A Frances Update

Last spring the vet diagnosed our 15-year old kitty, Frances, with kidney disease. Unsure whether it would progress quickly or gradually, the vet taught us how to give her subcutaneous water to fight dehydration and increase her appetite. Frances tolerated our treatments a few times, and then made it clear that further needle and tube interventions would not happen.

Nine months later she thrives, at least for now. We figured ways to have water containers everywhere she wants and to surround her canned food with a moat of water, refreshed all day. She eats well, had a grand summer in her courtyard garden in all weather, and we are thankful.

But she weighs only seven pounds at most, and is cold all the time. She’s a creature of habit, is Frances, with definite sleeping spot preferences. She watches “shows” each evening from a blanket spread on my husband’s lap, likes to sleep on his chest when he naps on the floor, and sleeps next to me – under the covers mostly. She misses our beloved housesitter, who accepted a good job in the big city, and can no longer visit to provide generous lap-sitting time. During the day, when Frances first comes indoors, she hunkers on a heat vent, then sleeps on a folded comforter at the foot of our bed or a wicker chair full of old sweaters.

Thanksgiving particularly vexes Frances – when everyone gathers here. We shift bedrooms, so the comforter and the chair are both out of bounds, and this compounds her general stress from the pitter-patter of little feet and jolly shouts of laughter. Frances is not a party animal.

I’ve wished she’d be more flexible in her sleeping places (and her general attitude), and that I could make her more comfortable. So I sent off for a thick, boiled wool cat bed from Lithuania – an ovoid cocoon with small entrance hole. The bed garnered plenty of five-star reviews on Etsy, and a couple of “my cat won’t go near” warnings. At first I feared the same from Frances – for days it sat, she barely sniffed. I put an old sweater of mine in the bottom, trying to overcome foreign smells, but no luck.

Then, on a cold and windy October day, the kind of day when I usually curl another blanket around her on the bed, I put the new possibility near her sleeping spot. Glancing that way in a little while, I could see only one ear, a black triangle against the wool, and then the triangle disappeared within the cocoon, which wriggled slightly, like when an emerging chick rattles an eggshell.

Hooray! I’m ridiculously glad she accepted a change, found warmth, and a happier Thanksgiving (her nest can come downstairs with us).

And a Happy Thanksgiving to you as well – I wish you time with family, friends, food, and cheerful pets!


12 thoughts on “A Frances Update

  1. Katy- this is particularly good. And I’m so pleased to learn that Gifford Pinchot is NOT the most spoiled animal on the Quimper Peninsula.

  2. It made me so happy to read this this morning about Frances. How smart of you and of her to find this little nest. I think people’s characters can be judged by how they treat their animals. You get the gold star! Happy Thanksgiving to you all. xoxo

  3. Our seventeen year old feral ,Bozeman, is declining with kidney disease. Frances’ story is his ! He sleeps under the covers and really is bonded only to my husband and me.
    I read your piece aloud with tears in my eyes.

    • Oh Susan – now I wish I knew more about Bozeman! We feel so lucky that Frances had this wonderful summer – and yet another holiday to greet her friends (not). I send love to you and Bozeman. He’s a lucky cat to have come indoors with you.

  4. So happy Frances is still with you! Can she really be 15? Happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone at your Thanksgiving table. We all have so much to be thankful for….family being number #1. Hugs.

  5. Aww, sweet Frances. My dog also has kidney disease but is thriving on a recipe of homemade food gotten from the vet. I know she would hate subcutaneous interventions too, so let’s hope we can hang onto our little fur babies for a while longer. 🐱 🐶

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