Cat Sanctuary


Written by guest blogger Martha Farnalls
When Ben first sauntered over to me in the new AIDS building with his awkward walk, his snuffly nose, and his permanent head tilt looking for a good scratchy-scratch behind the ears, I knew I’d met one very special cat in one very special place. Despite his Quasimodoish appearance, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with this laid back charmer.

Ben and Fergus
photo by Martha

In his younger days, Ben lived on a farm where the people misguidedly thought they could force him to be a dedicated mouser. He was brought to RAPS when it was felt he might enjoy a better life at the sanctuary. Seeing Ben in action, you can see that he flourishes in a place like RAPS where his social nature can be nurtured. It seems whenever I go into the new AIDS building, I find Ben laying quietly with another cat, at least until I sit down, then its lap time.

Being a confirmed lap cat, Ben politely makes his way to my lap while keeping the other cats at bay with the occasional swat across the nose. Although he doesn’t like to share when it comes to laps, Ann told me that Ben has an empathetic side and has often been found sleeping with other cats who were sick or dying as if offering some kind of comfort. Somehow, he seems to know who needs him.

photo by Martha

I’ve read many stories about cats, dogs and other animals that can sense physical or emotional sickness. Cats are frequently described as aloof and independent creatures, but when you take the time to really get to know a cat, you often find that this description is largely unjustified, and such is the case with Ben. When I go to the sanctuary every Wednesday night after work weighted with the stress of my day, it only seems natural to be drawn to a cat like Ben. After a good cuddle, I feel lighter than air.

Update by Claire, November 1, 2011: Sadly, Ben has now left us, having passed away in his sleep on Sunday.  After easing the passing of others, I’m glad that he had a gentle passing himself.