Friday, September 9, 2011


As told in our newsletter, The Scratch, Frankie fell victim to rat poisoning on August 28, 2011. Frankie has been at CatVando since before we were CatVando. Previously owned (with collar) he would come to eat then leave. Then, after being abandoned by his owners, he eventually moved in permanently and spent his last years primarily on the front porch (enclosed with cat door). Frankie was sort of hinky, friendly one minute, teeth on skin the next so whenever any newcomers were expected, they'd hear 'Don't pet the white cat.' Over the years Frankie learned to accept love and often purred at the touch. He became quite a fixture here, following Ellen down the street while she visited neighbors, laying around the stairs and front sidewalk or in the plants in the yard. In 2009, he was joined by Punkin, a new young cat who he took under his paw and they became somewhat inseparable, often seen cuddled together in one of the cat beds or playing out front. Their presence brought joy and light to the front of the house. Now Punkin, who wouldn't even come on the porch for about a week after Frankie died, is alone. Fortunately, she's alive. When she didn't come to the porch, we weren't sure if she sucumed to poison or was just freaked by Frankie's absence.
Frankie was, like many, a special cat. Frankie will go down in cat history not only at CatVando but because he is being used to learn more about the life of feral/stray cats. Frankie's body is being studied by zoological pathology, who team will determine not only the cause of his death but also his life as an outside cat. They will be taking samples from his organs and tissue to better understand the life of outside cats. We believe Frankie would be proud to be part of this, helping other cats like him.
The story............
When Ellen walked out on the porch for morning feed on Friday, 8/26, Frankie was the only cat there but there were large blood drops all over the porch. Because other cats had access to the porch, there was a question about who's blood it was. Within seconds after forming the thought, Frankie went to the litter box and peed blood. Ellen immediately went back to the house to complete the basics of morning care than went to the porch thinking 'Now how am I going to get him into a carrier'. There are open carriers on the porch but mostly inhabited during winter months. When she opened the porch door, there was Frankie, in a carrier, ready to go. It was as though he could read her mind.
Off to Elmhurst Animal Care Center, our vet, he was examined, given Vitamin K (to try and counteract the effects of rat poisoning that strips the bloods ability to clot) and antibiotics for a possible urinary tract infection and sent home with both. He was locked on the porch for the night and next day. He seemed to be doing ok - we didn't spot any more blood on Saturday but then, late in the day, he tried to pee and couldn't. Off to Midwest Animal Emergency (by day, Midwest Exotic Pets) in Elmwood Park. There, they took an x-ray and inserted a catheter in addition giving him Vit K and antibiotics intravenously. More blood than urine was found in the cath bag. He stayed in the hospital that night. Next morning, his cath bag was still filling with blood. At about 3pm, Ellen went to visit. Just prior to the visit, he started having difficulty breathing and was given Lasix, in the event it was non-blood fluid filling his lungs.
As miracles would have it, Stephanie Skrine, Frankie's Armchair Adopter, called. Just so happens she was close by and within 10 minutes she was there, a very welcome presence at such a difficult time and a gift to her being there. After a bit, the vet came out and options were discussed. Lasix wasn't working, blood transfusions could be tried but that would be pretty futile, his body was ravaged by the poison and his blood was probably flowing into all his cavities. Rather than him suffer, we chose euthanization. We saw him for a few moments and called for the vet and the shots. He went quietly hand caressed by both Stephanie & Ellen while he passed. The staff at Midwest was wonderful. Respectful and compassionate. The vet did a post mortem pull of the liquid in his lungs that confirmed blood and added to the suspicion of rat poisoning. He was taken home prior to being picked up by an Officer from CC Animal Control.
Frankie, like so many others, had a good life at CatVando. He is missed. If when you come by, you see a white cat on the property, it's probably not Frankie. Prior to being neutered, Frankie sired Francine. She lives down the block and comes to eat many times a day.
As I said, we think Frankie would be proud to have his body used to document his cause of death and to illuminate scientists about the life of an outside cat that's part of a colony. Frankie's other gift is that he's the first poisoned cat we're taking action on. In the past 6 years, we've lost about more than 20 cats from CatVando colonies to poison. We never reported it because poisoning is difficult to prove and we didn't want to ruffle any feathers in the neighborhood. Frankie was the last straw. We have reported his death to Tom Dart's Office, to Dr. Donna Alexander of Cook County Animal Control and to Maywood Animal Control. We're talking to neighbors. To not report is a mistake. At least with reporting, there's documentation. If your local police don't take this seriously, your County Sheriff and anyone else that will take the complaint.
Animals bear the much of the brunt of today's sickness. Helpless, at our mercy, they suffer at the hands of sociopaths, of those that are abused themselves and feel the need to pass on that abuse, of those who don't get that they are sacred creatures, just like us. Silence perpetuates that behavior. Always report ANY kind of animal abuse immediately. Help those who can't speak for themselves. Help stop any kind of violence - violence against the helpless is violence against all of life.
We're starting a Frankie's Fence Fund to protect our colony of current and future drive by drop offs, or those who just wander in. To contribute, use paypal and indicate the fund is FFF. We're looking for corporate matching funds. We're in the process of getting estimates for cost and will keep you posted.

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