Finding a Forever Home

Two Sweet, Adorable Cats

Harriet and Frankie (formally, Franklin).

Frankie a/k/a Franklin
“I’m Harriet, but you can’t see me.”


They live, or used to, in my neighborhood. I pass by their house often because it is on my walking route.

Harriet and Frankie weren’t out much, but I was on the lookout for them when I passed. I caught a glimpse now and then.

I used to see them tagging along with their parents when they were out walking. This was a happy sight and uncommon for cats.

They are a little unusual also in that they respond to a whistle made by one of their parents — just like dogs.

Harriet and Frankie began their lives feral. You might remember, Paul and I rescued Clem and Bruno from our apartment parking lot. Being feral is not easy and definitely unhealthy and dangerous.

Their Parents

Terri and Phil were the parents/staff of Harriet and Frankie. I did not really know them, but we had had a couple of brief conversations.

They are both art teachers. When Covid arrived, their teaching hit an impasse. They didn’t know whether they would return to their school.

They decided to retire and move.

Thinking about Harriet and Frankie

Collage kyls

Once I learned that Phil and Terri were moving to Oregon, my mind went into gear. I was coming up with all sorts of questions about the cats.

I wondered what the plans were for their cats. Are they driving cross-country with two cats? I was trying to imagine that.

Do you just crate them with a small litter box and some water? What about overnight? This seemed like it would be a long and rough journey for Harriet and Frankie.

Then I thought maybe they were flying to Oregon. However, I could never put our pets in the cargo section of an airplane. We’ve all heard those horror stories.

Then I remembered a woman I knew who had moved from Atlanta to California. She took her cat with her on the plane.

She put it under her seat. All worked out fine. I’m assuming the cat didn’t develop a nervous condition after that.

So now I’m feeling better. Phil and Terri will probably fly out and put their two cats under their seats. Relief for sure.

Then a terrible thought came to mind — what if they weren’t going to take Harriet and Frankie with them? Where would they go?

Granted, these are just rumblings in my head. The truth is none of this is any of my business.

Being the cat lover I am, I couldn’t help myself. This is why I don’t do volunteer work with animal organizations. As much as I would love to, my heart just can’t take it.

As many issues as she had, my mother loved and spoiled her pets. She always had cat food and blankets in her car trunk. If she saw some strays, she was Johnny on the spot.

I so loved her for that. She loved dogs and cats equally. She actually found her little chihuahua, Chu, behind a trash dumpster. She was so attached to Chu.

As Chu aged, Mother placed ramps against certain furniture pieces so Chu could get to those places she could no longer jump to.

Even for those in the veterinarian business and these rescue organizations, it’s heartbreaking work. I realize it can be rewarding, but still.

The sad fact is we just can’t rescue all the animals. It just won’t ever happen.

“A Touch of Magic” — Kent Marshall Photography, San Francisco, California.

Recent Walks

So one day I see there is an Estate Sale at Terri and Phil’s house. Hmm, things are starting to change. It lasted a couple of days.

On another day I see a huge U-Haul truck in their driveway. And then another U-Haul. Later, there was one of those Pod containers.

During this time I never saw Harriet and Frankie. This wasn’t unusual though, but the cats are still on my mind. What’s going on with them during this change?

Then, a week or so later on my walk the first lap around, I noticed Terri and Phil’s mini van looked pretty full and assumed they were packing it up because they were leaving that day. I was right — still no cats in sight.

On my second lap around (I go three times), I saw Phil outside moving things around. He was taking a small piece of furniture to their detached garage.

I waited for him to come back out. I waited for a spell longer then decided to move on.

I’m thinking I really don’t need to know what’s up with the cats. None of my business. I’ll let it go and not even think about it on my next lap.

On my last lap around, the pull was too great. I had to know. I slowly walked down their driveway.

The kitchen door was open. I could see Phil inside. I called for him. I asked about Harriet and Frankie as much as I really didn’t want to.

He said they were not taking the cats with them. I could feel it coming on, the tears — the dam didn’t break. He says they have been trying to find the cats a home with no luck.

They posted requests online. No nibbles. They contacted a bunch of no-kill rescue organizations to no avail. Shelters were full.

A friend of theirs was keeping Harriet and Frankie at his apartment for a few days hoping to find them a home. There was a “cat lady” who watched over a cat colony at the apartment complex where he lived.

They were going to place Harriet and Frankie there. The tears are starting to give way.

Phil said they had taken blankets over. Some sort of pet house I didn’t quite understand. They felt like they had tried as hard as they could, and they had, to find forever homes for Harriet and Frankie.

The bottom line was that the cats were going to live in a cat colony. This seemed so unfair.

Harriet and Frankie started their lives homeless. They finally trusted Phil and Terri enough to take them in, which is no easy task with feral cats.

Harriet and Frankie had five wonderful years of living with two humans who loved them. They had the shelter of an inside where it was cozy and warm. They were fed regularly. They were loved on.

Now they were going to be homeless again. I couldn’t take it. The dam broke, and I turned from Phil, walked back up the driveway, and continued on my walk. Upset and in tears.

It was my own fault I got myself in this state. I just couldn’t leave it be. I just had to be nosy and know the story.

Trying to find an answer

http://www.gahomelesspets.org

When I got home and told Paul the story of Harriet and Frankie, I was a basket case. He understood. I felt so helpless.

I left the den and went to my favorite room, my purple bedroom. I sat in the big blue chair ruminating on the terrible plight of Harriet and Frankie. I decided I had to do something.

I called the pet adoption organization I use and like, Georgia Homeless Pets. I texted and called Sarah that morning. She was in bed with a migraine. It was still kind of early.

Sick as she was (if you’ve ever had a migraine, you’re feeling her pain), she said later she’d send a text to her people and the organization’s Board — can’t ask for more than that.

In the meantime, I went back over to Terri and Phil’s to tell them what I had done. I can’t believe I did this. I never do anything like it. Don’t involve yourself in animal matters — you know what happens.

I was adamant about this though. I would try as best I could to reverse Harriet and Frankie’s fates.

No surprise to me, but I had a hopeful heart, Sarah said their organization didn’t have any openings.

Georgia Homeless Pets is not a bricks and mortar facility. All of their cats are fosters. Sarah and I were sad. She loves all cats just like I do.

Surprise Lilies — our front yard

The Happy Ending

As it turned out, the friend of Terri and Phil’s, who was keeping Harriet and Frankie just a couple of days, had a change of heart. He is keeping them.

No cat colony for Harriet and Frankie and they get to stay together. Thank heavens.

It is thanks to Terri we have this happy ending. She talked with her friend, kind of nudged him along, and worked her magic. You see, he is a cat lover, too. He had a cat before.

As it is with our family pets, when his cat died, the pain was unbearable.

He knew if he took in Harriet and Frankie, at some point the pain would come again. This is why he didn’t, at first, want Harriet and Frankie.

It’s true — our pets can and do break our hearts when they cross over Rainbow Bridge. But homeless pets need us.

All the pets Paul and I have had have come from rough beginnings. That’s why they need our love.

http://www.friendshipapl.org – Rainbow Bridge

Every day I am aware Daisy, Ellie, and Sage will not always be with us. Depending on the degree of thinking, this can be considered anticipatory grief. I experienced it with Bruno.

I’ve finally come to the realization that the pain is worth it, as painful as it is.

Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more. Only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal. (emphasis mine)

C. S. Lewis

To err is human, to purr is feline. — Robert Byrne

Just a little something … tap arrow to play audio.

Thank you so much for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment — about anything!

A Christmas Wish, “May All Your Christmas Dreams Come True!”

8 comments

  1. Loved this story because my husband and I are crazy cat lovers too. We have two and like you, Yvonne, I could never volunteer at an animal shelter. I would either bring them all home or my heart would be broken every time. I can’t even watch those ASPCA TV commercials. So I’m very glad those two kitties found a home. The surprise ending was that the cats found a home other than yours! Not how I expected this story to end. Merry Christmas!

    1. Good morning, my fellow loving cat person. Oh, I so agree with you about the ASPCA commercials … and the music they play does me in. I change the channel or look away and plug my ears. I was tempted for a moment to rescue Harriet and Frankie except having a pet these days is a real luxury $$$. Plus, our cat now does not play well with other cats. I was concerned though. Merry Christmas, Anne! Thank you for reading and your comment. ❤️🎄🎄🎄

  2. Well thank God this story has a happy ending! I know animals have a tender spot in your heart. Love the photo of the cat & the tree!❤️

    1. You’re too funny, Lisa. There is no way I could tell an animal story with an unhappy ending — can’t even envision that. You know me well. I love the photo of the cat and the red ornament. It’s one of my favorites. The photographer let me use it with permission. It’s over 20 years old. I received it years ago in some marketing materials. I just love it. With much love and Merry Christmas to you and yours. 🎄🎄❤️❤️

  3. Oh I hope this email goes through. I rescued a little dog named Goldie. She rescued me right back. I loved her with all my heart and soul. I didn’t know love like that was possible. I didn’t know what bonding was. Goldie was a sick little dog when I adopted her. I didn’t know. I gave her the best last years I could. When she died so did a part of me. I didn’t think I could love like that again. I didn’t think I wanted to. Several years later my sister died. Her little dog was standing by her side protecting her in death. I took her little dog home with me. She has been my best friend through tragedy and joy. I love her whole heartedly. I am leaving her money in my will to ensure she is cared for. When you adopt an animal, you are accepting responsibility for a life. They can’t protect themselves from humans. We don’t get to use them and their loyalty and then dump them when we are through. To do so is dishonorable.

    1. Leah, thank you so much for your story. I remember Goldie but never met her. Animals can bring so many good things to our lives. You’re so right — until I had had Bruno, I never knew you could bond with a cat. I agree with everything you said – and you said it so well. Thank you for reading and leaving such a loving and thoughtful comment. Merry Christmas! Love, me.💋

  4. Awhhhh…another beautiful story, Yvonne. Of course, I’m sure all your readers were eagerly waiting to see whether you and Paul had taken in Harriet and Frankie! Very sweet ending, indeed. Thank you for adding the audio message! Wishing you a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year!

    1. Dear Karen, thank you for your holiday wishes and greeting. I would have loved to have taken in Harriet and Frankie and it was so, so tempting. We already have three animals — five would break the bank. Wonderful hearing from you and appreciate your kind comment. With love ❤️🎄🎄

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