Benji’s Story…

Benji came to our adoption location back at the beginning of May 2014.  His owner had recently passed away and no one in the family would take him into their home so he was surrendered to Ten Lives Club.  He was confused and scared – he didn’t understand why he was suddenly in this strange, noisy place with so many other kitties and human strangers.   Benji had been in a nice quiet home with a loving purrson for the last 3 years – basically his entire life.  It was clear he needed to find a forever home without other kitties or young children – a quiet, peaceful household.

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For the first few weeks with us, when he was out of his cage, he would pace from door to door yowling and crying.  He was absolutely miserable & inconsolable.  He wasn’t even particularly fond of getting pets from our volunteers in the beginning.  He didn’t want anything to do with any of the other kitties & would growl if they came too close to him.  This was very intimidating to the other kitties since Benji was a VERY big boy – weighing in at about 22+ lbs. & ALL MUSCLE.

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He was a very impressive & beautiful boy but had a moody, temperamental streak that could be very unpredictable.  We had to keep an eye on him when visitors came into the room while the kitties were out of their cages because he usually did not tolerate strangers – especially young children – petting him.

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Over time, with the love and attention of our dedicated group of volunteers, Benji started to become more social.  He was happiest when he got to be a lap kitty & get the one on one attention he had always had before.  He even struck up a friendship with one of the kittens that came to us in June – Freckles.  Freckles was 5 months old & a sweet tempered, beautiful boy – which worked wonders on Benji’s temperament.  Benji also began to “tolerate” most of the other kitties – particularly Penny, who happens to have an attitude of her own & is not easily intimidated.

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During a kitten adoption event in June, a woman came in who wanted an adult kitty – not a kitten.  She had recently moved back to Buffalo & was retired.  She lived alone & missed having the company of a cat.  Dayna, one of our volunteers who was working the event that day, took her back to the cat room to meet Benji.  It was a perfect match!  She filled out an application to adopt Benji & after reviewing her information to approve the adoption, we set up a time early the following week to finalize. She had told me that she had even rearranged her dining room so the table was right by a window for Benji to enjoy an outside view.  She wanted a day or so to make sure she had a special room set up just for him so everything would be in place when she brought him home with her.

Our group of volunteers were overjoyed!  Benji had found the perfect forever home & would finally be a happy boy with the love & attention he had always known in his previous home.

Unfortunately, about 2 weeks later, she called to say she would have to bring Benji back.  She lived in a converted home apartment situation & unknown to her or her landlord, her neighbor was severely allergic to cats.  My heart dropped to my stomach.  Of all of the kitties for this to happen to, it had to be BENJI!  NOOOoooo!!

We met back at the store the following day.  She was extremely upset and felt horrible that she had let him down.  She loved him & would’ve never let him go but she didn’t have a choice.  Benji knew he was back in the cat room again.  He was confused and extremely angry – to say the least.  He wouldn’t even let her pick him up or pet him to say good bye.  He was already pacing around – ears laid out to the side, growling non-stop & whipping his tail.

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After she left, I sat with him for a long time & let him vent – having the room to himself while the others stayed in their cages.  I’m pretty sure they didn’t want to come out anyway! I talked softly to him & tried to pet him to calm him down, but he wouldn’t let me touch him.  I didn’t dare push my luck – he was an angry cat (& a very LARGE one) & even though he wasn’t mad at ME, he most likely would’ve lashed out.  I didn’t blame him.

When it was time to go back in his cage, I struggled with how I was going to accomplish that – obviously, I couldn’t just scoop him up & put him inside.  Treats were not working.  Then I remembered how much he loved catnip.  I found his favorite toy – a rainbow stuffed with catnip – sprayed it with catnip concentrate & put some on his bedding.  I held the toy under his nose & lead him right into his cage.

It was so hard to break the news to our volunteers.  Everyone was in shock & heartbroken that Benji had to come back to us after going into a home that was so perfect for him.  We all tried very hard to make the transition easier for him by showering him with as much love & attention as we could.  His buddy Freckles was being fostered at the time, so until he came back, Benji didn’t have his companionship to make things more tolerable.

Freckles came back a week or so later & Benji was beginning to adjust.  Until we got a new group of kitties with a male that he absolutely hated!  He would stalk & corner him – growling & making it clear who was boss.  Starfox, the poor kitty that Benji had targeted, was a sweet, gentle boy who was terrified & couldn’t understand why Benji was being so mean to him.  We had to keep them separated – not for only Starfox’s safety, but for the other kitties or anyone else who happened to be in Benji’s line of fire.  Benji was completely focused on terrorizing Starfox & whoever stood in his way would’ve been a casualty.

Finally, one of our volunteers offered to take Benji home with her & see if he would get along with her other kitty – who is a female.  Benji had always been OK with the female kitties in the cat room, so our thinking was that he would be the same with her’s.  After a few days, it was very apparent that he was NOT OK with her kitty.  He started stalking her & finally, attacked her – which was the final straw.  He had to come back.  BUT, she adopted Starfox!  This was a relief.  At least with Starfox out of the cat room, Benji settled down again.

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Then Freckles was adopted.  He watched as his little buddy get into his carrier.  He walked over to sniff and check it over before saying good bye to Freckles.  It broke my heart.  Poor Benji watched another kitty find their forever home while he still waited to find his own.  Now, the only other kitty he really got along with left him alone.  Again…

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We began our campaign with even more vigor to find Benji his forever home.  Posting on Facebook, Twitter – telling everyone we knew about Benji’s plight & special needs to find a forever home.  People responded by sharing with their friends.  Those they came to visit him on a regular basis would do the same.  I began to get more calls about Benji from good-hearted people, but unfortunately, were not a fit for him.  I wasn’t about to put him into another situation that would set him up for failure again.

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Then one day, a couple of weeks ago, I got a call from a woman who’s brother lived alone & had no other pets in his home. He had cats in the distant past, but spent much of his time working & just hadn’t really thought about getting another cat.  I was somewhat doubtful at first.  But I set up a meet & greet with Benji last Monday.  We spent a lot of time discussing Benji’s needs and giving Benji time to get to know Roger during the visit.

Although Benji wasn’t overly affectionate, he finally started rubbing against Roger’s legs.  Then Benji allowed Roger to pick him up & pet him.  Roger understood that under these circumstances, Benji wasn’t going to have the same temperament as he would in a home setting where he would have him all to himself.  He was willing to be patient & let Benji come around on his own terms.  He didn’t expect Benji to become a lovey lap kitty or bond with him immediately.  Roger was willing to give him time to accept him & his new surroundings – however long that might take.

We made arrangements to finalize Benji’s adoption the following evening (Tues. 10/7).  With a little coaxing of fresh catnip, Benji went into the carrier to go home with Roger.  It was hard to to see him go, but I maintained until I told them both good-bye. Walking back to the cat room, happy tears came because I knew in my heart he would finally know the happiness & love he had waited to find for so long. 

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On Wednesday, I got a text from Roger thanking me profusely for letting him bring Benji home.  He told me that the minute Benji stepped into the house outside of the carrier, he began purring non-stop!  Benji wanted all the pets & cuddles that Roger could give him!  He slept on Roger’s bed the very first night & hogged all of the covers!  Benji has claimed Roger as HIS PURRSON & is KING of the house!

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Benji will forever have a piece of our hearts – for of all of us who cared & loved him for the 6 months he stayed with us. But in the cat room, he was like a cougar in a cage – pacing around & feeling trapped. He couldn’t help but be grumpy & grouchy sometimes – he was miserable & too confined – especially for his size! It took longer than we (& Benji) would’ve liked to find his purrson, but now he’s with Roger who was meant to be his. And Roger found Benji boy who was meant to be his BOSS & BUDDY for life!

WE LOVE YOU BIG BEAUTIFUL BOY!  ALL OUR LOVE GOES WITH YOU!!

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