Vale Bentley …

I’m heartbroken. Today HWB and I had to say goodbye to our beautiful Bentley.

Last photo …

He was never quite himself after his illness while we were in France and last week things took a sinister turn for the worse. Between bouts of weeping, I’m grateful for the few weeks we had together and the chance to share some final purrs and cuddles.

Bentley Hunter Bunter Bunny Baby (to give him his full array of names) was a very special cat, and that’s not just my partiality speaking.

Fifteen years ago I had been through a series of love disasters and I’d resolved to institute a Man Ban and instead get myself a little feline companion. Bentley, under his pedigree alias of Barcoo Rusky was then midway through his career as a show kitten. When he retired from the circuit as the Australian British Shorthair Kitten of the Year he was ready to come home with me.

Only a couple of weeks earlier, I had met HWB and while still maintaining my Man Ban I had agreed to go out with him for dinner. When HWB called for a second date I told him I had a prior commitment – to collect my new cat – and HWB asked if he could join me on the expedition. I didn’t know it then, but HWB is a dog man and had never been at all fond of cats, so this was a significant mark of his early regard. Happily for me I ended up with both cat and man 🙂

Bentley stole our hearts from the moment he came home.

Honey

A couple of years later I was posted to New York for work, and such was our devotion to Bentley that we decided to take him with us. Thus began Bentley’s career as an international cat of mystery. He took to New York apartment life with aplomb and used to sit up on a window sill and survey the pulsing city with great interest.

On one particularly memorable occasion I had my boss, Charles, round to dinner. Charles was not a cat fancier, in fact he had disclosed to me his active dislike of feline creatures. Bentley, sometimes shy in company, took one look at him and leapt on to his knee. Charles was converted and for years afterwards always asked after Bentley whenever we spoke.

Charm offensive

Bentley had the softest fur in the world. British shorthairs have a special double layer of fluff and he was a perambulating bunny rug. Being used to top class salon treatment from his show-kitten days he loved being brushed and having his nails done. He was a tart for tickles and an irresistible cuddler.

Magical fur

After some initial shyness in his early years, Bentley became a very sociable puss and would parade about eliciting adoration from visitors, giving them coquettish looks from his huge golden eyes. Cat lovers swooned.

And like most cats, Bentley was endlessly curious and would always be sticking his nose and paws into anything new happening in the home. He was particularly fond of craft activities, especially if ribbons and crackly paper were involved.

Bentley was a pernickety eater, and most fastidious in his tastes. But it was in the matter of beverages that he developed a particular preference. He had a perfectly adequate water bowl, but he insisted on drinking the water from the fish bowl. Bentley and the fish always lived in symbiotic harmony.

Drinking the fishy water

Pets are one of the most wonderful things in the world. They make you laugh, they comfort you when you are sick, they are steadfast companions, they offer unconditional love. And when they die it breaks your heart.

Many times Bentley sat purring on my knee while I typed away at this blog. Today my lap feels achingly empty. Farewell, little Bentley …