Frankie has been getting entirely too much attention lately. But long before there was the constant barking, gnawed-on shoes and half-eaten garbage, there was the quiet, peaceful existence of a writer and her cat.

Bella found me (quite literally) in December of 2005. I had recently put down my cat of 14 years and I was outside raking leaves. Raking and crying. It had only been a couple of months since his passing and yard work had been our “special time.” Tears were streaming down my face when a white kitten with blue eyes jumped out of the bushes and started chasing the rake. I decided it was a sign.

We spent the better part of an afternoon getting to know each other. She dissolved into purrs beneath my hand. She was attention starved and oh-so loving. My next-door neighbor saw us outside. He didn’t know who she belonged to, but he’d seen her the night before on our street. I knew it had been close to freezing on recent nights. She had on a pink collar with rhinestones. I was falling in love with someone’s pet.

I left to run an errand. I knew she might be gone when I returned, but I secretly hoped she wouldn’t be. When I came home, there was no sign of her. I opened the door and looked up and down the street. Nothing. The third time I checked — there she was — across the street, in a driveway. She looked up at me and bounded across two yards to my front door. The same next-door neighbor laughed and hollered over to me, “She picks you!”

As it turned out, some college girls had adopted her before learning that their third roommate was allergic. They’d been keeping her outside and planned to return her to the Humane Society the next day. They’d been trying to find a home for her. At last attempt, she’d been shipped off with a boyfriend who owned two big Boxers. They were relieved to give her up to me. I’m sure she was relieved to get away from the Boxers.

She came with her name and her pink diamond collar. I took the collar off, but it was too late. Her personality was already infused with the entitled air of a princess. She’s clearly an indoor girl. She goes outside in my small yard only when I’m watching. She would never jump the fence. She doesn’t jump. Or climb. Or even relish high places. My mom says she’s the perfect cat for me cause I take so long at the door and she never runs out. My mother once accidentally left the door ajar and the wind blew it wide open. It was like that for half the day and I came home with Frankie in a panic to find her lounging on the bed.

Maybe her first few months served her well. Now she can really appreciate attention from someone who’s not allergic and treasure a warm bed on a cold night. And after holding her own against Boxers, she can certainly handle Frankie.

Frankie has made me love dogs in addition to cats and I’ll always be writing about him and his mischievous ways. But behind this adorable dog that hogs the spotlight is a sweet and unassuming kitty. When it comes to these two, it’s true what they say: you never forget your first love.

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