sharine Borslien, Copyright 2018-2021, All Rights Reserved, OR in the case of Ron Hagadone’s photo, use his name and Copyright 2020. In your post, please include a link somewhere to this blog post. Thank you.