Kitty keeps Billy Graham company as he approaches birthday 99

CHARLOTTE, NC (Tim Funk/The Charlotte Observer) - As he approaches his 99th birthday in November, Billy Graham is spending a lot of time with Kitty.

She's a feline friend, a black-and-white-faced cat with whiskers who is a constant companion these days to the famous Charlotte-born evangelist.

"No one could ever remember her name, so we all call her 'Kitty,' " son Franklin Graham reported in a Friday Facebook post that was an update on his aging father. "She was a gift from all of us children on his 90th birthday and continues to be by his side."

The younger Graham wrote that Billy has the physical challenges you'd expect in a 98-year-old – he's hard of hearing and can't see well – but still enjoys visits from family, including grandchildren, great-grandchildren and his only surviving sibling, sister Jean Ford of Charlotte.

The elder Graham, who once trekked the globe headlining crusades, now rarely leaves his mountaintop Montreat home. But his Southern Baptist pastor, the Rev. Don Wilton, continues to make the weekly trip from Spartanburg to see and pray with Billy.

"This has been a tradition of prayer and encouragement for more than 20 years – we are so grateful to Pastor Wilton," wrote Franklin Graham, who ended his post by thanking all of those who have prayed and showed concern for his father. "You really don't know how much that means to our family."