His ears are battered with spots of hair missing and ragged edges. His head from the back shows his true soul which is endearing and full. His eyes golden open wide with expression and question. His body now round and full presenting an overall look of content.
Benson came to me quite by accident. He was living in the alley behind old buildings in the small dusty Texas town where I currently live. He was sickly, skinny with a battered spirit and body. He was trying to survive as best he could in a less then desirable environment. I fed him daily sensing that he at one time had a home and may still. Yet it wasn’t a good home. Then one day a guy living in the area said he was going to shoot him because he was a nuisance…well you know it is Texas and all. They like their guns here and they think cats are nothing more then a bigger version of rodents. Few really like them and after all they see shooting anything as a justifiable sport. Macho you know with the gun thing going caboom. All that power in their hand.
I wasn’t about to allow anyone to shoot or further abuse this dear orange guy. So I set a carrier out with shrimp inside and he happily walked in, ate and laid down. A woman was to give him a home, of course did not. She did take him to the vet for his privates to be altered a bit to sooth the need to fight. I was paying for all of this so that he would have a home. The morning of his scheduled pickup to return to his new home, an email popped into my in box saying she just could not take him. So I went to the vet’s and brought him home.
It wasn’t easy at first. He slapped, bit and clawed. He I know felt trapped perhaps not knowing for sure where he was or why he did not have the great outdoors to roam. Then suddenly he settled in. He enjoyed the big bed that was all his. The cozy sofa to lay on and watch television. He enjoyed the fabulous food served. Tuna, chicken, turkey and treats…oh my goodness the treats. He loved all the food soon becoming quite a guy.
The fondness began to sink in both for him and for me. He realized there was no harm in giving a hug or enjoying to the point of purring madly, having his head stroked or his back rubbed. He learned that if he sat on his hind quarters and stretched tall then he could have more back rubbed, plus his tummy as well. He has learned to maneuver about to gain the best of a hug. He holds on for dear life and knows the routine of how to gain a hug.
He more then enjoys his toys which took a while. I suppose he question what the lifeless things were laying around offering no chase. So I guess in his mind most are now killed and ripped apart with stuffing strewn across his room all a result of wildly tossing them in the air, catching them in his mouth and prancing around the room. Death for the toys seems to come in the night with a surprise waiting in the morning somewhere and the catnip tucked inside long gone.
At times I think I really need to find a home for him where he will be the only cat yet he gives me that look and my heart melts. He squirms when someone comes and looks at me as if to question if they are here to take him away. It is a heartbreaking expression and so we continue our routine. We work on tolerating the other cats. We work on manners. We work on understanding this is not the wild alley. Most of all though it is about Benson knowing he has a home. He has food. He is safe and he will never have to roam the alley again or face down the guy with a gun.
For all of that, Benson offers back a lot of love and gratitude and I suppose he is here to stay because he is a dear soul that seems to have lived many lives already. And it takes a long time to over come the fear from some of those lives yet he visibly tries. He shows his sweetness and then offers a gentle nibble, turning quickly to look if that is considered a bite or is that considered a kiss. He now offers only kisses something it took a while to learn yet he so smartly has.
Benson and I move through each day and each day is better then the previous. The reward is the love of Benson and that is a mighty fine reward.