Local cat rescue helps abuse survivor Benny

Benny. Courtesy photo

The notes the animal shelter staff made upon intake were chilling and heartbreaking, and it was clear from x-rays of poorly healed, older injuries that the abuse had been going on for Benny’s whole short 6 months of life. The cat had suffered a fractured jaw and skull, pelvic injuries and broken bones. He wobbled as he tried to walk and sometimes fell over, a consequence of neurological injuries that were deemed permanent.

After months in a public shelter being held as evidence, his acute injuries treated and kept as comfortable as possible, Benny was released by the shelter for rescue or adoption. Due to the extent of his injuries, he would need further, expensive surgery to remove a broken femoral head and possibly dental surgery to help re-align his jaw.

Learning of the plight of this sweet cat, the horrific details of his life, Seal Beach area foster-based rescue Helen Sanders CatPAWS contacted the shelter to get him out and take over his medical care. They secured a foster and started making the appointments with veterinary specialists he needed to proceed with healing his physical injuries. The first appointment was with a veterinary cardiologist since Benny had a heart murmur which would need to be evaluated before he could undergo anesthesia and surgery. Fortunately, tests revealed that he had no actual structural damage or abnormality, that the heart murmur seemed to be exacerbated by stress and seemed to abate once he was in a quiet, foster home environment. While all were relieved to learn there was no damage, it was saddening to realize the stress he had endured to nearly literally break his heart.

According to the rescue, there is an ongoing investigation of the abuser who was, according to shelter reports, a boyfriend of the woman who took Benny to the shelter after the last incident of abuse which precipitated her surrendering him. The rescue was not provided further details other than some graphic notes in the shelter medical records on how the trauma had been sustained. According to volunteer Deborah Felin-Magaldi, there is often a strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence. “We don’t know if that is the case here,” she stated, “but we know that sometimes a spouse or partner is afraid to leave an abusive relationship, and afraid to leave a pet who might be killed but has nowhere to go”. She continued, “animal abuse is a crime in its own right, but it often signals other issues. As with so many things, if you see something, say something. You might be saving several lives.”

As for Benny, he has one surgery behind him to repair his hips and enable him to walk without pain and may have more ahead of him. The volunteer who is fostering him said that despite the horror he survived, he is friendly and purring and happy. She related that he sometimes trembles in his sleep, his body shaking and twitching and wonders if he is reliving the violence that was visited on his helpless body. She hopes whatever painful memories he may have will fade as he realizes with each passing day that he is safe and loved.

And that he has a forever home, since his foster caregiver has fallen in love with this brave survivor and will adopt him.

For more information about CatPAWS, visit www.helensanderscatpaws.com.