You're thinking, "Bentley, huh? He's gonna blather on about English cars this week." Nope. There's almost nothing I'd like to pontificate on more than W.O. Bentley and those big, burly Bentley motorcars of the late 1920s. As the Great Depression took hold Bentley just couldn't hold on. Rolls Royce came to the rescue and owned Bentley for decades until the Rolls Royce auto division was sold, splitting Rolls and Bentley between BMW and Volkswagen. Well, this has nothing to do with the confusion that followed, who ended up owning Bentley (Volkswagen) or cars at all. It's about a tiny barn cat born between the farmhouse and the shrubbery at Walpole Valley Farms. Home of the most socialized barn cats I've ever seen thanks to my grandsons Sam and Henry.
There were no barn cats when my daughter and son-in-law began farming. As they brought farm animals back to the once idle farm, a small family of long-haired feral cats established themselves in the huge barn. Over time they began socializing the cats, and my grandsons picked up on it. The cats are beautiful. Most of them have long hair like Maine Coon cats. The coat color combinations are always a surprise, ranging from caramel tigers to solid gray and white combinations, all gray tigers and more. While the cats are very healthy, well-fed and looked after by the local vet, they are so gentle, friendly and well-adjusted. That's the more remarkable part of this story.
With a huge old dairy barn and unlimited nooks and crannies, the occasional cat has avoided detection, socialization, spaying or neutering. Sam and Henry have gone on "litter patrol" many times in an attempt to catch them while they are still young. It's a difficult job but they've had some success. Once the wild ones have been brought into the fold they receive medical attention, socialization and usually adoption because friends and neighbors know just how great these cats are. Our cat Gracie came from the farm and she has been fabulous.
Recently we were visiting and my daughter pointed out one of the new kittens playing with my grandsons. They had named the little gray and white partial tiger "Bentley." He had been born with an extended right rear leg that is misshapen. The vet said it may resolve itself in time. Bentley isn't slowed down by it. When he motivates along the hardwood floors it works like a ski. Other times he uses it to stabilize himself, but that little guy has got game. Nothing stops him. My fiancee and I fell in love with him on the spot and agreed to adopt him when he was old enough. I recall saying that little Bentley and I needed each other.
The day quickly came when Bentley's mom decided to wean her kits and we've had him for weeks now. Our mature female cat Gracie is Bentley's cousin. Relations don't mean anything to cats. She has found Bentley's boundless energy to be annoying. Bentley loves her and follows her everywhere, mimicking her behavior (a good thing) and trying out her special sleeping spots (a bad thing). When Gracie comes in from outside Bentley runs up to her and wraps his front paws around her neck. She'll swat him to one side but he'll pop up and come back for more every time. You gotta love his persistence.
I have bonded with little Mr. Bentley. We've spent a lot of days together playing and chasing around. If I take a nap he will usually be on my chest just purring away. He has some almost manic active periods as kittens do, but he has learned that when the lights go out it is time for sleep, and for the most part he sleeps through the night by my side. So yes, I think we have bonded.
In a few weeks, we'll be taking Bentley to the vet's for shots and neutering. We'll be asking lots of questions about his leg. The future of his handicap is probably unknowable, but we're going to ask anyway. I think the saying that goes with this one is, "if it doesn't bother him, don't bother with it." I honestly don't think it bothers him. Like the Bentley automobiles in the 1920s and early 1930s, they were built for speed. Our little Bentley seems to be the same though he needs work on his right-hand turns.
Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.