“Little Ben,” by Sally Byrd

By Guest Contributor November 7, 2016 15:56

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Barney and Ben bask in the sun

Barney and Ben bask in the sun

Little Ben

By Sally Byrd

We live on a two-mile rural stretch of a dead-end road, that sadly is a drop off for unwanted kittens. We often see strays running in and out of culverts and brush near the first few neighbors’ driveways.

One spring a new batch of kittens had been recently dumped off. Since our current tom cat was getting older, we decided to set the trap cage and catch a younger barn cat. We netted only one hungry kitten, an orange striped male we named Barney.  That same year in the fall, we left for a two-week vacation, and had a neighbor come in to feed the animals. When we returned home, the neighbor called and said, “Your orange cat came over to our house while you were gone.” Funny, I thought I’d just seen Barney with a mouse in his mouth up at the barn that morning. So over I went to check it out, and here’s another orange kitten that had made himself at home at the neighbors. They didn’t want a cat, only kept him thinking he was ours, as they knew we were gone. Well I knew this kitty wasn’t Barney, but took him anyway deciding Barney could probably use some company. Dubbed him lil’ Ben.

Barney’s a tall lanky light orange tom, Ben a short chubby darker orange marmalade.

We had only had the cats just over a year, when another neighbor lost her husband suddenly. Both her dogs passed the year before.  I asked her did she not have cats because of the dogs? Well yes, but that she does like cats too.  o I offered her lil’ Ben, as he turned out to be the more lovable of the two, and I thought she might like the company.  She came over and put Ben in the carrier, in the back of her car – for the ½ mile ride home to her house. The next morning – while in the garage to feed Barney, there was Ben happily crunching kibbles alongside him. How did he know where to go? He couldn’t see where he had been taken, had no idea where he was or how far from our house.

I called my neighbor so she wouldn’t worry something had happened to him. The following weekend she had three days off, so again came and got him. This time she closed off the doggie door, so they could bond and he would get used to her, the house and possibly stay this time. She said he was a love, felt that he was going to like it there. When she went to work the fourth day, she opened the doggie door for him when she left for work.

Ben hugs Barney

Ben hugs Barney

You guessed it, later that day here was Ben, back to our house and his pal Barney ~ the two of them sleeping under a tree.  So my neighbor and I agreed, it just wasn’t meant to be. She then went to the animal shelter in San Andreas and got another kitten, she still has today. That little kitty has turned out to be a wonderful companion for her.

It wasn’t long after that my older cat passed, he was just months away from his 20th birthday. Barney immediately took over as ‘top cat’, he and Ben getting closer than ever over the years. These two continue to eat, sleep and play together when they’re not out hunting and keeping the critter population down.

One night shortly after we’d gotten a new puppy, I was taking her out for a last whiz before bedtime. Across the lawn I noticed both cats circling slowly at a large lump in the grass. Sure enough it was a coiled rattlesnake and it was huge. Had it not been for their warning – that curious puppy probably would have bounded over and gotten bit. I was able to get the pup back in the house till my husband could take care of that snake before it hurt any of the animals. These cats will be celebrating their 13th birthdays in 2016, close as I can tell as they were both just large kittens when we got them one in the spring, the other in fall of 2003.

I gave up trying to find Ben another home, I realized he simply wasn’t having it. Little did I know this unlikely pair of rescues would bond like they did. In the past, we’ve usually had one cat at a time. I now can see cats prefer to be in pairs, these two have shown me that. Two abandoned kittens destined to be feral, not sure which of us was the luckiest to have brought them into our family.

By Guest Contributor November 7, 2016 15:56
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