Berio is our oldest pet. Sometime this year I’m pretty sure he will be twelve. He came to us via Pam and Ray (as did all our remaining cats) who fostered him for many months with his litter mates for the Tompkins County SPCA. Berio and his four lucky litter mates were a feral group who required much tender loving care and understanding in order to prepare them for adoption. As it turned out only one of the litter was adopted by an outside family. We took Berio, our daughter adopted Nell, and Ray and Pam kept Tocai (RIP) and the infamous Picolit. They all turned out to be great pets…well, there is some debate circulating around Pico, but these cats are for the most part very sweet, gentle, lovable and well adjusted pets. Again, Pico has some issues, but she can turn on the charm when necessary.
While we still lived in NJ Berio came to us after a long and scary trip with Ray . Not the bravest of felines, Berio freaked out until Ray covered his crate with a towel so that he couldn’t see the moving landscape. He settled down, arrived safely and adjusted to the other two cats Venus and Mario. At the time I think we also had dog Ferris and cat Xena (RIP to both,) or maybe both Ferris and Xena came after Berio. Unless I check the records, I’m not quite sure who was around when Berio joined our family. I do know he came after Venus.
The house was big and Berio could easily hide and feel safe. He was a very cautious cat and wasn’t known to be too social with humans who might be visiting. He did, however, turn out to be a welcome wagon as out cat population waxed and waned. Demi joined us in 2003. Berio took her under his wing and taught her a safer way to navigate the stairs. She was unfortunately the kitten who fell from the second floor onto the hallway floor. Mario departed this world and we adopted Fiona (RIP). Berio is seen at left instructing her on the window watching protocol. Fiona was pretty sick when we first welcomed her to our home. She was quarantined for a while and when we felt she was becoming too depressed without any contact from the adult cats we let Berio spend time with her. That worked out for Fiona, but Berio caught some version of whatever was ailing Fiona. It was all resolved and they continued to be good friends even when we moved to NY.
At our new address Berio seemed to acquire a new confidence. He no longer hides when people visit and even talks to us when he is ready to eat or get a tummy rub. This once feral, fearful fellow will now sprawl out on the floor and let me tickle his big stomach with my foot. Who would have thought he could become so mellow? Berio’s mentoring of all the subsequent additions to our menagerie earned him the title “Uncle Berio.” When Frederick and Nebbiolo came aboard it was Uncle Berio who again did all the kitty nurturing. His sexual orientation is somewhat suspect, as he does have many qualities of a mother cat.
His recent foray with the Companion Animal Hospital at Cornell is further evidence of his sweet nature. All the attending doctors and students found his ability to chill out to be a very attractive trait for a cat to have. Berio actually had an abdominal ultra sound without the aid of any sedatives. That’s a pretty remarkable feat for any cat. His eyes were also photographed because of their ailment and text book nature. He was the perfect model; no movement to be seen at all. Given the amount of prodding and poking in and around his eyes, I must also admit his congeniality may just be his old fear surfacing again. He may be too scared to move. By the time we return home Berio is back to normal. Give him some kibble and a nice place to take a nap and all is well in his world…and mine.