Friends Forever (Told through the eyes of a bonded house cat)
by Ron DeSciora
(North Brunswick, NJ. U.S.A.)
Bentley passed away after a near 3 year battle with congestive heart failure
Our story begins in early January, 2013. My name for now is Holly. I found myself surrounded by more than 20 other cats, all high energy and/or very aggressive. I am 6 months old and can run and jump with the best of them. Then I found a younger cat they called Bentley who was different. When playing with him I felt safe. I trusted him. The cats stayed together in groups of 3-5 per cage. Except me and Bentley had our own cage just the two of us shared.
Strangers came in every day and took cats with them. A few time Bentley was picked up, held and rubbed for long periods. They never picked me up as I never let them. I squirmed and pushed away. Bentley would cuddle like a pillow in their arms, and I expected he would leave too. One day and older couple came back and took Bentley. And to my surprise and fears I went with him. Workers told the couple that Bentley will have fun with them right away. But please give Holly time. She is a good cat. Bentley will show her the way.
We got to their home and the couple called me “Mercedes” and not Holly. They called us Bentley and Mercedes and people always chuckled when hearing our names. The couple was very nice to us, but I was very scared. It took 2 months for me to do anything but eat, sleep, hide and use a litter box. They kept asking if I want to be here. Not Bentley. It took him 2 days to wander and start playing. Toys were everywhere and Bentley played with every one of them. Me, I watched from a safe distance. The owners always held Bentley in their arms, laughing and kissing him. He was always very happy. He fell asleep in their laps and even smiled while he was sleeping. I slowly felt like just maybe I can trust the owners too.
They fed us the same time and location every day. Bentley always raced me to the food bowls. It was one of many games he wanted to play. I was much faster but let him win because it was important to him. He was a few pounds bigger than me and ate much faster. When I was half finished, he was near done. So he had me switch bowls in order to get the most food out of the deal. The owners got mad, but it never bothered me. As time went on I started playing with the same toys, dragging some of them to my owners the way Bentley did. The owners were happy, laughing and I even let them rub me. I started to sit and sleep next to the owners. I now understood why Bentley enjoyed this so much.
Bentley was “showtime” to any and everyone.He jumped into closet drawers and took comfort in any open box even the smallest shoe boxes. He ran around the room with the Sunday paper covering his body. The owners enjoyed the show and tried to get me to do it. But along with being nervous and scared, I was claustrophobic too. We were growing older and more independent of each other. They say this is natural for us cats. We shared a warm, safe, comfortable house and once in awhile even slept together. I fell asleep and he cuddled on me. Moving away from him was not easy. This guy fell asleep on the owner’s stomach. They had to pick him up, move him and he just fell back asleep. Although independent we groomed each other a few times a day. Sometimes it got rough but we never really fought. The owners stepped in and backed us off.
The owners left home for some long stretches.New people came in twice a day to feed and play with us. I ate the food but was not going to play with anyone new. I trusted Bentley. I trusted my owners. But someone else? Not me. Bentley of course had no problem. They picked him up and took pictures with him. The years went on and we became attached to our home, using every single room. Our routines were like clockwork. The owners could find us, and we found them when our meals were due.
We saw doctors once or twice a year and both of us hated the trip. In the summer of 2019 Bentley had a strange choking like cough. The owners brought him to the doctor without me going. I knew by the smell upon his return. Now when we got fed the owners stopped us from trading bowls, always picking up his so I couldn’t eat from it. I wondered what was in it.
Other than Bentley’s added trips to the doctor things stayed normal until June, 2021 when Bentley seemed to struggle. They brought him to the doctor many times that month. Nobody seemed happy. Even Bentley who was always happy. No longer did we eat meals together.After all these years that Bentley was bigger, now I was bigger, much bigger than him. Soon his trips to the doctor were once a week, every week. He still walked, ate and used the litter box. But no longer ran, jumped or gave us “showtime.” Most times he just slept in the living room or the big cage used for the doctor visits.
The owners spent much more time with Bentley. They no longer left on trips and nobody came in to watch us. On a cold, rainy morning in March, 2022 both owners took Bentley out of the house in a blanket and not the cage. They returned a few hours later but I did not see Bentley. Knowing all of his rest and play spot I simply smelled around to find him. When that didn’t work the answer would be the food bowl. Like old times I ate half the food. Except he no longer showed up to finish what I left him.
I miss you Bentley. At 9 years old I am now much less nervous and much less scared. They were so right when they said you would show me the way. You showed me that happiness and love are very special. Because of you, life has been good to me. Thank you my dear friend, until we meet again.