Benny the Cat’s story aims to raise awareness of domestic violence to humans and pets • Long Beach Post News

Benny the Cat’s story aims to raise awareness of domestic violence to humans and pets • Long Beach Post News

Beverly Leifer fell madly in love with Benny the first time she saw him at the shelter.

“It was his face—the big, round eyes, the crooked smile. And then, I found out his story,” she said.

Benny had been brought to Long Beach Animal Care Services under another name. He was the victim of severe abuse at the hands of an adult. He had been squeezed several times until his ribs cracked and thrown against a shower wall. The impact broke his jaw. The poor cat was only 7 months old when he was brought in, and it wasn’t known how long the abuse had gone on. He nearly died of it.

They have your back, Benny: Justice for traumatized cat

The mother of the abuser’s girlfriend had brought the little cat in to the shelter; the girlfriend’s 5-year-old child came along and told about the abuse. The child later recanted their story, and the abuser was not prosecuted. There was no justice for Benny the Cat, as his first Beverly-created Facebook page was called. The intent of the page was a letter- and email-writing campaign fueled by Beverly’s fury that the abuser hadn’t been charged and arrested.

“I was so angered and saddened every time I looked at the adorable face with the crooked smile, I just cried,” she said. “After a while of that, I looked at him living life, playing with his siblings, and I thought, you know what? He’s got his justice! Benny is surviving and thriving, and that’s his justice. So, I changed the page—it has a different purpose now—raising awareness of resilience, survivorship and the link between animal abuse and domestic violence—a huge mission! And to spread joy and hope!” The page is now titled Benny the Cat’s Justice.

Beverly said that the shelter had spent what funds they could on Benny’s surgery and was trying to get approval for what might have amounted to around $10,000. Beverly had wanted to adopt him. The Helen Sanders CatPAWS rescue contacted Beverly and offered to foot the surgery bill if Beverly would foster to adopt. The offer didn’t require any forethought on Beverly’s part, and so CatPAWS pulled Benny and paid for the doctor visits, surgery and neutering. That was touch-and-go because Benny had a heart murmur on top of everything.

“He needed his left hip repaired to allow him to walk,” Beverly said. “His jaw was misaligned [after initial surgery], but he was drinking, eating and breathing well. Doing more [fixing the jaw] would have been a much longer haul.”

But, as Beverly said, Benny survived. And thrived. During the cat’s recovery from his surgical procedures and the months following, Beverly updated the Facebook page, started a Benny Instagram account, and shared his story everywhere. She put together a picture storybook about his life, entered him in Catster magazine’s America’s Favorite Pet contest in 2021 in which he made finals, and had multiple articles written about Benny and his link to domestic-violence awareness.

In August 2019, Beverly held a birthday bash celebrating Benny’s second birthday. It was a notable event considering doubts as to whether Benny would have been around to celebrate his first year. Proceeds from the event went to Long Beach Animal Care Services and to Helen Sanders CatPAWS in gratitude for what they’d done for him.

COVID-19 prevented anything other than a couple of subsequent virtual birthday bashes, but Benny’s pulling out all the stops for his fifth birthday party, which will take place Saturday, Aug. 27. Proceeds will again go to CatPAWS. (See Great furballs of fun for details.)

“Now, we’re going back to an in-person event,” Beverly said. “We want to raise awareness of animal cruelty, and Benny’s resilience. He’s the ambassador of joy and hope, as our volunteer Lance said, and we want to spread that around.”

Meanwhile, Benny’s leading a wonderful life with his loving, attentive human and enjoying the heck out of it. As with all abuse and violence victims, though, recovery is never final either emotionally or physically.

“I honestly believe he has nightmares—he violently thrashes, he’ll fall off the cat tree or the couch,” Beverly said. “They aren’t seizures—I’m convinced it’s mental. After, he just goes back to sleep. Any other time, he’s just loving life. I take him out in the stroller, and he loves attention from people. Even with the permanent injuries, he’s a remarkable being. Someone called him a warrior and not just a survivor.”

Cutest baby ever! Benny enjoys the scenery as he takes his morning stroll. Photo courtesy of Benny the Cat’s Justice.

Unfortunately, Benny recently demonstrated some pain and instability, and Beverly found that it’s arthritis from his abuse injuries, at only 5 years old. The instability in his leg can never be fully fixed, and that limits him, too. She said that he’ll have to deal with flare ups from it his entire life.

“I hope it’s a long one,” she said. “It’s brought up anger and grief in me, but I look at him and see that it doesn’t stop him from being Benny. I credit LBACS medical staff, employees and volunteers, the cruelty investigators and volunteers, and CatPAWS for what they did for Benny. When I agreed to foster him through his surgery and his remarkably fast recovery, I didn’t go in blindly—I knew that the future held issues. I thought it might be later and not while he’s so young. That’s where my anger returns but also a resolve to help him go through the flare ups as best as possible.”

Benny was fortunate that an adult in the abusive home brought Benny to the shelter and that Beverly and Benny found each other, but that’s one happy case out of too many. If you know anyone suffering domestic violence whether they have pets, children or are just by themselves, please access the resources at the beginning of the article.

Virtually pets

Helen Sanders CatPAWS has rescued so many cats, some in conditions nearly as dreadful as Benny’s. They’re thriving now and are ready to go home. Check them out here, and fill out an adoption form to prequalify. Here are a few of the cuddlers, in pre-Halloween orange-and-black mode!

light-orange cat held by human. Her front legs fold over the arm.

Mimosa is a stunning young strawberry blonde, spirited and a little sassy! Refreshing and bubbly, this sweet, petite beauty is a somewhat rare ginger girl, and she’s smart and funny. Mimosa’s OK with another cat as long as that cat is chill and properly deferential. Mimosa—a perfect treat for a lazy Sunday morning—and any day!

cat with orange mask and white body reclines on a patterned sheet and looks at camera

Every CatPAWS cat is a rare—um, bird, but the rescue seems to be taking in a considerable number of orange females! Mary Poppins is another—a young adult who really deserves a home of her own. Magical Mary Poppins was a doting mom to her own babies—and even a couple of orphaned kittens!—and now, it needs to be her turn! Please ask about this sweet momma!

shiny black cat with collar and tag sits up straight, cocks head, and looks at camera.

No, this isn’t an oil painting—it’s a great photo of Koopa! With his bright. amber eyes, this sleek and handsome house panther is a loving, furry work of art. Inquisitive and engaging, he wants to be part of your home!

beautiful, sleek black cat sprawls, head up, on a bright-orange surface.

And this isn’t an onyx sculpture. Princess Peach is yet another sleek, slick beauty. This princess would like to be part of your kingdom and sit on a cushy throne!

Great furballs of fun!

FOLBA’s 33rd Anniversary Celebration and Casino Event: Friday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m., The Modern, 2801 E. Spring St., Long Beach, tickets $50, $75 and $100, see details and purchase tickets here

The most venerable animal-welfare organization in Long Beach is celebrating 33 years of helping our city’s pets: funding surgical procedures at the shelter, paying for countless spay/neuter procedures, giving grants to animal rescues for their operations, funding special projects for clinics and shelters—too many to count on the toe beans of four paws. As you can tell by the continuing need in our community and communities everywhere, Friends of Long Beach Animals is nowhere near done working; however, they have lots of good stuff to celebrate! To combine the two, FOLBA is proud to present a night of casino games and fundraising (dress to impress!). Enjoy a full bar, participate in raffles, stuff your face with food, meet some adoptables and two beneficiaries of FOLBA’s efforts, and have a chance to be on Pawz TV. All money raised will help fund FOLBA’s good works. Hey, if you wanna gamble your money away, here’s the best way possible!

Benny the Cat’s 5th birthday party and fundraiser: Saturday, Aug. 27, 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Marina Community Center, 151 Marina Drive, Seal Beach, tickets $20, children 10 and younger free.

Benny, the brave little cat who nearly lost his life to domestic abuse, is now living the life and is ready to celebrate his fifth birthday. He wants you to come to the party! He promises games, raffles, live entertainment, vendors, food, party favors and kittens for adoption. Of course, he’ll be the guest of honor. Purrrr-chase your tickets here! All money raised at Benny’s fifth birthday party will help his fellow kitties at Helen Sanders CatPAWS, the organization that paid for his surgery. That’s the only birthday present he’s asked for!

A helping paw

Council District 8 announces 60-day amnesty for new or late pet licensing fees for designated residents

A resolution introduced by Councilman Al Austin and passed by the City Council provides a temporary amnesty program that waives a first-time pet licensing fee and late penalty fee for an expired pet license for residents of Community Development Block Grant-designated areas in Long Beach can apply to an HUD grant program that will waive fees for new and late pet licenses until Aug. 23. Access this map to determine whether you live in a CDBG zone, or call 562-570-1326 or email [email protected].

12 months of pets!

 The pet calendars are getting an early start! Enter your own calendar grrrls or purrrrls and help fund rescues and their good works!

Show Us Your Kitties!, Helen Sanders CatPAWS, votes $5 each, reserved days $15 each, closes Sept. 3, deadline extended

 Help Helen Sanders CatPAWS raise money to save cats from public shelters! Submit a photo of your kitty, or vote for your favorite feline in the contest. You can also submit a kitty photo for a special day on the calendar. The top vote winner at the conclusion of the contest will have their choice of month to feature their cat as a pinup pm on the calendar. The next 12 top-vote recipients will become Helen Sanders CatPAWS Calendar Cats for each of the remaining calendar months between January 2023 and January 2024. Up to six runner-up photos after the top 13 vote recipients will be featured with larger photos and name on the front cover! Enter now at this link!

a tan German shepherd with a black muzzle licks the face of a young woman with blond hair wearing a white shortsleeve blouse. Another young woman with long, curly, auburn hair wearing a shortsleeve black garment stands to the right. Palms are in background.

Photo courtesy of Foster2Furever


Foster for awhile—or furever!

If you’ve always wanted a pet but aren’t sure if you’re ready for a lifetime (the animal’s) commitment, or if you’re past the pet-roommate days for any reason, fostering might be a great way to go, especially with one or more of the kittens popping up during kitten season. Every one of the organizations listed below is in desperate need of fosters who’ll social them and help save their little lives. Who knows—maybe one of those lives will change your mind about the not-ready-for-roommate thing!

These nonprofits also regularly feature cat, dog and rabbit adoptions. As of now, adoptions are mainly by appointment. Click on the links for each rescue in case of updates or changes. These organizations operate through donations and grants, and anything you can give would be welcome. Please suggest any Long Beach-area rescues to add to the list.

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