Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Panko and the Bartholomews

“Our 8-year-old cat, Bartleby, left a huge hole in our hearts when he passed unexpectedly last September,” recounts Jay, “and his older companion, Whiskey, was sad and confused as well. Although we wanted to get another cat almost immediately for all our sakes, we waited until it became clear from Whiskey’s behavior that he was ready for a new friend.

“Enter Panko — decidedly a cuter and more fitting name than his original one, Francis. Simply say it out loud and you instantly feel better! But when we first met him, he was so shy that it was more of a glimpse than an actual meeting. And that gave us pause. Realizing later that most young cats are shy around strangers, we returned to Furry Friends and brought our shy kitty home. As we suspected, it didn’t take him long to adjust to his new life with us.

“Not to boast, but this cat is amazing! Being part of a pet-loving family, I’ve probably had a dozen cats in my life, but none like Panko. As awkward as it is to replace one cat with another, Panko was precisely what we all needed to mend our broken hearts. He has so much love to give and needs so much love in return that we’re happy to oblige him. I myself have never coddled another cat as much as I coddle Panko.

“Why do I love Panko? Oh, because he’s perfect. And quirky. He likes to gaze at and reach for himself in the mirror, which is unusual behavior for a cat. And yet, the first thing I do every morning is hold him in front of the mirror until he’s satisfied with himself. He’s also a ‘professional’ snuggler, trained by an elite team of kittens, I assume. He literally hugs back. And when I come home from a stressful day, I hold him to wind down.

“He often perches himself on my wife and purrs into her pregnant belly. If she’s napping, it’s a guarantee that he’s in bed with her, wrapped up in her arms. It’s the sweetest thing to hear him let out one final purr/snore sound before falling silent and asleep. My favorite part of the day is when I gently wake them up. If we’re both in bed, Panko likes to wedge himself between us or find a position that ensures he’s touching both of us.

“While Whiskey doesn’t really like to cuddle with other cats, he and Panko get along just fine, and he’s clearly so much happier living in a multi-cat home again. My only regret is that we didn’t adopt Panko’s entire family. If his brothers and sisters are anything like he is, there must be some other very happy pet parents out there.

“Although we’ll never forget our sweet Bartleby, Panko unquestionably cured our broken hearts, giving us somewhere positive to direct all of our strong feelings. And for that, we don’t say, ‘thank you,’ we say, ‘Panko.’”