A stray kitty’s heartwarming story of finding his forever home has catapulted him to online fame and garnered him fans from around the world.
In the spring, a B.C. SPCA officer found the stray and took him to the Vancouver Animal Emergency and Referral Centre, where he was found to be suffering from a crushed spine, puncture wounds, infected lacerations and a damaged ear. After being treated in the ER by staff, including veterinary technician Sandy Windover, the cat was transferred to the B.C. SPCA hospital.
Although some people had expressed an interest in adopting BenBen, those plans fell through because of his ongoing medical needs and he was scheduled to euthanized. Windoverand Adam Tutt saved the day and adopted BenBen in April – the day before he was scheduled to be put down.
BenBen’s story has gone viral online, after he was dubbed the “saddest cat on the internet” when a photo of him started to circulate. The couple has chronicled BenBen’s life with his “hoomans” and promoted the message of “adopt don’t shop” on social media, where the New Westminster cat has amassed more than 42,000 followers on Instagram and more than 14,000 likes on Facebook.
The Record recently chatted with Windover about life with BenBen and his rise to fame.
Q: Given all of his medical needs, what made you decide to adopt him?
A: We decided to adopt him because he's just a baby, and we believe, even if animals are broken or "not normal,” they deserve a second chance and a loving home.
Q: Is it true you had to line your floor with yoga mats when you first brought him home?
A: Aw, yes it's true. We lined our apartment with many yoga mats that people donated so that he would have traction on our floors. Our apartment has linoleum and because he was having a hard time walking and moving at the start, he would slip and fall. The yoga mats helped keep him upright while he got stronger.
Q: How is his health now?
A: His health is great now. He has a ravenous appetite and is now running and jumping. He will forever have his cauliflower ear and his spine is permanently damaged. We will keep him on pain meds for life to keep him comfortable.
Q: Did you name him BenBen. What’s behind the name?
A: His full name is Benjamin Button and the SPCA picked it for him and it suits him perfect. Because of his spine he walks like he's an old man but he's actually less than two years old - he ages in reverse. We nicknamed him BenBen for short.
Q: Does BenBen have any favourite activities in his forever home?
A: One of his favourite activities is truck rides. He absolutely loves going for a drive. He falls asleep and purrs and looks out the window at everything. It's super cute. BenBen loves Adam. He cuddles with him and plays and follows him around like a puppy. Plus those sad eyes looked right into his soul and his heart just melted. Being loved by an animal is one of the best feelings in the world.
Q: Do you have other pets – and how does BenBen get along with them
A: We do have two other cats, and BenBen is like the younger brother - he wants to play and chase them. It's cute. Our other cats are five years and eight years, so they are little past the rambunctious kitten stage but they are learning to play with him. He watches them and copies what they do - it's so adorable. The whole family is so perfect.
Q: Why did you start an Instagram and Facebook account for BenBen?
A: We started his Facebook and Instagram account so we'd have a spot to post his progress for everyone that was involved in his care, and so we can show our family and friends how adorable he is.
Q: Are you surprised by the worldwide interest in BenBen’s story?
A: We are more than surprised with the worldwide interest in his story. We thought maybe a handful of people would be moved by his story but turns out the world is moved by this little guy who transformed with a second chance at a forever home.
Q: How is he handling his sudden fame?
A: He is handling the new fame so well. He gets very interested when the camera comes out, and he loves that we take him almost everywhere to meet new people.
Q: Are you still raising money to help other animals in need?
A: We are still raising money to help other stray animals and shelters. It's very early in the fundraising, but we are planning to keep the campaign open as long as possible and raise not only money but awareness that there are so many loving animals in shelters that need homes.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to folks considering adopting a pet?
A: To the folks who are considering adopting we say please, please do it! There are so many shelters in our area and so many different pets in them! Just because a fur baby may not have the perfect face or look like a 'purebred' does not mean they don't deserve a home too!
You can follow BenBen’s progress on Instagram at benbencatcat and on Facebook at @benbencatcatt. Because not every stray has a happy ending like BenBen, his owners have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to help other strays in need of medical attention and supplies. More info is available at www.gofundme.com/benben-fundfund-for-animals-in-need