The occasional drama queen aside, cats are often described as relatively low-maintenance pets compared to dogs. Even so, there’s a bit more to looking after an absent friend or family member’s cat over an extended period of time than there is to watering their ornamental bamboo or spider plant.
Sound obvious? Read on and meet Benson, who suffered years of benign neglect in a home where he just wasn’t particularly wanted.
Marianne tells the story:
Benson had belonged to a young man who decided to go travelling. He left Benson in the care of his parents, who really weren’t very fond of cats. The young man’s travels extended to many years, which Benson spent mostly ignored and unloved with the parents, who fed him and housed him but that was about all. He spent his time alone inside a room at their home. No doubt, he became depressed and somewhat unsociable.
A sympathetic friend of the family took pity on Benson and arranged for him to be brought to RAPS. He started out at the No. 5 Road shelter, but wasn’t adopted from there… so was transferred to the cat sanctuary.
When he arrived, he was billed as a nice older boy, which he certainly appeared to be until: a) you tried to leave his cage or b) when another cat came too close. Then he would growl, hiss and lash out at whatever or whoever was nearest, human or feline. Long after being released from his cage, he remained a loner, preferring to spend his time outside, between the gates between front and back courtyard, no matter what the weather.
When he developed a chronic runny nose, he was provided with his own cage in the Newcomers area, where he spends the nights warm and dry. During the daytime, he roams around the back courtyard.
A few dedicated volunteers (especially Phaedra) and a 2010 summer student, Vanessa, have bonded with Benson and their efforts have been rewarded. He’s much calmer and a lot more willing to share his space with other cats. Although still not always lovey-dovey, he’s extremely affectionate and even cuddly when he has someone’s attention one-to-one.
He really needs a home and would make a perfect cat for a quiet, patient person who had lots of time to devote to him.
Benson is indeed an affectionate cat when shown a little love. We didn’t know each other all that well when I went to visit him in his cage recently, but he soon climbed out of his bed to greet me and was before long alternating between marching back and forth so I could stroke him from all angles and coming in close for a little face time and a forehead lean.