Thursday, June 13, 2019


I have very sad news.

Our dear Benny passed at 4:07 AM Monday morning, June 10, of a stroke. It was unexpected, although he was under treatment for hyperthyroidism, and that condition without a doubt is what led to the stroke.

Benny was loved by all who knew him, even those professing a dislike of cats, because he managed to exemplify all the dogly virtues—loyalty, sense of duty, friendliness, affectionateness—while still being 100 per cent cat. He greeted all visitors with a purr and a smile, and if his initial overtures were accepted, he got on their lap, nuzzled them affectionately, and then sat down and amped up his purr to fill the room and move the heart.

All succumbed to Benny’s open, friendly welcome. He was not pushy with them, but he was irresistible nonetheless. People just naturally started petting him; Benny would accept the affection, and return it in kind.

One of my sisters-in-law visits us every year, and she always has pointedly made a good long lap session with Benny a central feature of her visits. And she’s not the only one to have done this. Benny had a fan in all who knew him.

Benny came to us as an adult. He joined our family on September 2, 2010. Based upon his appearance and neighborhood reports, we judged him to be one year old, and officially fixed his birthdate accordingly, but it seems apparent now that he must have been older (although he never showed it). Adam, then seven months old, vetted Benny in fifteen minutes, and from that moment on they were brothers under the fur. I have never witnessed a closer relationship between two cats.

* * *

All cats have an inner Big Cat in them. Simon’s Big Cat, for example, is a lion, as was Adam’s before him. Benny’s Big Cat was a panther. You could see that come out when he was outside. He was sleek, his coat was smooth and it shone in the sun, and his every movement bespoke the panther within.

But he was a kind panther. Benny was an outdoor cat by nature. We rescued him from the outside. He kept appearing in the yard of Lydia’s mom Frances, thin as a rail, for weeks. He was wonderfully sweet, and seemed to make a point of visiting Lydia whenever she was there.

As the weeks passed, she noticed with concern that he was getting thinner and thinner. Lydia asked all around the neighborhood, and everyone said he'd been present for some months, and belonged to no one. So, after verifying this, we took him in.

We soon realized that the reason that he was so thin was because, while he had the big-cat killing instinct, when it came right down to it he had too much love in his heart to administer the fait accompli. I witnessed this just last Friday.

Benny was a sun-worshipper, and he needed to be outside regularly to be happy, so we put him on a harness and a leash and put him outside in the back yard most every non-rainy day.

Pasadena has a deplorable problem with wild coyotes roaming the streets freely, so we always monitored Benny's outside sojourns to keep him safe. Last Friday, I watched him catch a winsome little mouse, and ran out frantically to save the mouse's life.

Benny came up to me, looked into my eyes, then placed the mouse at my feet. The mouse just lay there. While I was touched by the tribute Benny was paying me, I was quite distressed for the mouse.

Then Benny looked down at the mouse, and nudged it with his paw. The mouse squeaked, got up, and scurried away. Benny could not bring himself to kill the mouse, God bless him.

Benny, last Friday, just after he paroled the mouse.

* * *

There is no comfort that I have ever found in a passing. It is the worst part of life. I'd gladly exchange years of my own life to see any of my dear departed before me for one more blessed minute.

But if there is any way to consider the manner of Benny’s passing that might lessen the pain a bit, it is that up to his last day he was happy and vital and keeping on. He went outside, and he played, and he sat on my lap as he loved to do, and he purred up a storm. He made all his days count. He set a good example for us all.

When his time came, he went with dignity, surrounded by those who knew and loved him best.

Benny was a manifest daily presence of God’s love in our lives from the first day to the last, and he will live forever in our hearts. Benny is at the right hand of God now. No, come to think of it, he’s in God’s lap, purring up a storm. And to his right is his pal Adam.

I'll write more about Benny when I can.

* * *

September 2, 2009 (?) - June 10, 2019