The story of Benji

Notice the large abcess on the right side of this little face.

This is the story of the rescue of Benji. Benji and I have a curious sense of destiny together. He is a dumpster kitten that I first noticed just before Christmas. He was very small, shy but had a very loud and penetrating miaow (that should have given more than a clue!). He lived among other feral cats and seem to survive off a few dry pellets and some food scraps left by some individual at the dumpster. I felt tempted on several occasions to snap him but I thought someone must have some connection to him because he was so sweet and friendly after a bit of warming up. Unfortunately, because there are so many cats here, some people take in kittens when they are little, cute and irresistible just to discard them when they become bigger and loose that kitten cuteness. There is always a new cute kitten waiting in line! 

In great pain!

Well, I'm not quite sure what Benji's story is but only on some occasions would I drive past the dumpster where he used to live, because I couldn't stand that image of him always sat on the same narrow ledge up on a wall just by the dumpster running right by the road. 

He is an approx. 16-18 week young cat/kitten that was captured for the recent large scale neutering project which took place here on the island. I didn't know he was one of them but only discovered it after I finally rescued him at the beginning of March. Because this was the first neutering project ever on this island, there was no actual after care unit set up for the neutered cats. This meant that they stayed overnight in someones garage and was released by the dumpsters the very next morning after their neutering. As you might know, you would normally be advised to keep your cat indoor for some days after an operation/neutering because it makes them vulnerable and therefore easy targets for attacks from other animals. Well, Benji was both little, sick and had just been neutered - so he was probably an easy target for whichever animal mauled him within days of his neutering. I found him one evening where I quite out of the ordinary happened to walk past the dumpster where he normally sat. He miaowed and miaowed and was quite obviously in pain. He had horrible bite wounds all over, sneezed constantly and his eyes were all watery. I knew he needed urgent medical help and it wasn't an easy decision to leave him until the next day, but I decided to give it until the next morning because the vet had already closed for the day and it would give whoever might have "cared" for him an extra chance to bring him to the vet. But of course - no surprise... he was still there the next morning crying out for help. 

So I rushed him to the vet where it was discovered upon closer examination that he had a large abcess a quarter the size of his head. He was taken into surgery on the spot where the abcess was flushed and he had his bite wounds stitched up. Afterwards I brought him home and settled him into a small quiet room of his own, so he could heal and recover in the warmth of a well padded box.

In safety inside his very own box

Well, things went well to begin with. Benji was sweet and ever so grateful. He kept rubbing my nose and purring madly whenever I handled him. He ate well for about a day and a half but then I think the actual effects of his trauma and horrible flu took over. He stopped eating and drinking. On the second day of no food and water he was brought to the vet once again to have a saline infusion and a new antibiotic treatment - this time to cure the flu. Now he actually had to be force fed (quite unpleasant) and I had to inject squirts of water into his mouth. On the fourth morning of no food and water I felt quite discouraged felt that maybe he'd lost his will to keep fighting. 

 8 days later  - wounds having healed beautifully

But... suddenly (I am convinced he must have felt how desperate I was on his behalf) he started eating ever so small nibbles of his food. I almost cried because I really felt he did it for me. But this was the beginning of Benji's recovery. From the on he gradually began to eat more and more - and drank too. I kept going with his twice a day antibiotics and thrice a day eyedrops. We had lovely little special times with eye/facial/body washes with camomille tea  (he was to poorly to take care of himself). But Benji eventually started preening himself again and did a marvelous job making his asphalt grey and dirty tummy a once again splendid pale peachy color. 

Benji and his play blanket

Since then he has just gotten stronger and stronger. He has figured out what a cat toy is for (he couldn't quite understand what playing was to begin with!). And he LOVES his play blanket. Tuck it slightly and he makes a delightful leaping jump. He is every bit as DARLING as the above image portrays. Just such a gentle little thing. 

15 days later breathing in the fresh air in the garden

The above image is from a few days ago when he had his first little trip outside once again. He liked the fresh air but loved running back into his little room again. I think it is a great part of his healing knowing he has a place to run and hide and where he knows he will be cared for with proper food, water and tons of tender loving care. 

I don't know why it took me so long to rescue Benji - he is a very special one. Can you believe the above images is actually the same cat?? I keep staring at them in disbelief. Isn't he beautiful?!

Images © Joan Rachlitz Bowell


Unknown said…
oh give my love to him, it s so great what you did and the cat now is a happy cat ! I m happy to see that !!! big hugh Kathrin
sunshine said…
Once again you bring so much inspiration to my life, there's so much to be done for animals and your efforts are once again being praised by God who has giving you the miracle of Benji's recovery.
Not only you have rescued Benji but a piece of the souls of all of us that love and care for animals. Have a wonderful Week!
Deb said…
No kitten should go through that. It saddens me so much to think of the plight of the feral cat. Thank you for helping this one. He has been through too much. I only hope for a long and love-filled life for him now. Hugs, Deb=^..^=x5
Marg said…
Oh my gosh, that is the best story. I just know we are cousins. I would have done the same thing. I just took a cat in that was a feral and had to have surgery and she is in my extra bedroom.
I am so excited that you rescued Benji. What a great name. I love the doggie in the movie Benji. I am going to put this post on my blog tomorrow, it is so great. Thanks so much and hugs to Benji.
Cosmic said…
It's amazing what a wee bit of TLC can do!(humans can be soo inresponsible and cruel)

Animals give us soo much, we have a lot to be thankful for.
Grace said…
Benji is a true lucky little fella to have crossed paths with you. I was so touched reading the story. Many people would have been afraid to jump in and help a little kitten in need. Benji is very fortunate. You have a very sweet caring heart.
Daisy said…
The transformation is amazing. Benji is gorgeous. I am so glad you were able to help him when he needed you so.
Catsparella said…
I teared up a little bit reading this! You are an angel for rescuing Benji and nursing him back to health! He is such a sweet looking little boy, and I send him all the best!
K. said…
The history of Benji is really incredible! Thank you very much for sharing it, and congratulations!
In these moments I am giving 3 liberated kittens of the street, and am giving them feeding-bottle to another 5 kittens also gathered from the street.
Catherine said…
Oh you beautiful wonderful woman! How lucky sweet little Benji was to find such a loving person such as you to rescue him. I can not believe that is the same little kitty. Truly heart breaking how people abandon their pets.

Sending you extra big hugs and kisses for yourself and Benji!!!

Love it!

xo Catherine
Hannah and Lucy said…
Thank you so much for saving Benji - it is so lucky that you saw him. He looks such a sweet little boy and we are sure you will have many happy hours together.
Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx
How sweet of you.It is hard to make that desision as taking care of animals is a lifelong commitment,but you did the right thing,bless your heart.He is beautiful,& so defensless.God bless you.phyllis
Anna E said…
He is SO adorable, and I had the exact same thought,that it didn´t look like the same cat at all!! Just the look in his eyes of pain on the first pictures, and then the totally different expression on the last pictures, where the look is open and relaxed and beginning to trust and enjoy living. Had a "perception" whilst reading the story; It came to my mind that the other parts of your house (which are being built now)could be a perfect nursery /sanctuary/hospital for cats, where they could heal and grow, like a "vildtplejestation"..idea..??! :-)
Thank you so much for helping him and giving him the chance of a healthy and loved life. He is beautiful.
Jans Funny Farm said…
What a lovely transition. So glad you rescued Benji. He is adorable!
Kathie said…
I am in tears, how could anyone do this to this precious little soul? God bless you for taking him in, isn't it amazing what some love and TLC can do to transform an animal is such a short time!
Julia Williams said…
That first picture is so hard to look at, but I kept reading because I just knew there was a happy ending for poor Benji. He's so lucky to have been rescued by you! Give him a pat and a kiss from another kitty lover.
What a happy ending to what could have been a very short and painful story. Love that last photo of Benji checking out that leaf.

Purrrrss to you both.
wildcatwoods said…
Benji is so beautiful. He is very lucky you rescued him. I did TNR on feral cats in my yard and released them next day but they were safe and protected - so sad Benji got hurt after his neuter.

Cats of Wildcat Woods
Anonymous said…
How nice that Beni has found you. All the best to you both. His a beautiful little cat.
What a wonderful story. I'm so glad you and Benji found each other. Please give him a kiss for us and we ask him to give you kitty kisses to thank you for saving him.
Debra said…
Awwww-he's adorable. You are doing a good thing...
Luzia said…
Benji is such a lovley kitten! His eyes are magic and I hope he will have a long and wonderful life. Thank you for helping him to survive! Hugs from Luzia.
Benji is one lucky little kitten to have made his way into your heart.
I work at a spay and neuter clinic, non-profit, once a month we hold a feral cat day and surgically sterize at least 150 cats, the problem is never-ending.
The majority of the rescuers keep them safe and sound for at least 3-5 days, but there are always people who have no means to do so, and release them back into the wild immediately, it's a dilemma.
Benji, looked to be on the brink of death, you are to be commended for your kind-spirit and huge heartedness, I think you may have gained a friend for life, in return.
( came your way via {Phylis's View and so glad I did )
Bitch said…
You found a soul which is loving you without
wishing nothing in return..
Well, maybe a few strokes. and hugs..
Greetings from Athens
Dearest Joan,

WHAT an incredible story and how much reveals about your heart! My goodness, look at the big and happy eyes of Benji! He arrived in heaven. Timely, but he made it thanks to your loving care.
Lots of love,

Dearest Joan,
Little did I know in my previous comment that we too would find such an abandoned and abused baby up in our magnolia tree. The tooth problem you described is from a very week immune system I guess, our Smokey has had constant problems with his gums and he still has spiky fur from his thick saliva... Hope we will over come this one day. And yes, they have to learn how to play as they never could be a real baby. Sad fact but so good that those found LOVE after all.
Hugs to you sweet lady.

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