Ask Frank



PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR LATEST ENTRIES Hello everyone! I would like to introduce myself as the most important member of Dr. Mary’s blog.

I am a cat. I’d like to say I’m Mary’s cat, but no one owns a cat. Did you ever hear the sentence: “Dogs have owners, cats have staff?” Well, Mary is here to serve me!  Actually, Mary is my best friend.

Back in March, 2004, Mary and Earl had to put their 20-pound tuxedo cat, Alexander, “Big Al,” to sleep. He was fifteen, and had kidney failure. They were so sad. Al had been a member of Mary’s cat clinic as a demo-cat. This is not a feline political party, it just means that Al had worked in her clinic showing clients how to do procedures on their cats at home.

Al died on March 7, 2004. Mary and Earl do not just replace cats. How can you replace someone who was a part of you life for fifteen years? Personally, I am irreplaceable. Mary gets these feelings sometimes. One day, something told Mary to check out kittens at the Larimer Humane Society.  It wasn’t really kitten season yet, but she wanted to go.

Mary wandered into the cat room. There was her favorite animal control officer, Rick, who gave her a pretend hard time about being there. She saw two littermate kittens in one cage. That was my brother and I. I was the one who came up to her inquiring finger first, but my bro was pretty cute too. So she took us into the playroom where we proceeded to play with every toy in the place. A get out of jail free card to go play-sweet! We were both as adorable as three-month old kittens tend to be. How could she only take one of us? Separate brothers? NO way! She adopted us both. Other than our housemate, Matthew, Mary had never paid for a cat before.

She filled out the paperwork, but missed the kitten deal the last summer of two for the price of one. Bummer. After stopping at a pet supply store to sink two bills into toys and supplies for us, she brought us to our new home. As it happened, that day, March 11, 2004, was Mary and Earl’s 22nd anniversary. Happy anniversary, Earl!

They didn’t really want three cats. They still had Matthew after Al died, and Mary wanted a buddy for him. Matthew got the two of us. What a rowdy crew we are! We didn’t meet Matthew face to face in the beginning. We have a downstairs cat room. It kinda was Matt’s room when he was a new kitten in our home. He still likes to go in there with the door closed to chill out every now and then. He would have to wait awhile to get his special space back. We were isolated from Matt and Tipper the Wonder Husky. They could sniff at the door and know we were there, but we didn’t meet just yet.

We came with mites called “walking dandruff,” or Cheyletiella as the species is called. Mary gave us a bath with some special shampoo when she discovered that she had some bites on her skin where she had a hole in her jeans. The mites don’t live on humans, but they can climb on to get a snack. Guess where the hole on her jeans was! It was OK, because most shelter pets come with either mites or upper respiratory disease. My bro and I didn’t have much of the sniffles, but it was better to isolate us, rather than give the “shelter crud” to the other pets in the house. It was fun in our own cat room. It was much larger than the cage at the shelter. With all the stuff Mary had bought we were in kitty heaven!

A few weeks later we joined the household slowly and supervised by Mary and Earl. We liked the special attention we had in the cat room, but it was time to join the family. Everything worked out surprisingly well. We found out that Tipper really loves cats. Matthew had fun beating up on us, but we overwhelmed him with our charm so that he became our buddy. He definitely is the top cat. He chases us and occasionally bops us with his paw. He and I like to hang out together doing what cats do best-sleeping.

I am a black, long-haired tabby of massive size-16 pounds- a lean, mean feline machine. My brother is also a black tabby, but he is brown on his belly and throughout his coat. He has the longest tail Mary has seen so far. He wags his tail constantly as if he knows how special his tail is. My brother was immediately named Cowboy Joe because he is brown, one of the colors of the University of Wyoming. Earl is such a rabid Wyoming Cowboy fan, that Joe was named instantly after the team mascot.

My name came about a week later. Sometimes it takes awhile to name a cat or dog. Sometimes a cat or dog will tell you what its name is to be. Mary even had a kitten-naming contest in her junior high school science classes. The kids came up with many interesting names but they just didn’t fit me. Mary and Earl always laughed at Frank the pug dog in the movie “Men in Black.” They started calling me Frank. Mary said Franklin would be more dignified. Because I have very furry ears, she gave me her Uncle Irving’s name for my middle name. He had hairy ears, too. I am officially Franklin Irving Carlson the First. Actually, I am also the last because I am, well, um, not able to produce any more Franklins, if you know what I mean. As the “Far Side” cartoon read, I was “tutored.”

So here we are. “Ask Frank” is a place for you to ask questions about cats-behavior, husbandry, medical, etc. I am not a vet, and I can’t diagnose and treat my fellow felines over the Internet, but Mary had a feline-exclusive veterinary practice, and will help me. Bottom line, I can try to answer your questions but the best thing to do if there is a continuing issue with your cat is to consult a veterinarian.

To all the cats out there: If you want to write to me instead of your human servant, I would be happy to answer you cat to cat.

The information for this, my first post, is that adopting a shelter cat is a pretty good deal. For the money Mary paid for us we came to her neutered, leukemia tested, de-wormed, and with our first shot onboard. We also came with a free vet visit, but since Mary used to do these exams for the Humane Society, she did them herself. All cats at the shelter are given this treatment. Some kitties are fostered by people for awhile. The staff makes sure we have personalities that people will enjoy. Joe and I had been surrendered by a family who didn’t have the money to care for us properly. It must have been hard on them to do this, but we respect their decision. Boy, did we hit the jackpot with Mary and Earl!

One more thing. Cowboy Joe and I have this obsession with carrying things around. Our specialty is pens and pencils. We offer them as gifts. One time, Mary and Earl woke up with five pens on the bed, courtesy of our nighttime fun. Another time a workman left his small knife. They found that on the bed. They think every morning is a treasure hunt to see what we did last night. Even the cleaning lady is amazed by our skills. She moved the couch to vacuum and she found twenty-five pens and pencils! We truly are gifted, don’t you think?

Please scroll down for dated posts.

2008  (C) Mary E. Carlson, DVM



Because Mary is writing a book with the same title as her, er, my blog, she was asked (implored, beseeched, put in a headlock) to get on board with social media. She is already familiar with Facebook, but she needed also Twitter (Hey, Mr. President, you and Mom can be besties-not), Tumblr, and Linked In.

Mary has enough idiocy just writing emails. She has three people who help her with social media, but I have a feeling that when they are done meeting with her, they go home gnashing their teeth and eat nails for supper.

At least my mom has her brand under one search option: At least she can spell her own name.


October 22, 2010

Greetings from behind the couch!

Yesterday the cleaners came. Mary is too lazy to clean our house, er, she doesn’t like to vacuum because of her hip. Anyway, she couldn’t find Matt when it was time for kitty fud. She used every call she has in her arsenal of calling kittehs. No Matt.

Mary finally started opening the closets. She told the lady not to open closets because we boys might disappear, and we must all be accounted for later. Mary went through each closet. When the light bulb went off in her head, she opened the one in the horse room where she has a special blanket for us (we are serious blanket cats.) She called out, and heard a faint meow. Yep, Matt was locked in the closet.

When she let him out to get his kitteh fud, he instead came to her and had to tell her all about his experience. She preferred that he go eat, as she really wasn’t feeling well yesterday. She once said she could not go through 3 years of law school eating free pizza and sandwiches. She had three meals this week, all wheat, and she kinda had revenge of the digestive system. She slept all day. She only had 3 classes, and one is on video. That’s pretty cool. It is her toughest class, but her favorite. The professor has it filmed. Mary didn’t want to be vertical if she could avoid it.

Mary will reiterate to the head lady of the cleaners to leave open doors open, and closed doors closed. Hey, let’s get real. One day Mary closed her closet door and I was in there all day. All day. I was a good boy, tho’ and didn’t make a mess. Franklin the polite. I am a gentlekitty.


October 17, 2010

Greetings from the blue couch!

Last Sunday was Mary’s birthday. She is, far and away, the oldest student in law school here in the Hub City. She spent a quiet weekend at home studying in the house enjoying the lovely air coming in the windows.

She has learned not to expect anything so she won’t be disappointed. She got not one recognition of her special day from Dad’s family. That was proof to her that they are officially rid of her. I feel bad for her. Mary’s family is mostly gone, and for a long time. She has Auntie Margo and wacky cousins like my favorite, Auntie Gail, who met me when I was a still a youngster after Mary had her hip replacement, thus bringing to a close her orthopaedic soap opera.

Mary won’t write it herself, but how can a family call themselves Christians when they do nothing for someone in crisis who happened to adore their son, brother, nephew, etc? She was only berated for not cleaning out her home of 28 years as a renter would. When Dad’s mom called her about this, Mary was ill from the stress of our loss, and weighed 90 pounds from that and just having had a ‘procedure’ done. Half the stuff in the house wasn’t even hers. She wonders if she was just the Jew who was there to call the ambulance. I wrote about the “family” before, but I, as the son of a Jewish mother, and am therefore Jewish, recognize that she was never welcome by an anti-Semitic family. I never met Papa Bill, Dad’s Dad, but I hear he was a great guy. Mary had a lot of fun with “Wild Bill.” Cousin Butch, 85, real name Margery after Mary’s Nana, called last weekend to tell Mary that her ex had passed away at 95. Mary wondered if the Carlson family was truly anti-Semitic. Butch said in a nanosecond, “Well of COURSE they are”! Even Mary’s neighbors, our pet sitters say so. Deep in the Bible belt as we are here, even the hard-core Christians know when people are not Christian when they say they are. The end of an era, end of discussion. B’shalom, Carlsons. May you live long lives to remember how you treated the girl our Dad was madly in love with for 36 years.


September 7, 2010

Greetings from the garage!

I have to say that with all Mary has on her plate, she makes time for us cats. Since she is gone most of the day now, Matthew, Cowboy Joe and I concur (I learned this word from Dr. Mary) that she tries extra hard to see that we are happy and active. To say that she keeps us well-fed is a non-issue. Joe bothers her all the time about food. He finally lost the weight he put on while Mary was in Arizona last April riding Scoot and Hannah.

She went to the pet store to buy another bag of kitty fud. She saw a packet of two vinyl-like balls, which she purchased. Impulse buying is not just for the benefit of the human species. She knows how we like to play. My bro, in particular, likes to chase things. He’s been a maniac running after those two balls. When he gets them, his paw bats them away, and the cycle starts over again.

In the mornings before she goes off to school, she plays for a few minutes with us using our ‘kitty tease.’ We 3 each have our own routine, and Matthew doesn’t try to bully us. I go after the thing first, chasing it, and doing some wonderful, half-pipe jumps in the air. Just because I’m so huge, doesn’t mean that I’m fat. I am explosively powerful. I probably have the shortest term of play.

Then it’s Cowboy’s turn. He flips in the air also. When he catches the lure, it’s as though he’s the lion that caught the gazelle. He won’t let go. Mary has to tug on it. Matthew takes his turn. He likes to run after a fast-moving lure. He’s in the best body score condition of all. He is truly a lean, mean, feline machine. Then he goes into the background to see who will play next. When the action slows down, Mary hides our favorite toy (Ha! It’s in the hall closet.) She packs up her stuff and says goodbye.

Mary also fills the bird feeders either the night before or the next morning so we can watch their antics and do the ‘kitty bird chatter.’ Failing that, we always have pens and pencils to carry around for her surprise.


August 26, 2010

Greetings from the bed-aaahhhhh!

Mary snuck up on me at noon. She came home for lunch, which she does to de-stress, eat food that her digestive system won’t object to, and catch a little of her soap. She tevos it, but likes to watch it live. Tuesday, she fell asleep in the chair and awoke with 15 minutes to get to class. She made it, but didn’t have time to retrieve her books. She borrowed a piece of paper, and that was all she needed. But I digress.

I was so comfy on our bed, that Mary got the camera, and put a copy of the Constitution next to me. Photo op! How appropriate for law school. If she had used the old film, she would have run out. She’ll upload them later. Gosh, I’m a learned cat.


August 15, 2010

Greetings from the recliner!

After reading Dr. Mary’s latest post, and having witnessed her frustrations with suitcases and summer school, I wonder if she isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

When she first entered vet school, before I was born and Pruney was in charge of Mary’s mental health, Mary heard a discussion on dairy cows. She listened intently, as there is no greater beverage than chocolate milk. No, she didn’t learn chocolate milk comes from brown cows, but she was surprised to learn that a cow has to have a calf to produce milk. Auntie Margo never lets her forget that. Mary just thought: Cow, milk, grocery store, add chocolate and the constellations are aligned in harmony with the universe.

Fast forward to last weekend, when Mary finished getting her books for the start of law school. Assignments refer to the “case books” for the task. Mary thought she was buying expensive, used text books. These are the case books, one for each doctrinal class, of which there are three for fall semester: Torts, Civil Procedure (Civ Pro) and Contracts. Another “duh” resolved.

She spent three hours today at the law library doing the assignment posted by one professor-Contracts. This was the doctrinal portion of her summer program. I think she goes there so she doesn’t have to leave the AC on. The library, she says, is very cool and pleasant.

I’m proud of my mom that she made the connection. Cows-calf-milk. Courses-text book-case book. Look out school, she’s coming at ya. She already got verbally spanked by one prof for asking a question that will be answered on the syllabus, just like she told her students all would know at once from HER syllabus rather than answer the same question 160 times. Point taken, Sir. At least she’s willing to be the crash dummy and ask questions the others won’t for fear of humiliation. Mary has that t-shirt already. Don’t worry Mom, we cats will get you through 1L.


August 10, 2010

Greetings from the dining room window where the bird feeders are right outside!

Mary is so nice to spend all her spare change on bird seed. there is quite a population of feathered creatures that come to visit. Mary even saw a juvenile (brown) cardinal there. Matthew saw one sort of perched on her window grid and leaped onto the windows. As Mary observed, “Oy!”

I’m not sure, but I think Mary tried to drown me last night. I don’t know why she would do this, I just had a bath on Saturday. Yep, stylin’ again. I can tell how smooth I am by how much my bro hisses at me. He’s been pretty nasty to me. This usually goes away after a couple of days.

I like the sinks in the bathroom and my water bowl. I always have. I like to splash in the sink (whoever said cats don’t like water didn’t know what she was talking about.) I take the full water bowl with my huge, buffed Popeye-esque arm, and pull it all over the cat room. I will jump onto the bathroom countertop. If she is not using the sink, Mary will fill it. I splash and splash.

So late last night, I was pathetically looking into the sink. Mary had turned water on for her bath, and turned on the tap for me. She went to do some chores in the bedroom. Then, she got in the tub. I, Franklin the Brave, flew off the countertop while Mary was carefully shaving her legs. She looked over, and saw water pouring onto the floor. Way to go, Mom! She had forgotten to turn off the water and it spilled over onto the floor. She got out to turn it off (wish I had posted that on YouTube,) and put a whole bunch of towels down. This worked out pretty well. She wasn’t tired, it was late, and one of her to-dos was to match up the towels.

She finished damage control on the floor, finished her bath, and put a load of towels in the washer. She has to sort them tonight, but that’s one check off her list. Mary has a new cleaning service because she doesn’t like to vacuum with her hip. They come twice a month. On Thursday, they will find a clean bathroom floor, courtesy of the overflow. I’m thinkin’ twice next time I ask her to fill the sink for me.


June 13, 2010

Greetings from the house of noxious fumes.

Mary went to San Antonio for a conference, to look for antiques, and to be in a new place for Dad’s one year anniversary, which was yesterday. She had a pretty good time, and will be home later today.

She arranged with Jacob, the painter, to change the color of the kitchen cabinets, which turned out to be fine oak. The blond-washed color really made them hideous. Mary hates blond wood. Jacob took a drawer from the oak rolltop desk and matched it. He had to close off the kitchen, but leave a space for us to go to our cat room. The pet sitter called Mary to say that he couldn’t even stay in the house, the fumes were so bad. He was worried about us cats. Jacob said it was OK, but Johnny and Mary decided to move us to the other side of the house, which closes with a pocket door. We have a box, food and water. Windows are open a little. Texas has dusty winds. Johnny also didn’t want us to mess up the screens. Matthew tore through a Pella window screen in Colorado and cut his ear. Mary made Pella put wire screens up. Pella hates Mary, and vice versa! The a/c was also turned way up. Jacob had turned it off because heat helps cure the finish. Well, we cats are more important than some old wood. She is also getting rid of the last hideous wallpaper that’s in the kitchen. She’s keeping the paper that’s in the dining room, because she likes it, and her grandfather, Bapa, sold wallpaper. She’s sentimental like that.

Jacob thought we were upset because the living room lamp was knocked over and broke. Ha ha! Gotcha, Mary! This lamp was purchased in the 50’s by her parents. She remembers they brought home a black one and a white one-two long, glass lamps that were overpriced 55 years ago. They chose the white one. We nuked it, by golly. Mary is not amused. She took her time driving to San Antonio to find an antique table to put on the other side of the couch for a beautiful colorless glass lamp she bought, a Saxon lamp. She found an Eastlake table with a marble top. Mary likes Eastlake, and has three Eastlake chairs.

Back in Colorado, the other table belonged to the Carlson family. Of course, they gave nothing to Mary. In fact, Mary gave Dad’s sports car to his mom, then she told Mary she lived free for 27 years in the home, she had changed her will with the speed of light, and no one else in the family has called Mary since after Dad died. They didn’t even invite her to Texas for Thanksgiving or Christmas. She had Thanksgiving with her golf buddy and husband, then went on her DC trip. She was alone for Christmas by her choice.

I think she is well-rid of them. She doesn’t need anyone in her life who is toxic. Dad and Poppa Bill, Dad’s father, would be so ashamed of the Carlson women. Who says to a 4 hour widow in the hospital parking lot, “We’re going to dinner. Are you OK getting home?” Who has a church service for a man who always told Mary he did not want one, then accused Mary of talking to the pastor (she did) and having him change the service (he didn’t change it) and then screaming accusations at her in a public restaurant in a city where half the people know her? They probably had another service in Texas and never told her. That’s what they should have done in the first place. Who calls Earl’s Laramie friend that Mary invited to the service and left a message on her answering machine telling her not to come? They went to HS together. Sid helped Mary scatter Dad’s ashes on the football field at Wyoming.

I’m kinda upset with the Carlson family although Mary has decided that you can’t reason with unreasonable people. She didn’t live free. She lived with her husband, who rented the house from his parents because he grew up in it, and stood to inherit half of the estate of his parents. Mary did the repairs-Pella windows, carpet, paint, wallpaper. Earl paid the rent and utilities, but Mary brought the house from an 11 year renter wreck to a local show home. It took them 5 years. Live free indeed.

It was their deal that Mary paid for vacations. They loved Hawaii, and went there eleven times. She paid for the Fort Collins funeral costs when Gram and Bill died within 12 days of each other because Earl’s mom was so upset and she wanted to take the burden off her.

I think the dumbest thing is that, and I know it sounds like a joke, a Rabbi showed up at the back door. He was looking for a house for a shul, and had called the owners of all the houses along their street. The Rabbi told Mary that Mrs. Carlson told him Mary had first rights to buy the house. First she’d heard of that! While she was looking for places to live in Texas, she asked where she stood with the house. She was told it would go to Earl’s sister. Translation-don’t let the door….. When Mary asked about the Rabbi telling her she had first rights to buy the house, she was told that it had slipped her mother-in-law’s mind. Right. Buy that house? No way. Why wasn’t it just given to her to sell to the Rabbi? Now, the Rabbi is putting up with stupid games, and Mary is enjoying Texas for a few years.

Mary also took care of  my dad, who was born with medical problems. She probably saved his live more times than I have claws. He wouldn’t have lived to 57 without her. He was fine most of the time, but when he got sick, it was ICU sick. If Mary hadn’t been there to read his lab work and get on the doctors’ cases, Dad would have bought it much sooner. And through all of this, Mary never thought of Earl as being medically fragile. He was her husband, the love of her live and her best friend ever. She knew what she was signing on for, that she would be a young widow.

Mary saw a sign for sale in an antique shop the other day. It said, “It’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years” by Lincoln. She wanted to buy it, but thought it would make her sad. She will remember it. She heard a quote from a sick man on that show that builds houses for people in need that she sometimes watches. He has ALS, and not much time to live. He said, “If you worry about tomorrow, you miss the joy of today.” Mary wrote that down. She is healing. We cats have helped her so much, especially Matthew, who sticks to her like Velcro.

My mom is a survivor. She has done lots of things in the past year that people aren’t supposed to do in the first year after a major loss, like move. She had to anyway, so she forged ahead. Yes, she is going to school in Texas soon, but she knew when she came home alone from the hospital the day Dad passed, it wasn’t home any more. Her grief has been terrible, but she is starting to feel better. We are relieved that this first year is finished. There will be more visits from the ‘grief monster,’ as Mary calls it, but she will make it.

We cats will help her complete the house before she starts summer school. She still needs a shed, because the garage where we play is too crowded. We are also planning a welcome for the new table and the new glass lamp. Heh, heh, heh.


April 3, 2010

Howdy from my new home. Boy, was I a matted mess. Mary thought I was fat. Well, I AM pleasingly not skinny, and I did gain weight when Mary went to Arizona last month, but she changed our feeding plan with Sue and Johnny, so I’m holding my own.

Mary found a great groomer here, Kristin. She’s really nice, and turned my totally matted suit into a fine Saville Row double breasted suit. See, Mary likes to have me groomed every two months. She always called the lady in the van who came to the house. They don’t have anyone like that here. Too bad, the bucks would pour in. So she took me in the cat carrier. Humph! I put up with it on the drive down here, so I was a good boy.

Because they are busy at Kristin’s, Mary already made my July appointment. When she starts school, I will be picked up and delivered. How about that? I deserve a limo service. Matt and Cowboy will hiss at me even more when they see my ride. The things we do for beauty……


April 26, 2010

Greetings from our home!

Mary continues to ride our equine brother and sister in Tucson. She hopes to get home Wednesday. She is waiting for a truck part. She had a good time in Phoenix, and came back for two rides over the weekend. She has two more, then she’ll drive home. It’s a long drive, and she isn’t looking forward to it.

After she hiked in Sabino Canyon yesterday morning, she called Sue to ask how we were doing. Sue reported how Matthew doesn’t need many pets, but that my bro and I greet them. Funny, I used to hide from strangers and at parties. Dead center under the bed. After six plus years, I come out to check people out and protect Mary. We’ve all had  dreadful two years with Dad being sick and all, so I have stepped up to be a better helper.

Mary hopes to drive home Wednesday, after a truck part comes in. I hope she can do the whole distance in one shot. Fort Collins to here is the same mileage as here to Tucson, but it’s not mostly interstate.

Oh-Sue told Mary how she cleaned all the litter boxes with Clorox and rinse. Mary doesn’t recommend this. We kitties like to smell our own boxes, and if not done correctly, Clorox can burn our feet. Sue did a good job, and we are being good boys.


April 21, 2010

Greetings from the window sill!

Mary continues to ride in Arizona. We are still being cared for by Johnny and Sue. We love them. They pet us, and talk nicely to us, as well as keeping our stuff tidy. Yesterday, Matthew wouldn’t come to greet them when they came in the door. They knew this was unusual, so they went looking for him. They found him snoozing in the family room on a blanket. I think he knew those entering were OK, so he kept sleeping. Matt is a great sleeper, and we all love blankets. Especially Cowboy Joe.

So we continue to be well-behaved, properly cared for, but we want our Mom to come home.

Meow, all y’all.


April 18, 2010

Greetings from outside of the bedroom!

Mary is gone again. She went to see Scooter and Hannah and ride in a place she calls Hell, er, Tucson. We cats don’t have Aunt Nancy and Uncle Tyler to take care of us any more. We have Johnny and Sue, who are professional pet sitters and happen to live across the street.  We are fine. Mary called them yesterday, and was given a good report.

The thing is, the bedroom door is closed. We can’t get in there. We love the bedroom, the  new bed, and the wonderful closet. Tomorrow, the really nice guys are coming to take down the little old lady wallpaper in the bathroom, and do the walls, and paint it blue. Mary already took care of the other bathroom with the really foofy wallpaper, pink and blue flowers and stripes, by painting the white parts the tan color in the wallpaper. It tones down the paper, and what you see is tan. The dining room has pretty paper, and a wonderful view of our back yard. Mary brought some things from back home in Colorado, and she will put the bird feeders up soon. She was so happy to learn that there are cardinals here.  The remaining wallpaper is in the kitchen. Mary loves the layout of the kitchen, but does not like blond cabinets or the wallpaper. I think she’ll wait awhile on that.

I guess we have to wait until she gets back to go play in the bedroom. And, so you should know, I have come out of my shell with strangers. I greet them just as Cowboy and Matt do. John and Sue told Mary they’d never seen such friendly cats that come to greet strangers. What they don’t know that lurking behind our friendly exterior behavior are feline maniacs which will protect Mary at all costs.


April 7, 2010

Greetings from the closet!

I have been so loud in the morning that Mary is not amused. We are used to eating early. I want my kitty fud. So I either stand outside the master bedroom or jump on the bed and meow at a decibel level like the Concorde. Mary is not amused. First, she is tired from unpacking a million boxs, and with our town being on the western end of the central time zone, it is still dark at 8am. This will be good when she starts school, just as she went to work teaching school in the dark, but for now, she likes to listen to the news. Plus, she has a new bed that is very comfortable for all of us. Mary can sleep on her repaired hip side, and it never hurts.

We cats have, like most pets, a finely-tuned stomach clock. The others have gotten used to the time change, but I, Franklin the Great, want my food! When Mary feeds us, I spend five minutes eating which never ceases to annoy her. We’ll all adjust, we’ve only been here for a little over three weeks.


April 4, 2010

Greetings from my hiding place!

I have a new hiding place. To Mary, it’s somewhere under the table or couch in our family room. She calls me and I don’t come. She can’t, due to her hip, get into position to look, so she just has to wait. If the garage door is open from the inside so we can play, she has to use the truck to go anywhere. I did once fly into the garage as she was opening the door (she’s never had an automatic door before,) and there I was. She had to herd me back into the house. I’ve never been outside without being in an enclosure, and she doesn’t want to lose me, the most important felid in the world!

Anyway, when I come out of my hiding place, my fur is in quite a state of disarray. Mary and Earl used to tease me about my suit being rumpled. I smooth out eventually.

I last had a bath in Colorado on March 10, and Mary is trying to find a mobile groomer like I had. So far, no luck. She figures I’d be more stressed to go into the carrier and would come back soiled, if you know what I mean…

We cats love the windows here-they are low enough and the sills wide enough to sit and look out the window at the birds. Texans don’t open their windows, but Mary isn’t a Texan, yet. She is so happy about the birds. There are Cardinals, Mourning Doves-a different sound than in Illinois where she grew up-these sound just like Hawai’i. She bought a Texas bird book this morning, and was amazed at all the birds she can find. She loves the Mockingbirds, and even likes the Grackles. She and Nana Carol hated grackles in Chicago, but these are the boat-tailed variety, and are very pretty. They still perch high up waiting to do a mischief on Mary’s head.

The weather is warm, we are comfortable, and even like the pet sitters that will come when she is traveling. We miss Aunt Nancy and Uncle Tyler, but we do like Sue and John, and they just live across the street.

We cats are happy Mary is starting to relax a little from all the stress of the last year and a half. She only has twenty more boxes to unpack and hopefully sell, so she can make room for her beloved happy, fun car that comes down next month.

Happy Easter from your big, cuddly Easter cat.


April 2, 2010

Greetings from the garage!

I now live in a place called Texas. Mary packed me and my bros in her Sub and took us with our Uncle Jeff on a really long ride. None of us except Matt had even been out of our Colorado home since Mary brought us home from the shelter.

She had been traveling a lot. She said to look for a new home. She was missing Dad pretty bad, but she needed to leave for something called law school. So, she put the carriers in the dining room for weeks. She thought I would be the worst traveler. She was thrilled when she was eating and saw me go in a carrier and hang out. She was also thrilled that I fit.

She and Jeff hit the road early on March 14. We three were snug and loud in the carriers that Mary’s friends had helped arrange. We quieted down after awhile. Mary used to counsel cat owners on traveling with cats, and prescribed tranqs for them, the cats, that is. She stopped by Dr. John’s clinic, formerly Dad’s, and the receptionist gave her a homeopathic calming medication that was chewable. The only one who would try one was myself. It was tasty all right, but I puked all over the house. Mary would probably be the only one tranquilized.

She and Jeff opened the doors to the carriers south of Colorado Springs. We made our way to places where we would be comfy. Matt chose the kitty litter box, where he remained the entire trip. Cowboy stayed in the carrier. Turns out he had thrown up sometime before. I found a nice place on Mary’s computer case.

Eventually, while Jeff drove through New Mexico, I climbed into Mary’s lap for awhile. Then I went back to the computer case. Matt wouldn’t budge. Good thing no one had to use the box.

I think Cowboy didn’t feel so well during the trip. He was panting and breathing pretty fast. Mary was worried about my bro. At Amarillo, she and Jeff traded driving for the last time before coming to our new home. Picture Jeff, a large, gentle giant, taking Cowboy Joe in his arms and cradling him for two hours until we got home. It was the sweetest picture.

Mary didn’t make us come into our new house, which she had set up for us a couple of weeks earlier when the movers left. She just closed the garage door and left the car doors open. We got out as we chose. She had boxes and water in the garage, and the cat/utility room. She closed the door between the cat room and the kitchen. We would sleep there that first night. She eventually fed us, making sure our tummies weren’t upset.

We did come out of the garage. Joe and I were fine, but Matt was hissing at anything. He is a tough guy, remember. The next day, we started exploring our new home piece by piece. Mary had set up the family room just like home. And, the best part, her closet is huge, dark, and wraps around the bathtub. It has two doors, and lights that go on automatically. Kitty heaven. I meow so she’ll open the door. We also like to play in the garage. Mary has to be careful to know when we are in there so she doesn’t open the door. She may end this fun for us and build us a screen porch like we had in Colorado.

All in all, I am proud of how well I traveled and adapted to my new home. Come visit, you’ll love sitting on the window sills. Meow, y’all.


December 12, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

Boy, it’s been cold here. It has finally warmed up to the 30s. Mary, although pining for them, is glad she sent Scooter and Hannah to Auntie Margo where it’s warm and dry. Mary had a nice trip to settle them in last month.

Today marks six months since Dad passed away. We cats live in the moment, but Mary doesn’t. It’s pretty quiet around here. She says we are moving to a place called Texas, but I have never left this house since we were adopted by our Mom and Dad for their 22nd anniversary. I’ll have to travel. I don’t even like to go out to the grooming van for my baths.

We are all glad Cousin Jeanne is getting some good medical care in Highland Park. Mary was worried about her. She and Auntie Margo made some phone calls that really ticked off some family members, but Mary doesn’t care as long as Jeanne isn’t allowed to be ignored by her doctors and die. That’s what happened to Mary’s mom almost 31 years ago.

We cats are the only animals left right now, and we will watch over Mary today. She doesn’t feel that great, and it’s a sad day. She doesn’t need people being angry with her today. She said she ordered some special lights for winter, but I don’t understand what that means.

Oh, as I write another post, I just wanted you to know that Cousin Jeanne passed away Jan. 24. She had a short but serious illness, and was 80. The University of Chicago helped her, but in the end,  she chose to pass. Mary misses her cousin. Jeanne’s kids are Mary’s good friends. She had a first cousin 80 years old because Mary’s father was a surprise. He was eleven when his Jeanne was born, and delivered all my cousins after he became an obstetrician. In fact, he was a wonderful doctor according to Mary, but he knew how to really tick people off. Most of Mary’s cousins, children of his nieces and nephew, were girls. His nephew, Cousin Jim, had a surprise baby about ten years after the girls were born. When bringing Cousin Peter out to Jimmy, Grampa Mike said to Jimmy, “Here’s your baby.” Jimmy opened the blanket to find the baby upside down so the head wasn’t what he saw first. He’s still mad at Mike for this after 40 years! And Grampa Mike has been gone for thirteen years. All right all ready.


July 26, 2009

Greetings from the porch!

We cats knew Marcie, whom Mary posted about yesterday. Joe and I were six months old. We don’t go outside, but could always hear Marcie scream for her food, and scream every morning at 4 o’clock. She just did that. She had a very high-pitched, loud whinny. Mary was afraid neighbors would complain, but they think horses are better than more drunk college students.

I want to talk about the number, 27. Mary had mentioned that she and Dad had Marcie for 27 of her 30 years. Well, Earl and Mary were married for 27 years. Aunt Natalie was killed 27 years ago, in 1981,  at the age of 27. Right after Nana Carol died, Mary turned 27 later that year. Being a cat, I can’t fathom what that means. It doesn’t bother Mary. She’s not worried about the little details.


June 30, 2009,

Greetings from the screen porch!

Mary will write later about Scooter’s bout at the vet hospital and trip later today (again!) to Barb’s rehab barn with Hannah.

Mary and Tux the stray cat have been developing more of a relationship. Usually, the neighbor gives Tux some food. However, Mary has been giving him some of Tipper’s food. She needs to use it up, and she tries to head off Tux so he doesn’t come to the door and set Matthew off on a peeing spree in the house.

Tux is afraid of the foxes. I don’t blame him. I would be a tasty morsel for them. This morning, Mary woke at 4 to the foxes screaming. It really sounds like a woman is being attacked. Tux now comes out of the barn every morning to meet Mary. Often, Mary found him on the soft top of her beloved antique 450SL. She doesn’t like that. He has been sleeping on the hay lately. Mary does like that. As a fellow cat, I know he is there for another reason. Dad always said, “There’s nothing like a purring cat on the bed.” Well, you have one, Dad.


June 20, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

Mary wrote about her day with the horses at the VTH on Thursday. What she did not mention was there was a message from the funeral home when she got home that said, “Everything was ready.” She went to pick up the death certificates for Dad as well as his ashes. She chatted with the funeral director, Jennifer, for a long time. Mary said the whole process was simple and straightforward. Whew!

She has been in touch with a friend of Dad’s to scatter his ashes in a place he considered a personal shrine. Mary’s is Wrigley Field, but that comes under the heading of no way when her time comes. Earl’s friend said not to ask permission, as it is easier to ask forgiveness later. Wonder how she will look in an orange jumpsuit. Do they make them extra small? Will the chicks in cellblock C pass her around for a carton of smokes?

Anyway, in the meantime, Dad’s ashes are where Mary thinks he would like to be if he were still here. She put them carefully wrapped in the barn on top of the hay! At least she can chuckle in the face of her new status as a single animal parent. It still is pretty tough, but we are all looking forward to the open house for Dad next week. All but myself, that is. I intend to hide under their bed dead center where no one’s arms could reach for me.


June 16, 2009

Greetings from my sad home.

Dad passed away Friday. It’s so sad. I saw him for about twelve hours when he came home from the hospital on June 4th. Then he had to go back by ambulance.

Mary says it was a pretty complicated case and hard to explain to non-medical humans. All I know is that my Dad is gone. I won’t be able to watch over him.

I know that he is in Heaven riding Marcie, and running with Keli and Tipper. Tipper went ahead of him by ten days to be ready to greet him, I guess.

On Sundays, Matthew “reads” the paper with Mary. He gets on her lap and puts his chest on the paper. They read it together. This morning, a Tuesday, the obituary was in the paper. Matthew kept putting his paw on it to touch it over and over. Mary had never seen anything like that. Matthew kinda guards Mary, so he is always with her when she is in the house, even with all the company.

Dad was a brave man who went through a lot in his life. He has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, where I am sure he was met by the many animals that loved him.

Here is Dad’s obituary.


June 3, 2009

Greetings from the new bedspread!

Tipper was peacefully released yesterday morning by Mary and Dr. John Mulnix, Tipper’s personal physician. Mary went to the hospital afterward to be with Earl, and came home to sleep. She was exhausted. All three of us were on the bed with her.

Matthew was Tipper’s best friend, other than Mary and Earl, and vice versa. People often think we cats are aloof and unfeeling, but you need to know about our tough top cat, Matthew. Matthew was with Tipper, Mary and John throughout the entire procedure that sent Tipper to the Rainbow Bridge. He never left. Joe and I respectfully stayed away.

Even after Tipper was dead, Matthew stayed around to sniff her and let Mary and John pet him. He was seriously grieving for his dog buddy.

Later, before she went to see Dad in the hospital, Mary was writing down her feelings. Matthew wouldn’t get off her lap. She was typing over a solidly muscled orange boy. She had to pet and hold him. He was sad.

We cats know grief. We know how to feel, and how to nurture our human pals. We kept a close eye on Mary yesterday, and will do so today, and in the tough time of grief to follow. Cats care.


June 1, 2009

Greetings from Earl’s bedside.

Dad came home on the 31st. He was really sick, and still has a long way to go. We three cats have a lot to deal with. We must supervise Dad’s rest, and take care of Tipper.

You wouldn’t think cats would take care of a dog, particularly a dying dog, but we do. As I mentioned before, she took care of all three of us when we were kittens. Now, we pay it back to her.

Mary is feeding her whatever she will eat. Fancy Feast cat food, Cesar dog food, eggs, biscuits coated with peanut butter, and a Tramadol at night.

While it is difficult for Mary to do this knowing that Tipper will be in Heaven before July, we all consider it an honor and a privilege to care for our doggie friend. She is very patient with us, even when we sniff her food.  Mary and Earl have a lot going on right now, and anything we cats can do to help is our very great pleasure.


May 24, 2009

Greetings from Earl’s bedside.

Mary and Earl are so upset about Tipper. Matt, Joe and I know that. The Wonder Husky had a pretty good day today, but we all know what’s coming.

We cats are pretty upset. We are going to lose our dog buddy. Tipper took care of all us cats when we were kittens. She never was possessive over her food, even now, when she eats her A/D cans and unlimited biscuits. Cowboy Joe hangs out with her, eating what she drops. Mary feeds her with a tongue blade, which the pup has always loved. It’s the least Mary can do. She has always loved feeding and watching animals eat. She especially loves aged pets.

Cats know what’s going on. We can tell the future. Mary is going away for July and part of August, and our dog pal will be gone.

I’m glad that Mary and Earl won’t let our canine pal suffer. They are keeping enthusiastic with Tipper, and try to make her feel upbeat for as long as they can.

Cats get sad too, you know.


April 26, 2009

Greetings from Mary and Earl’s bed!

Dad came home yesterday and has been sleeping a lot ever since. He is not alone for a minute. I, Franklin Irving Carlson, CFNA, certified feline nursing assistant, am keeping watch over Earl. He got home at 12:30. It was tough for him to come up the stairs to me, but he made it. After 5 days in the hospital, he was glad to be able to rest. He is sleeping. I am pretending to sleep on Mary’s side where she turns the covers back for me. I am really checking on Earl.

Mary comes up to check on Earl every hour or so, but I am responsible for his care. He just wants to rest.

So far, no cancer anywhere. The fluid they took for analysis yesterday showed no cancer. The liver sample won’t come back for awhile. There may be something in the liver related to his years of anti-rejection drugs. Right now, Mary says, he has to realize that he has had a bigtime surgery and needs to recover.

I remember when Mary got home from her trauma surgery and 6 days in the hospital. She came in on her new crutches, sat down at the table, picked me up and cried her eyes out. I was only six months old, but that was the beginning of my career as a CFNA. It’s stressful to be hospitalized, then come home and the body lets go.

So, I’m sticking by my dad’s side.


April 16, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

I would like to welcome Bo to the Obama family as the First Dog. He’s pretty cute, as far as a dog can be cute.

While the Presidential families typically keep the kids sheltered from the press, I think pics of Bo should be put online from time to time.

Mary is always concerned when a purebred dog becomes famous. When ‘101 Dalmations’ was remade, everyone wanted a Dal. They, in Mary’s opinion, are horrible dogs, although Uncle Jerry in Texas has a nice one-his “precious spotted baby.” People got a record number of Dals, found out they are big, strong dogs that are difficult to train, and a lot of them were surrendered to shelters or rescues.

Next, Mary was concerned with people getting Huskies after ‘Snow Dogs’ came out. Mary has the movie, made by a guy she went to school with from K-12, and laughs every time she watches it. Huskies are difficult to have unless strictly and consistently trained throughout their lives.

She is less concerned with the soon to come rush on Portuguese Water Dogs. These beautiful pups are easier to train, and very compliant to being with humans.

IMHO (do you like my text abbreviation? I can’t even text-no opposable thumbs,) a shelter dog needs a home pretty much more than a purebred. Check out your local shelter. That’s how Mary found the three of us cats. She went to look. She adopted us.

Bo, best of luck, my friend. I wonder which Secret Service agent is in the doghouse and is assigned to guard you! Pun intended.

Oh gosh, I’m in trouble! This morning, Earl was chillin’ in bed when the admit nurse of the hospital called for a phone conference. I jumped on the bed right on his tummy! I can’t do that after Monday-that’s where he will have his incisions. He doesn’t need 17 pounds of me landing on a sore site. Mary and Earl laughed and laughed at me, but I have to practice not doing that.


April 5, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

Mary mentioned that Dad didn’t dodge the cancer bullet. He has some major surgery coming up soon. Mary will talk about that soon. Here is how I will help: You know how Mary has laughed at me spending all my time on her side of the bed? Well, OK! She teases me that I am bedridden, but I am not. I sleep at night on the mat in front of the bath tub. In fact, if she gets up in the middle of the night, she has to swerve to avoid me. I come on the bed to be cuddled and purr.

Mary always says that the sign of a really good cat is that they are with you when you are not well. That includes Mary’s migraines, and Earl’s naps. My plan is to remain at Earl’s side as he recovers from his surgery later this month. I will be on Mary’s side of the bed-she keeps her covers turned down for me-and I will rest against her pillows. She doesn’t mind the kitty fur on the pillow. I will be a feline nursing assistant. Earl will be fine, and never alone, I promise.

This is one way I can be Franklin, Hall of Fame cat. And, I work for food!


March 28, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

Mary and Earl were in Orlando in January. They walked around the Disney Market Place. Mary found a book that had her in hysterics, “I Can Has Cheezburger?” She bought it, read it and then sent it to her cousin, Jamie, a second year med student at Tulane. She thinks Jaymerz needs all the laughs she can get. Jamie is currently sharing it with her classmates.

Mary was reading USA Today on her Kindle (to which she is seriously addicted-I guess addiction to reading isn’t so bad,) and saw how blogs are getting noticed by publishers who offer book deals. I Can Has Cheezburger? turns out to be one blog that got a book deal, hence the book that had Mary rolling around on the floor like a moron. She bookmarked the site, and looks at it often.

Mary is easily amused. She also likes to go to YouTube and type in Siberian Husky-Gwen Stefani, so she can hear Huskies howling to a song played often at her Pilates class. Rote imbecility if you ask me.

Go to I have to admit that if a cat is to be undignified, it might as well be funny!


March 26, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

Mary talked yesterday about how Earl turned the laundry basket over on me, and I walked around moving the basket. I’m a regular laugh riot.

I do a lot of funny things. I like water. In the morning, I like to drink out of Tipper’s water dish. I have such buffed arms, I like to pull the bowl so it gets to the place on the floor where Mary and Earl can trip over it. Meeeoooowww! Shoot one for Frank!

I also like to play Buddha when Earl sits on the couch. I sit next to the back of the couch with my side on it, then sink down. You could rub my tummy for luck.

Mary found a way to groom me daily while she multitasks. Hint: it’s in the bathroom. She keeps a brush by the ‘throne.’

More later. I’m so great!


March 6, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

Mary neglected to say what became of Earl the Kitten. Ashley graduated, and found a job with MTV in New York City. She took Earl with her. From Fort Fun to the Big Apple. Rock on, Earl!


February 26, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

Hurray for the Obama family! The have decided on what type of dog to get- a Portuguese water dog. Congratulations on their choice. Portuguese water dogs are wonderful pups.

Yes, they are purebred, but the Obamas want to get one from a rescue. Not the much talked-about mutt (as the President said he is, that was a funny) from the pound, but a purebred dog.

The middle ground is the purebred dog will come from a rescue that saves unwanted Portuguese water dogs.

While Mary and Earl have had two Siberian Huskies during their 27 years of marriage, Mary likes water dogs. They are friendly and kind, quiet and gentle. They are smart, good-looking and did I already mention friendly? Sure sounds like me!

Tipper’s puppy trainer, “Auntie” Gail Clark, author of The Mentally Sound Dog, has water dogs. She shows them and usually wins. Gail was quoted in the paper, “ If called upon, I will serve.” Good for Auntie Gail! The paper suggested the Obamas go to her website,

I hope the Obamas love their new dog, but they really need a cat.  I hereby volunteer to serve my country as First Cat, should my Commander in Chief call me into White House duty. With all the baths I am subjected to, I don’t think Malia would have allergies with me!

Hey! Did I tell you that Dr. Mary is going to the White House in the near future, and will meet the President of the United States? Really! I’ll let her write about it when the time comes. A sneak hint. Check out the Baldrige Award winners for 2008.


February 15, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

I found a great new way to sleep. Mary likes it too. In the past, I’ve done this only when Mary is hanging out on the bed to watch a movie or something. Now, I sleep like this at night. Here is what I do: I plop down on her right side and curl up with my head on her pillow. Sometimes she turns over and hugs me. She likes to kiss my nose. I purr so loudly that it offsets any annoyance she may have at cat fur on her pillow. She once woke up because I was purring so loudly. I kinda sound like a squeeky gate. Well, Earl was petting me. So yes, I sleep between them. Hmmm. That could be a reason why they only have pets.

In the past, Matthew would curl up in the small kitty cup they have in between their pillows, or he would go under the covers. For some reason, he lets me sleep next to Mary. I like that. So does she.

Oh, speaking of fur. Mary had a lot of employees in the cat clinic. One was not the sharpest claw in the paw, if you know what I mean. In the legal, medical records, she would write, phurr. Um, well, if I had opposable thumbs, I bet I could write the word, fur. Duh.


February 6, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

My reprieve ended, and I had my bath Monday. Boy, am I clean and shiny. Dandruff gone, coat lookin’ stylin’. I only had to endure a few hisses from my brothers. They do this every  time I get a bath. I smell different from them, so they hiss as if they don’t know me. I am still Franklin Irving Carlson, just a whole lot cleaner and neater.

While I was in C.J.’s van, she told me why she had to delay my bath. She had to put her 28 year-old horse down. It was very sad. The vet came out and performed the procedure, then C.J. buried her beloved companion on her property. She hurt so bad, but she knows she made the right decision.

I know that when my time comes, I will be taken care of. I am so loved, that I never have to worry about food, water, shelter and love. If I get sick, I will be treated. If I cannot be treated, I will be taken care of. My humans love me enough to say goodbye when it is in my best interest.

I am only five years old, so I have a long life ahead of me. I am secure in the knowledge that I am a wanted, loved part of the Universe.


January 28, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

I get my bath tomorrow. Oh no, save me! Mary has an appointment with C.J. to come over here and clean me up. It’s not fair! Why am I the only one?

I have a beautiful, long haired coat just like my brother. Cowboy Joe never needs a bath. He is as perfect as the day is long. Why me? Well, I just get rumpled up. I get dandruff, my fur clumps and I get mats. When Mary notices a “smell” from my most private area, it’s time for a bath.

Mary says I just have an oilier coat than my brother. It needs maintenance. But I dread the coming of C.J, who is really my friend. Mary and Earl put us all in the downstairs cat room. But I know what’s going on! I try to hide under the treadmill, but I can only get under it to my shoulders. So there is my big rear sticking out from under the treadmill.

The real trauma is afterward, when I come back into the house. I hide for a few hours to show some attitude, then I come out as a stylin’ guy. Matthew and Cowboy Joe hiss at me for a couple of days. Can you believe it? Mary says it is because I don’t smell like my normal self, but I think they are just plain jealous.


December 23, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup. The birds are active at the feeders, but I will get to work now.

Mary talked about prairie dogs yesterday. I would like to add some information because many people are unreasonably afraid of prairie dogs. They think that prairie dogs carry bubonic plague. They are only partially correct.

First of all, bubonic plague is an incorrect term for the disease called plague. Historically, plague is very cool. Did you know that the first biological warfare occurred in the Crusades when the infected bodies plague victims were catapulted over to the enemy?

Plague is a vector-borne disease. That is, it takes a carrier, in this case a flea, to suck blood from an infected organism, such as rats in the 17th century, and bite a healthy animal (humans included) and infect it. Prairie dogs don’t carry plague. They carry the infected fleas that bite victims.

Of course, Mary is helping me with all this. Plague is interesting to me because cats are more susceptible to plague than other animals. When Mary sees a cat with an abscessed lymph node in the jaw area in the summer, she automatically sends a sample to the county health department.

Plague is treatable with antibiotics if caught early. Mary knows vets who have individually had all four types of plague: bubonic, which is the mildest form and the easiest to treat; septicemic, which is blood infection; meningeal, which is the rarest form, and pneumonic, the deadliest form that was responsible for wiping out the population of Europe back in the day. Mary got interested in studying plague when a vet in a nearby town had plague, and nearly died after exposing 250 people. The hospital never considered it, even though the front range of Colorado is plague central. Mary spent a summer at the CDC researching plague and published a paper. She also gave a presentation on it at an American Association of Feline Practitioners meeting. Mary also wrote a very scientific paper to be published by the CDC but the staff had to leave for a pneumonic plague outbreak in India shortly after her time at the CDC. So she wrote the second paper. It was sent all around the world to scientists who asked for a copy. Mary saved their postcards that all wrote, “Dear Sir.” She thought that was funny.

Since Mary taught JHS science for a long time, and her school held a Madrigal Dinner every year, she would give a talk to the honors English students about plague. She met the vet who recovered, and brought her along to discuss her case. Mary shortened her talk, and then introduced Pamela and told them why she was there. You have never seen a crowd of junior high students so silent!

Mary said she would write about another cool plague story. Watch for it soon.


January 7, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

Mary has been a member of the Cornell University Feline Health Center for about twenty years or so. I’m a cat, I can’t count, OK? You can become a member. The Center has regular publications. There is one for veterinarians, and one for all the lay people out there who love to learn more about cats. One of the best books on cat advice is the Cornell Book of Cats, which can be found in many place. Dr. Mordecai Siegal is the original editor of this excellent source of information.


January 4, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

Since winter is in full swing here in the Mountain West, I’d like to discuss cats’ love for heat. We have radiators in our house, which is Mary’s favorite thing about this 120-year-old dump. That and the ghost of Earl’s great-grandfather.

Mary and Earl had a cat, Fletcher, who was with them for 13 years. Mary got him from CSU, where she was working in the anesthesiology department at the hospital. Mary had recently lost Pruney, the cat love of her life, and had lost a new kitten from CSU to distemper. She was unsure about committing to another shelter kitten.

When Mary walked into the cat room, a huge, long haired orange boy about six months-old stuck a huge, slab-like paw out of the cage. She asked the technician who he was. Lynda told him that he had just come down from the Cheyenne shelter to be neutered by students and returned. She said, “I’ve been saving him for you.”

The rest is history. Mary waited two weeks for Fletcher to be rid of the shelter crud and for time to pass to see if distemper would affect him.

After a particularly tough day on the job, Mary said she was taking him home. It was time. She didn’t wait to have him neutered, but did it herself on the kitchen table after he had settled in.

There are many funny Fletcher stories, such as “The cat who would not stay buried.” He also was the “school cat” at Mary’s JHS. He even is on the faculty page of the 1995 yearbook. But we are talking about radiators. In winter our radiators are really hot. You could fry an egg on one if it wouldn’t slip down to the carpet. Fletcher was one of those cats that would lie full on his side on the most burning hot radiator. When he arose, his skin did not fall off, but he sure was warm for cuddling. As I said, cats are hot!


December 29, 2008

Greetings from the kitty cup!

This recipe is sure to be a holiday party hit. Or, it will totally gross everyone out and you can call it a night.


-1 German chocolate cake mix

-1 white cake mix

-1 package white sandwich cookies

-1 large package vanilla instant pudding mix

– green food coloring

-12 small Tootsie Rolls

-1 NEW kitty litter box,

-1 NEW kitty litter box plastic liner

-1 NEW kitty box scooper


*Prepare cake mixes and bake according to directions. *Prepare pudding mix and chill until assembly.

*Crumble white sandwich cookies in small batches in blender. Scrape often, as they tend to stick. Set aside all but ¼ cup.

*To the ¼ cup cookie crumbs, add a few drops green food coloring using a fork to mix.

*Crumble cooled cakes into large bowl. Toss with half of the remaining white cookie crumbs and the chilled pudding. *Mix with the cake and feel it. You don’t want it soggy, just moist. Gently combine.

*Line new, clean kitty litter box. Put mixture into box.

*Put a few unwrapped Tootsie Rolls on a dish and microwave until soft and pliable. Mix gently into cake mixture.

*Sprinkle the other half of cookie crumbs over top of cake.

*Scatter green cookie crumbs lightly over top so it looks like the chlorophyll in kitty litter.

*Heat remaining Tootsie Rolls. Shape the ends so they are not blunt.

*Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle with cookie crumbs.

*Leave a few Tootsie Rolls uncovered with “litter”.

*Place the cake pan on newspaper. Sprinkle a few cookie crumbs on the newspaper. Serve kitty litter cake with a NEW pooper scooper.



December 28, 2008

Greetings from the kitty cup!

Mary arrived home safely from Chicago last night. I sure missed her. Earl told Mary all the animals missed her, but it was Matthew, the tough guy, who kept looking for her.

Matthew always plays the role of the top cat, but he really, really looks out for our family. He goes to the door when someone is there. He supervises any workers in the house. Things like that.

When Mary came in last night, Matthew was all over her. Of course, we all helped her unpack. He followed her upstairs and never left her side.

He crawled under the sheets, which he likes to do, and instead of keeping Mary awake by putting his paws in her side, they slept back to back. In the morning, I usually cuddle up with Mary on her right side with my head on the pillow purring loudly. This morning, Matthew was there. I didn’t dare make him move. He would have beaten me up. I waited with Cowboy Joe on the bed so I could get my pets.

People who don’t like cats think we have no emotions. Wrong! We cats feel loss and emotional pain just like any other living creature. We feel empty when our humans are not here, we grieve for our animal friends when they die, and we can tell when humans feel bad themselves. Cats have a unique radar that can be read by someone willing to care.


December 26, 2009

Greetings from the kitty cup!

Mary returns tomorrow from Chicago, whatever Chicago is. She has continuing education at CSU the weekend of the 10th, then she goes to Florida on the 14th. Our friend, Nancy, will take care of us kitties. The horses and the dog go to some spa.

I tend to be a scardy-cat when strangers come to the house. I hide until I have observed the stranger for a while. I love Valerie, the cleaning lady, and Wade, the painter. When Wade painted the inside of the house two years ago, it was my job to supervise. Usually Cowboy Joe does this, but his tail kept getting in the way.

The real watch-animal in the house is Matthew. He hears every knock on the door. He stays with strangers who come in. He is very protective of Mary.

Oh, hey! Mary had Christmas dinner at cousin Jeanne’s house last night. The meal was a feast of butternut squash soup, salad, sirloin roast with potatoes and beans, and a to die for dessert of chocolate cake, ice cream and homemade fudge sauce. Wow! Mary said what the heck, migraines be darned. She ate it all. Plus some of the Fannie May she got the day before. She ate Gail’s stash, not her own. Anyone want to volunteer to lift her suitcase tomorrow?

I think I am up for a bath soon. Mary will call C.J. upon her return to schedule something for after Florida. I like my rumpled look. HELP!!!!


December 24, 2008

Greetings from the lonely kitty cup.

Where’s Mary? Haven’t seen her for two days? I don’t get it!

We cats get upset whenever there are changes in the household. We do not like change! Oh, Earl just told me she went to Chicago for a few days. I wondered what was up when the big, zippered thing was on the floor. I like to jump in and out of it, but Mary put some of her rags in there. It’s as gone as Mary is.

She left the corner of her bed turned down. I like to climb in there and snooze with Earl. At least she left me my special space. I hope she comes back and fills it up soon.

Cats, as I said, do not like change. If you take your cat to the vet, pulling out the carrier at the last minute makes us dive for cover. Take it out a few days in advance so we can explore it just as we would a cardboard box. We like our carriers; one is left on the floor in the cat room at all times.

One time, Mary was visiting her friend Jean in Scottsdale. Mary put her laundry on the bathroom floor. She noticed a smell. One of Jean’s cats marked its territory on the laundry. Message received. The laundry was washed, and Mary’s belongings were moved to a safe place.

Cats don’t like change. Come home, Mary.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


December 21, 2008

Greetings from the kitty cup!

I would like to add to Mary’s story about my dog friend, Tipper, getting loose in a blizzard. Mary told me this story one night when I was on her lap getting brushed.

Mary and Earl are only on the second dog of their marriage. They have been married nearly 27 years. They got their first dog, a Siberian Husky named Kelani, because Earl worked nights, and Mary liked to run at night.  Those “Killer Dogs of the Frozen North” sure look vicious, but they really are mush dogs. You know, if a burglar came to the back door, a Husky would say, “May I hold your flashlight, Sir?”  “Allow me to show you the silver.” But I digress.

Keli came home at the age of seven weeks, 10 months after they were married. Tipper is Keli’s cousin, and was born 14 years after Keli. Tipper learned from Keli until Keli died the summer of 1997.

Anyway, when Keli was a pup, she would be tied to the tree in the back yard by a horse lunge line whenever Mary or Earl worked in the yard or barn. They called it sunbathing. “Want to sunbathe, Keli?” “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Woooo!” Tipper is the same. By the way, dogs should only be tethered when supervised.

Mary got her letter of acceptance to veterinary school April 6, 1983. She called the elementary school where she was the PE teacher and sang, “Animal Crackers in My Soup” to Betsy, the office manager. Everyone was excited for her. They may have been glad to be getting rid of her. I really don’t know which.

The Sunday following the letter’s arrival, Keli was sunbathing under her tree. Mary was going to take her inside, about a 10-foot distance. She unhooked the lead, and said, “Come on, Keli.” Keli toddled straight to the fishpond, where she promptly fell in. Mary and Earl laughed so hard that Keli was quite embarrassed, and took off toward the busy street. Along with their yelling, Mary and Earl heard the squeal of brakes and a small “thud.” A car had hit the 5 month-old puppy. Earl ran out to the street. The man who hit her had stopped. Many drivers don’t. He felt so bad. Earl reassured the man that it wasn’t his fault, then carried Keli back to the house. All four limbs were hanging limply.

After careful examination, Dr. Earl could find nothing wrong. Keli trotted inside, where she proceeded to drink a bowlful of water and eat an entire bowl of puppy food.

Mary was in a queasy state of shock and guilt. She couldn’t eat. This proved unfortunate, because the staff at her school had planned a “Chocolate Monday” for the following day to celebrate her acceptance to veterinary school. The front office was loaded with goodies. Mary loves nothing more than chocolate. But on her special day, she couldn’t eat a bite.


December 17, 2008

Greetings from my warm kitty cup!

We cats, while tough critters, have a very special sensitivity to medication. This is because our livers lack a certain enzyme to breakdown medication in a short time. Dogs have the enzyme, we don’t. This makes the medication last longer in the bloodstream, and repeating the medicine too soon could cause toxicity.

A prime example is aspirin. Aspirin can be used in cats, for example, in heart problems. The dose is usually one baby aspirin every three or four days. The Wonder Husky occasionally gets an aspirin (translation: cheese pill) when she is feeling her age in one shoulder. She gets a whole aspirin disguised in some cheese. Snarfs it right down. Wanna pill a cat? Better wear body armor. Actually, Mary is quite good at pilling cats. Don’t you love it when nouns become verbs?

Please follow closely your veterinarian’s instructions on how often to medicate your cat. If you see any sign of your cat not doing well after medication, phone the vet immediately. After all, we are a very important part of your life.


December 13, 2008

Greetings from the kitty cup!

My humans, Mary and Earl are well trained to provide food, water and clean litter boxes for us cats. Three cats are a challenge in cleanliness. We also insist on clean, odor-free cat rooms, upstairs and downstairs.

We have two types of boxes in each cat room. One covered, one uncovered. Mary decided to try an uncovered box because Matthew likes to stand up while watering the litter box. This causes his urine to go out of the box. This makes the newspaper underneath smell, and it has to be changed. The covered box was a hit for us. We have the choice to use the one we want. Sometimes, we use one box for kitty logs, the other for the wet stuff. Other times, we mix it up.

Cats can be very fussy about their litter boxes. If the litter is too deep, our paws sink, and some cats don’t like that feeling. If the litter is too thin, it can wet our feet, which we don’t like, either. A cat that does not like the litter box management will not use the box.

Surfaces underneath the box will be accepted or rejected depending on the cat. Our boxes have black plastic bags underneath, covered by newspaper. Yep, we recycle the used newspapers. Some cats prefer their boxes on a tile or wood floor. It just depends on what they like.

Our two boxes outside on the sun porch are rarely looked at. We really don’t mind a dirty box outside.

If your cat does not use his litter box, first rule out a medical problem. Then look to litter box management.

Gotta go, Mary is filling the sink with water for us to play in. How fun is that?


December 10, 2008

The Family Circus® cartoon today features the kids looking at their cat resting on the car hood and saying she likes to be a hood ornament. This cartoon is very real.

Cats outside like to find a warm place to snuggle up. Resting on the hood makes it easy to see the cat, but other places in the car are not, and could potentially kill the cat.

Mary’s saddest house call ever was to visit a kitten killed by the family car. The mom called at night to say that unknown to her family, Cupcake chose the top of a tire to take a snooze. The dad backed the car out, rolling over Cupcake, killing her instantly. Mary asked what she could possibly do if Cupcake was dead. The mom wanted her to come and formally pronounce Cupcake dead for her little girl. When Mary got out of the car, the little girl who a few weeks earlier had been so proud of her new kitten wailed, “Dr. Carlson, my k-k-k-k-kitten is dead.”

Mary went into the garage where Cupcake was indeed dead. She pulled out her stethoscope, listened for a heart beat she knew was not there, and said, “Yes, Sweetheart, Cupcake is dead.” Mary and Earl stayed to chat with the mom for a while on their porch. The dad would not come out of the house.

Mary herself had a cat-in-the-car incident. In April, 1995, she was leaving her morning junior high school to prepare for her afternoon school. She had a brand new Subaru Outback, the first of its kind. It was a warm day, so she thought there was a problem with the motor when she started it to hear banging and thumping.

She drove to the dealership a few blocks away, where the mechanics popped the hood. Low and behold,  black streak of feline speed flew out of the engine. Everyone started yelling as the kitten dove behind a barrel. One young service agent yelled, “You’ve got to call a vet!” The crowd of employees shouted in unison, “She IS the vet.”

The kitten was taken to Mary’s clinic and treated. Mary just made it to the other school on time. After treatment for a minor forelimb fracture, a staff member at Mary’s school adopted the kitten, called Outback.

It was interesting that this story not only reached the local paper, but also was picked up by the local network news affiliate, then went all over the country on CNN. Cat doctor finds cat in her own engine.

Cats hiding in warm engine compartments pose a real danger for accidental death, especially by the fan belt and blades. Mary’s classmate has a cat named Fanbelt because of a similar experience.

Bang forcefully on the hood of the car before starting it to help run off any feline visitors that really should not be hanging out where it could be chopped up into kittyburgers.

December 8, 2008


December 5, 2008

Greetings from the kitty cup! Today, I would like to discuss my fur. Mary and Earl laugh at me because I look like a meatloaf. Well, I am NOT a meatloaf!

My brother, Cowboy Joe, and I have long hair coats. Joe never seems to get mats, but my coat attracts mats like prairie dogs attract fleas. Every few months, my suit needs pressing, as Mary says. Not wanting to mess with me, they call a professional groomer.

This is actually a pretty neat process. My groomer, C.J, drives up to the house in a van. She plugs into our electricity, and then takes me, screaming and yelling, out to the van.

Before C.J. comes, Mary locks me in the cat room with Joe and Matthew. I know something is up. I try to hide under the treadmill, but a 16-pound cat doesn’t fit. They laugh at my fanny sticking out of the treadmill.

When C.J. brings me back, I am truly a stylin’ cat. I look good, but she’s deaf from my yelling in her van to protest. Reminds me of the Saturday Night Live character, Matt Foley. “I’m a motivational speaker. I live in a van down by the river.” Since I have a reputation to uphold, I go and hide for a few hours. Later, because I look so fine, I come out of my hiding place and show off how handsome I am. I do have to put up with some jealousy. Matthew and Joe usually hiss at me for a couple of days.

Cat coats need regular grooming. I get brushed a lot. When I need a bath, it’s usually because my coat is too matted, and some fur covers a very personal place. C.J. shaves me along my chest and belly, making sure to capture those mats in my kitty armpits.

My point is that cats should be groomed often to keep the coat shining and to prevent mats. When it is necessary, professional grooming is the way to go. If you want to bathe and groom your own cat, follow these tips: First, put some protective lubricating ophthalmic ointment in the eyes. Second, trim the claws. This is because you don’t want to get hurt. Next, bathe and rinse your cat with a commercial pet shampoo. Human shampoo is too rough on us. Rinse well. Dry the cat off with thick towels. If possible, dry the cat with a hair dryer. There are special cages and cage dryers to purchase if you are going to do it yourself often. Good luck!


December 4, 2008

Boy, it’s cold here. We had our first snow of the season yesterday. Where we live, the sun will come out today, and the snow will be gone. Mary and Earl went to see “Oliver” last night, driving through some dicey streets of snow and ice. Chumps. We cats snoozed in our kitty cups and the Wonder Husky stayed outside, curled into a husky ball.

Please keep in mind the nature of cats as you prepare to celebrate this holiday season. There are some serious risks to us cats just because we behave the way we do.

First, for your sake as well as our safety, place ornaments on your tree high enough so we can’t knock them down. Stay away from tinsel, and ribbons on packages for that matter. These things if eaten, can cause our intestines to bunch up, and with the normal intestinal movements, can saw through the walls of the intestines. We have little projections on our tongues called papillae, which point backwards. When we get into tinsel, we can’t hack it back out. The only thing to do is swallow.

Make sure your tree is secure so we don’t topple it over while trying to jump on. Don’t let us have access to the treated water you have for the tree to drink. It has toxins in it.

We kitties are pyromaniacs, so only have candles lit when you are there to supervise. Use a fireplace screen when you build a fire.

We sometimes like to chew on wires. Mary once treated a cat that bit an electrical wire. Ouch. That tongue looked like hamburger for a while. You can put some hot pepper sauce on the wires so we will avoid them. We don’t like the taste, unless it is in chili.

There are many seasonal plants that are toxic to us. Holly, amaryllis and mistletoe are examples. I’m happy to be kissed, but not with mistletoe close by.

Please don’t change my diet during the holidays. I may want some snacks like turkey or tidbits dropped by well-intentioned guests, but this can upset my digestive system. Vomit, diarrhea and fur balls make unsightly holiday decorations. There are, however, healthy alternative treats made for the feline palate. Check them out at specialty pet stores.

Christmas, New Year’s, and Hanukkah are ordinary days for us cats. We are happy to watch your enjoyment and maybe to jump into those cat-sized boxes. We love to annoy you with our charm.

A good resource for animal poisoning is the ASPCA Poison Control Center.

4 Responses to Ask Frank

  1. Don S. says:

    I feel that Frank is an important addition to the wisdom of Planet Earth. You fill us with knowledge, Frank!

  2. Miss Kitty says:

    Frank – My companion cat and I are strictly indoor cats so I’m not sure how this terrible thing has happened to us. I’d like to ask you about a delicate subject – FLEAS! We’ve been invaded and they think my fluffy orange fur is their new winter home! Any tips on weapons that will harm them and not us? Thanks!

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