A few days ago I came across an amazing story of a remarkable cat named BenBen. I immediately fell in love with this little kitty. Because so many of my followers are cat lovers, I thought I would share his story. (Be warned, you might cry. Tears of joy!)
In April, 2016, BenBen was brought to a shelter in Canada with multiple wounds – a broken spine, broken paws, several lacerations and a damaged ear – called a cauliflower ear.
No one knew what had happened to him but veterinarians speculated he may have been attacked by a bigger animal. He was given several surgeries, but with little hope for a complete recovery. Because of his severe injuries, veterinarians said he would never walk again. If he remained alive he would need extreme care, and it was unlikely anyone would be prepared to help him. He was in fact, eventually deemed ‘unadoptable’ and scheduled to be euthanized.
BenBen was depressed, but to make things worse, he has a condition of excess skin on his face, which gives him a permanent mournful expression. (It is nonetheless, endearing!) BenBen was called the ‘saddest cat in the world’.
As the days passed, BenBen grew more listless and sulky. He refused to eat or drink. Shelter workers thought he was preparing to die. He was on death row and he knew there was no hope for him.
However, one kind-hearted soul met BenBen and could not allow his demise. Sandy Windover is an ER veterinarian who had assisted with BenBen’s care. She did not want to let him go, and just a few hours before BenBen’s scheduled euthanasia, arranged to adopt him.
BenBen went home to his ‘forever home’ with Sandy. Even as a passenger riding in her car, he already began to perk up.
Once they were home, Sandy reports that he immediately (within one hour!) began to get better. He was moving, purring and snggling up to her. Sandy got a special non-slip training mat to help assist BenBen’s recovery so he could strengthen his legs and learn to walk again.
Little by little, BenBen was rehabilitated. Now, not only can he walk, but he also plays and can fetch a toy! His appetite is great, and he is even known to sometimes snack on pizza.
The resilience of animals never ceases to amaze me. The story of BenBen touched me so much because in part it reminds me of my own cat Jasper.
Jasper, like BenBen, had been taken into Chicago Animal Care & Control by a good Samaritan who found him in an alley. It was the dead of winter (and Chicago winters are awful!) Jasper was half starved and suffering a respiratory infection that would have killed him if he had not gotten help. The veterinarians treated him, nursed him back to health, gave him all necessary shots, and within a few weeks Jasper was deemed ‘adoptable’.
However, no one wanted him. Jasper is a black cat and it is notoriously hard to get anyone to adopt black cats. Apparently, old superstitions die hard and many people still consider black cats to be ‘evil’ and bad luck.
Jasper had been sitting in his cage for six months when I walked in, specifically looking for a black cat. (My previous one had died a few weeks before.) Needless to say, it was destiny! The shelter workers were thrilled that I wanted him and confided to me that they would not have been able to keep him for much longer.
When I brought Jasper home his muscles were somewhat atrophied and he could not jump. I knew if I had to carry him around, or if he was less active than a normal cat, that would be okay. However, within two days Jasper became Supercat, able to leap tall counters and kitchen sinks in a single bound! He has a permanent soft voice due to his respiratory infection, and he rarely meows. We call him ‘the quiet man’ but in danger he has a mean hiss!
Although Jasper’s situation was in no way as severe as BenBen’s, both cats illustrate an important point – with a little love and care, animals can recover from horrendous situations and go on to lead happy, fantastic lives!
If you are thinking of adding a pet to your family, please consider a shelter animal. They are very loving and loyal, easily trained and resilient. Having seen the worst and overcome great hardships, your shelter pet will be so happy to have you!
Many people were moved by BenBen’s story. Here is one video to celebrate his new life!