I turn to stone when you are gone I turn to stone

When I was a swingin' single gal in Seattle (that was alliterative), I had a cat (and it is kind of too bad I didn't have a salmon, but I kind of did, actually. There was this big fish store across the street and it had a giant salmon on top of the store and its fish mouth moved up and down constantly. I used to imagine it said, "Hiiiii, Juuunnne! How was your dayyyyy!?" I really did. How did I ever snag a man?) and I used to come home to my cat, Mr. Horkheimer, and ask him, "How was your cat day?"

Apparently inquiring about how days went was big with me.

Apt 001
My apartment in Seattle, with the amazing Mr. Horkheimer at right, near –guess what?– a bookshelf.

The phrase, "How was your cat day?" became kind of a habit with me, and I find myself asking Marvin that same thing sometimes.

Well, I'll tell you what. Today was a bad cat day. It was a particularly bad cat day for our cat Francis.

In 1997, right after Princess Diana died, Marvin and I were engaged and living in an apartment in North Hollywood. Okay, yes, get all your judgy I-am-a-tramp-with-my-tramp-steamer-doing-my-Charlie-Chaplin-tramp-impression-tramping-around-town thoughts out right now. He bought the cow, didn't he?

So there we were in our apartment, me being a vamp, when we heard this weird, "Meaaaaaa!" noise in the night. We heard it again. High-pitched. "Meaaaaa!"

"What was that?" I asked, heading to the balcony. Other neighbors were on their balconies, too.

"It's a bird," said Marvin.

"Birds don't sing at night, do they?"

"Did you hear that?" our really ridiculously dramatic and turns out kind of nosy neighbor in the facing apartment complex asked us from his balcony, a daiquiri in his hand. "I did," I said. "I think it's a kitten!"

"It's a bird," Marvin insisted.

I guess I don't need to tell you it wasn't a bird, and several hours of hearing "Meaaa!" and many heroic attempts by the daiquiri-holder's boyfriend later, the teeniest, tiniest little kitten you ever saw emerged from the ivy of our carport roof. The boyfriend said the little thing had been hanging upside-down.

And this, folks, is how I got Francis. I originally named him Diana, thinking he was a girl, because when he first emerged from the ivy he still had his eyes closed, was toothless, and his gender was a little hard to determine. Not that I would have been able to sex him by his teeth.

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Little Diana Francis when we first got him. We needed Tilex so bad.

We had to feed him from a bottle, using cat's milk, which let me tell you is cheap. And just like a human baby, Fran would wake up crying in the night and we would have to get him from his little bed we made for him in the bathroom, where he had a hot water bottle and blankets, and take turns feeding him. It was years later that Marvin finally admitted to me that one night he was really tired and didn't warm up Francis' bottle like we were instructed, and he watched that poor kitten shiver for an hour and felt horrid.

This is why we do not have kids.

Anyway, even though all of our friends were just waiting for my hysterical "THE KITTEN DIED!" phone call, Francis pulled though and 11 and a half years later he weighs 20 pounds.

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Francis the kitten with his Great American Hero, Mr. Horkheimer. There was no one he admired as much as Horkie.

So last night I was here in the computer room, having a pertinent email conversation with faithful reader Jan about the Howard Stern show, when Francis started meowing insistently. I thought maybe he was yelling at Tallulah, as he is not a fan. But his meows got louder, and suddenly he started screaming.

Screaming.

It was 9 or 10 at night.

We all ran in there, all of us, and poor Francis was struggling to get up, and he couldn't, and nothing we did helped him, and I can't begin to tell you how awful it was. And here is the problem. Francis is completely nuts. The whole we-raised-him-since-he-was-two-weeks-old thing? Yeah. Although he's great with us, he is a SCARY SCARY NUTBAR with everyone else, and was actually banned from the vet in LA, because he went for my throat and the throat of the vet, so his vet visits have been limited at best.

He quieted down in a few minutes and went to sleep.

Nevertheless, I had him at the vet at 7:30 this morning. He was quiet all night until about 5 a.m. and his screaming started again, and you do not even want to know how hard it was to get him in that crate. I honestly thought we were going to have to call the police or something to help us. I am being serious. He is so scary when he gets frightened.

So guess what? My poor cat is passing a kidney stone. Four hundred dollars later, and all we can do is give him pain meds and wait it out. Oh, and the best part was when they called me at work and said, "Um, would it be okay if we lightly sedated Francis? We can't get near him to do any testing." I'm all, knock him out cold! You think I don't know what you're up against? Lightly sedate him.

I kept trying to picture how they even sedated him. Did they shoot some sort of blow dart across the room?

DSCF1682

Here is my poor baby right now. He is loaded to the gills with painkillers. Just the way I like him. I got to see his x-rays, which were kind of fascinating and kind of made me want to faint all at the same time.

You know, I have been mentally preparing for Ruby's demise–she and Francis are about the same age. And then Francis has to up and get ill. I was just not prepared to lose my ridiculous Fran yet. So please, everyone send nice thoughts to his nutty self. Even you, mother-in-law. Who Francis may have slapped twice. Or maybe three times.

49 thoughts on “I turn to stone when you are gone I turn to stone

  1. Oh June. My Oregano, who (whom?) we raised from Way Too Young, was also a Fierce and Vicious Nutbar. We had a similar experience at the vet’s when they had to don leather gloves and use that noose on a stick thing they use for wild rabid animals. Oregano did not have a lot of fans since he was fond of the smack, swipe and oh here’s a nasty bite while I’ve got your attention way of saying how-do. Sometimes he would just attack with no provocation. ANYWAY, he also developed kidney problems and had to be on specially-ordered rx food for years BUT he lived to be 21 years old! And died peacefully at home. Sigh. I miss that nasty shit. Btw, he was also a tuxedo cat. Cue Twilight Zone music.

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  2. Paula FNYD,
    I have a theory, and it is very scientific, that if a cat is GOING to be nutty, it is generally a tuxedo tabby. And if a cat is orange? It is usually really nice.

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  3. Whew! I was getting all ready with the tissues and trying to search for words for when I was going to have to try to explain to my husband why I was sobbing over June’s kitty’s passing. Thank Goodness Francis is going to be OK. You scared me for a minute. Perhaps his being a scary nutbar is stemming from the fact that he was discovered as an itty-bitty baby HANGING UPSIDE DOWN in ivy. Did you ever figure out how he got there? Was his kitty momma near by? Should I post these questions back at “Ask June”?
    PS Eric the midget was on today. GOLD!!!

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  4. June,
    I have an orange cat now and he IS very nice! Not terribly bright, but nice.
    I also have a Siamese. Enough said.

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  5. Okay, I have GOT to stop answering everybody, BUT, you know what, Jan, yes, and I need to add more commas, to, this, sentence. The mom cat was often around and there were many other skittish black-and-white kittens dashing about, too. I think she abandoned Francis because HE IS NUTS and she was trying to let nature take its course and the fruit-and-nut LA people couldn’t let it go.
    And of course I heard Eric on Howard and thought of you. Which may not be flattering, really.

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  6. Long time lurker, first time commenter. I’ve read all of this blog, and all of “Bye Bye Buy,” so I’ve done my research, and it’s time I announce myself as present.
    This blog is often the best part of my day. Thank you for writing it.
    And what drew me from my silence? This kitty. Kidney stones!? Looks like my tuxedo, Meatsock. Give Francis my best.
    Also, what probably really broke my lurky silence? You had “Flaming June” on your wall in Seattle. Is she the inspiration for your pseudo?

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  7. Heh – blow dart! And then Meatsock! Hahahahaaha!
    I’m glad it was something manageable like a kidney stone – I know from family that they’re terribly painful, but not life-threatening. Poor fella – I hope he recovers soon.

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  8. First of all, Mr. Horkheimer was the most gargantuan cat! Just beautiful! I see you have a fondness for tuxedo kitties, too. I will keep both your kitties in my prayers. Have you ever had a kidney stone? I had one several years ago. I’ve never given birth but it’s the only thing I can imagine it being comparable to!

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  9. Ok (grumble grumble), I am sending good (grumble grumble) thoughts that crazy cats way. I am reading Wally Lamb’s book about Columbine now–are you sure Francis didn’t participate? Sorry he is ill. Even sorrier (is that a word?)that is costing you all that money. You could buy at least 4 of those pretty necklaces with that money. Keep us posted. As G. Sophie always said “this too shall pass”

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  10. I have been following you (not down the street or anything) for about 2 months and then about a week ago, I decided to go back and catch you (again, just figuratively) from the beginning of your blogging days. And now that I can comment on 2 years worth of LA, Tiny Town and the present, I am only sad for poor Francis. And poor the rest of the Gardensalad clan.
    And a sidenote to othermama–how is that Wally Lamb book? Worth the price of a hardcover?
    Sorry. I really am only thinking of Francis, not my selfish literary needs . . .

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  11. Sorry your cat is sick.
    Now, to the important part of this comment: why was I not included in this Howard Stern email conversation? You know I am the ultimate super fan.

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  12. I too noticed the “Flaming June” print in the Seattle apartment and wondered the same thing about whether it was your inspiration for your blog name. πŸ™‚ And I hope your cat is ok! We lost a pet this weekend, so I’m extra sensitive to sick animals right now 😦

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  13. So when Jim Davis portrays his big fat orange cat as mean and manipulating, he’s painting an inaccurate picture? Good to know.
    I’m so sorry your cat is in agony. I like the story of how you got him. I was going to ask you how you acquired all your cats. Which means I need to go to that Ask June post and post it there.

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  14. OH NO! I am so sorry Francis is ill!!!! I was about to cry. I hope that special fur baby will be better soon. Do cats pass kidney stones like people? I’ve had a couple tuxedo cat–Buster, who was mean as a snake and Eric Rudolph (we couldn’t catch him) who we finally caught and took to the vet. He literally climbed the wall in the vet’s office (there was grass cloth on the walls). He gave a whole new meaning to scared. I had an orange cat, Minnie Mouse House Mouse that was sooo sweet. Orange cats make the best pets every. However, my one and only fur baby left, Oscar Snuggles, King of Tidewater is the sweetest baby of all. I need to write a post on how we got him and his sister, Emmie Sweet Pea.
    Even if Fran is crazy as a bed bug, he’s still your special fur baby and you don’t want him to be in pain or suffer. I’ll pray he will get better. I really believe God is interested in every area of our lives and things that concern us, and I know you are concerned for your sick fur baby, Francis.

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  15. The blow dart comment cracked me up.
    I used to work for a vet and we did a lot of spaying/neutering of feral cats. We had a technique involving leather gloves up to our elbow, a very thick towel, a swimming pool net, and our loaded needle that worked pretty well with those crazy guys.
    If you missed on the first try with the swimming pool net though, it got ugly real fast.

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  16. June, I had a crazy Kira Kitty. She was absolutley unmanageable with everyone. I am highly allergic to cats but I made an exception for Kira. Then one day I am laying on my waterbed (don’t judge you tramp) and Kira Kitty dives off the upper beams of the WB right onto the WB claws out. A flood ensued and mayhem and chaos erupted. She ran through the house screaming bloody murder. Yes you guessed it, a kidney stone. Just remember kitty qualudes are good. Sending hugs for you and Frances.

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  17. I have to tell you, if your blog was not so amazing, I would really have to stop reading it…, the cats, you’re scaring me to death with the pictures, June. You know Peace is afraid, and yet you continue to not warn me. I try to overlook it, but I can no longer hold my tongue. My heart is beating out of my chest right now. It’s like an accident, I can’t stop looking, even though…
    Peace

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  18. Hand raised cats are notoriously not nice! And are you sure he’s passing a kidney stone?? Or was his urethra blocked with bladder stones? I’ve never seen kidney stones in a cat…….

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  19. Poor kitty–I hope he passes it soon. Especialy so there’s no more screaming–I can’t imagine how horrific that would sound.
    I know! Pass him a daquiri. Or two.

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  20. Sometimes those black and whites are sweeties though. Deja’s Meatsock is a darling (we’ve met), and my kitty Flower (he was a boy but I named him after the skunk)was extra nice with nice sauce on the side. Of course I don’t know how either of them would do in a vet’s office (with grasscloth on the wall! Man I’d like to have seen that!). Not many cats like to be messed with.

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  21. Oh this is too wierd. I got a cat right after Princess Diana died also. It was for my daughter who was devastated when another cat died. I wanted to name him Spencer after Princess Diana and then we found out it was a she so we named her Princess.

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  22. My husband used to get kidney stones. And even though he didn’t scream, he went pretty nuts while trying to pass them. So my heart goes out to Francis. Here’s to a happy nutty recovery!

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  23. Garp and I are both sending good thoughts–or would that be channeling good thoughts?–to Francis and Ruby too. And a shout out to Winston and Lula while we’re at it. Even tho, and you probably don’t remember this, Francis did swipe at me once when I visited your apartment in California. But it’s good to know he’s consistent.

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  24. That is quite the adventure. I facing a very similar situation right now, only its a canine issue. My dog went to the vet 2 weeks ago and it was $250 and we found out NOTHING. anitibiotics for a suspected UTI and 2 weeks later…were going back to the vet this morning. I’m assuming it will be another million dollars for xrays, ultrasound, etc….just to see if she possibly has kidney stones or something. I’m like “COME ON…Shes 14 years old…is this really needed? maybe she is just old and falling apart!”
    I hope your kitty comes through this and is able to pass his kidney stone soon.

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  25. I know those cat screams. They’re not pretty. My poor JR (who used to set his tail on fire) screamed like that right before…well, anyway.
    Good thoughts for Francis. Even kitty prayers. XX

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  26. Poor Francis! Or rather, poor vet techs! Tuxedo cats? We usually prefer to call them, “Holsteins” here at the Hudarosa. My best to the vet techs for his quick recovery.
    I, too, had a nutburger cat named, “Terrible Tootsie LeRoux”. My skinny lavender tabby was named after a hooker and a bottle of Blackberry brandy. Don’t ask. Not that you would…

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  27. I did not want to read your post today because I was sure Francis was gone, but thankfully he is ok. My heart is with you, our kitties are our “kids” so I totally understand. Hope he passes the stone quickly and gets back to abnormal.

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  28. Sounds liek Francis is in good hands …with leaher gloves mind yiou. We have to give our cat IV fluids every week due to kidney damage. It’s not fun for any of us – when she’s done she looks like a football player (fluid is given under the skin in the scruff of her neck). Hopefully Fran will pass ths stone and be done with it “the sun is shining in the sky, there ain’t a cloud in sight, in the city where once was pity Mr. Blue Sky is shining there today, hey, hey, hey”. Heart me the ELO…

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  29. : ( poor ole thing. i can’t stand the thought of poor sweet innocent animals sick and in pain.
    please forgive me for laughing at imeowmitrex in the face of this feline crisis. i have missed you and your commenters over the holidays.

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  30. Hi June,
    SO sorry that Frannie has to go through the pain of a kidney stone. How awful. He’ll be okay, poor little dude.
    And, I have to say, Mr. Horkheimer is the most beautiful animal I’ve ever seen. Just gorgeous. And a great soul – one can see that clearly in that picture with litte Francis.
    One last comment for Jessica from Saginaw. I had a 14 year old dog that passed away in December of 2007. If I had it to do all over again I would NEVER have gotten the ultrasounds, x-rays, any of it. Get her/him on Tramadol to make her/him comfortable and just shower your doggie with love and steak. The procedures they performed on my little girl were far more traumatizing than the fact she had cancer and didn’t feel good much of the time.
    I’ll get off my soapbox now.
    xoxo to all of you dog/cat/pet lovers!

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  31. Oh, no! Our cat had struvite crystals, which are similar, but don’t pass – they clog. Hello $1K emergency vet bill for catheterizing! Better than the alternative, which was kidney failure, but still.
    And OH GOD the noise that they’ll make! I can’t blame them – what else would you do if there was severe pain that you knew nothing about? But it’s penetrating, to say the least.

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  32. I, too, had a tuxedo cat but he was a sweety. We were having Bootsie neutered right at Halloween and you got 20% off if you dressed your pet up. We put a Cabbage Patch cowboy outfit on him. When we opened the carrier at the vet he just sprang right up and stood there on his hind legs like a real cowboy. Unfortunately, he died from diabetes a few years ago. We have had to put several pets down and I have made a resolution never to let a pet suffer again for my needs.

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  33. I have two orange cats. One of them, Farley, is the most neurotic feline on the planet. When he was a kitten, the woman who owned his mother cat also had a day care center in the house. So the toddlers chased the kittens all day long. He’s 12 and still acts as if the devil is on his tail if there is any loud noise nearby. I also think he’s one stripe short of a plaid; so dumb and neurotic, a winning combo! At least he’s cute…

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  34. Here’s sending well wishes for an easy recovery for Francis! I really love the story of his rescue. My mom is terrified of cats so we always had dogs growing up, but when my boys were little we got a orange cat, Cooperstown (Cooper) and he was so sweet, he’s been gone 4 years and I still miss him. Cats are wonderful.

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  35. When I started reading I was so afraid something had happened to Francis. I so hope everything will be OK. Loved your story about how you found him. I once had a tuxedo cat who was the best cat ever, and I’ve had lots of cats. So affectionate, he followed me around like a little puppy. If I sat down he was in my lap or draped around my neck like a scarf. He died of feline leukemia (before there was a vaccine)and it’s been over 20 years ago and I still cry when I think about it. I’m crying right now. I know Francis will be OK.

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  36. Poor Poor Kitty! Are you required to watch for the final passing and keep the stone? I had a friend once who passed a kidney stone and was instructed to pee through a strainer to catch it. I’m trying to visualize you following Francis around with a strainer to catch the stone.
    I hope he’s better by today.

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