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