When Frankie first came into her new home she went through the house exploring every room, then going to the ground floor into the rec room, found a plush 4 or 5" bear atop a red cushion, minding its own business. It had been sitting on a Parson's bench for a number of years. 

Having a mind of her own, Frankie decided that had to stop and, grasping the bear between her teeth, she brought it upstairs to the carpeted living room, sitting the bear down between her front legs as if guarding it for its life.

While the bear was between her legs with a lightening motion of her head, she had her teeth around one of the bear's protruding ears and flung it into the dining area; making me feel like I hit the jackpot in observing her love of and play with the bear. This five-month-old cat continued to massacre the bear with her play for about a year until gingivitis caused havoc with her gums, teeth and mouth.

The upshot was seven teeth removed, some gum suturing and a huge dental bill. That same day, after coming home, she immediately went to her food bowl and ate some Chunky Chicken. Don't cats know they are supposed to hurt? What human would want to eat after undergoing such drastic dental surgery?

After a short span of healing, she continued her love of and playing with the bear.

Almost six months later to the day, Frankie would only nibble at her food, it remained uneaten, and that was not good for either one of us. I was more than worried. Taking her to the Animal Hospital it was quickly confirmed the gingivitis had returned with a vengeance. Her entire mouth was inflamed and red. Discussing our options, first trying some medicines that helped for a little while, the only viable option left was removal of all remaining twenty-three teeth. Cats and dogs, do not chew their food, it is swallowed and nature takes over. She would not be affected that way.

I had other discomforting thoughts, would she live through this surgery, would she be able to lead a normal life as a house cat, never let outside? Would she suffer depression with the loss of her teeth? Would she lead life, as a cat should, eating, sleeping, playing, loving me, and doing all the things that was her heritage. Other cat lovers might choose euthanasia because of the big dental bill sure to follow. Money meant nothing at this stage; I could not afford not to give Frankie every chance to live. She had become a part of me. She was one of the "children" Evelyn and I never had.

Biting the bullet, with a prayer, I put Frankie through the trauma of having all her teeth removed. Of course, she had to stay the night at the Dental Hospital and I was on pins and needles waiting for the call to let me know Frankie was alive and now, toothless.

Finally, the call came after I ate a tasteless and miserable supper. She was OK, but doped up and was resting comfortably. Pick her up tomorrow morning. I needed no urging. My beautiful Calico was coming home to her companion cat, Johnnie and me, her Mr. Mom.

We arrived home, her lower lip swollen from the surgery; Johnnie greeted us upon entering. I opened the pet carrier door; Frankie went downstairs to her litter box, came back up to the kitchen to her food bowl, toothless or not, she was hungry and wanted some food.  Purposely I had prepared flaked chicken and tuna in case she was hungry, it was a soft food. However, Frankie had to teach herself how to pick up the food with her swollen lip.

Today, Frankie is a beautiful Calico five-year old, happy, healthy, a great joy in my life. I never disposed of the bear since she was toothless, deciding to put it away. About four months ago looking for something in the box holding the bear and other toys, I took it out and left the bear on the living room rug. The following scene happened just a couple months ago and it almost broke my heart.

I walked into the living room just as Frankie put her lips around the bear's protruding ear, she then tried to toss it as she done so many times before her tooth loss. It fell about two feet from her face. I was saddened to think what her bout with gingivitis did to her playful spirit. I hurt for her.

At the very least, it did not affect her appetite, or her love for me, if anything her love was even stronger. Another thing the gingivitis had a direct effect upon the following daily happenings. For the last month after going to bed each night, upon waking the next morning, I found the bear on the bedroom floor. For some reason I attributed this nightly gift for me to Johnnie. Knowing Frankie had trouble even tossing it around as in the past.

I was wrong, my little girl, my beautiful Frankie, was showing her love for me by bringing me a gift, the bear, to my bedroom each evening. Funny thing, I heard a strange meow, never associated it with Frankie bringing me the gift bear. Cats have many tonal meows. I have read they can vocalize up to a hundred that have different meanings.

One cat communicating with another seems to be easy. Frankie communicating with me, her Mr. Mom, even after five years in some ways is still a problem. To me, in observing Frankie or Johnnie's actions is clue enough to their wants or needs.

Frankie is at my feet as I type this and giving me a meow and a touch I understand very well, . . . she wants to sit on my lap, start kneading and lick my arm with her raspy tongue. She's doing just that now and I have to yell, Frankie NO, at least three times before she stops scraping my arm with her tongue.

What more can I say, other than, "We're lovers?"

In the Middle of a World...

"In the middle of a world that has always been a bit mad, the cat walks with confidence."

Roseanne Anderson

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