Merry Christmas, Benjamin Boodles


December 28, 2022

If you have watched any of the Hallmark Christmas movies, as I have, you will notice a pattern very quickly. The story begins with a problem, be it a person’s job, boyfriend/girlfriend/ lack of money, etc. The movie then slowly twists and turns until you get the perfect Christmas ending. Good people get rewards and live happily ever after, along with perfect Christmas decorations and gifts. I have read about why we watch. It awakens the hopeful child in all of us that wish for a happy ending in life. The story I am about to tell is like a Hallmark movie, except it is even better. It’s a true story with a happy ending!

This Christmas story starts way back in August of this year. It begins with an animal, a cat, to be precise, who has nothing at this point. It has no reliable shelter, food, or safety. Its life is precarious as it tries to find food, water, and some peace in their little life each day—certainly a story of survival to challenge any Hallmark store.

I first noticed this nondescript little grey tabby in August. We see many stray cats wander through our yard. Sporadically they appear, and I make sure there is outside water and sneak out some food ( sorry, Ken), but there it is. I noticed this tabby more than the others I saw. After that first encounter, he stared at me and would scramble over our fence every morning and evening when I was feeding our chickens and goats. I began speaking to him, and he would stare at me from a distance. He started getting closer, and I would spot him staring through the patio doors at me during the day. Naturally, I fed him, but I did others, and they did not seem to want to get to know me. After several days of this strange relationship, I began watching for him day, evening, and between. I began to wonder where he went for safety in the night. I had noticed if a bigger cat came into the yard, he would streak out in a panic. That told me a lot.

I began to think I should “live trap” this fellow and at least get him neutered and vaccinated. This would give him a better chance out in the world. I have done this with ten cats since coming to Big Sandy and know the drill by now. I began by booking Erica Chauvet. We could get this done quickly. I began setting the little fellow’s food in the trap. For two days, he entered the trap and ate with no consequence. The third day was to be the Big Day. Naturally, he did not appear. I wondered if he had a sixth sense! Two days went by, and no little tabby. I realized how attached I had become and began searching the neighborhood, sick with worry about what might have befallen the poor little guy. In the back of my mind, I realized I did not want just to get him fixed up by Erica; I wanted him in my life.

By the third day, I began to think I would never see him again. Later that morning, I spotted him lingering in the yard, looking hopefully at the door. I ran out, telling him how I had missed him and what he had been doing. Out came the food, and in went the tabby. He was caught. Surprisingly he made no fuss and just stared at me bleakly. I reassured him I would see nothing bad happen.

That morning, we went to the vet

. He was neutered and given an antibiotic shot, pain shot, and vaccinations. He had no ear mites, but shockingly he had something much worse. Erica found two healing wounds, which she cleaned up, and one very large gash along his side that required many stitches to close. Without me intervening, it’s highly unlikely he would have lived long. I brought him to our back porch and into a huge cage, we use for dogs that are healing. He could see the outside through the windows, and I put a little tent and bed in his cage, where he loved to hide. Naturally, he got a litter box, food, and water. When you bring an animal who has been a stray into your house, and you have other animals, the stray must spend two weeks in quarantine till their vaccination takes effect and they can safely enter your home without giving something to the others. So began his exile. I would go out several times during the day and talk to him. I also read to my captive audience. He listened intently but voiced no opinion. After about a week, we let him loose on the back porch. He could enter his cage with all his needs as he wished. At this point, Ken thought he was good to be released back outside. Oh, dear. We were not on the same page, it seemed.

Never fear, onward ever onward. The next step was letting him access the bathroom and kitchen on the main floor. Fortunately, we have a door closing these rooms from the rest of the house. His biggest problem was Sweetheart, who we had taken in about five years ago. She disliked him hissingly intensely. He mewed frantically, loving her at first sight. He began to reenact Pepe La Pew (a skunk) from a cartoon who pursued a cat. He loved her, yes, loved her and she hated, yes, hated him. They were here and then there and then settled, watching the other closely. This continued for a few days until I felt the time had come for him to enter the house as a full-fledged member. By this time, I had named him Benjamin. Benjamin Boodles Denning.

He is doing very well in the house. He uses the scratching post after watching Sweetheart; he knows when it’s time to go to bed, and he goes( with the promise of treats, of course). He has been reprimanded from time to time when something he thought was a good time was not. He is now a member of the family. He sits on the window sills watching and chittering at birds and other cats. He naps, chases around as kittens will do, and naps in a Lazy Boy on a soft blue blanket.

Evening times are best as he jumps onto my blanket-covered lap and watches TV. Yes, he actually watches, for a while, and then bored with human idiocy, he cuddles down and sleeps. I can pick him up and cuddle him just as if he has always been with me.

I discovered something concerning when I began to handle him. I located four bumps under his skin, back, tail, chest, and ribs. I had it checked out and discovered to my horror and

disgust, that they were BBs. Someone had shot this poor little guy. These stray cats are not roaming due to their fault. They are there because people have not got their cats spayed or neutered. It’s because some people have not been taught how to treat animals. I can not fathom what joy someone would get hurting an animal. If you see this happening, please step up and stop it. Perhaps you can’t take a cat in, but you can set up shelter and food. You can have them neutered or spayed, so this continuous group of unloved and unwanted cats finally stops. At Christmas, we are besieged with requests to help people. Please find it in your heart to help animals with no voice.

So now we reach the end of the story. Benjamin Boodles awaits Christmas with anticipation. We will put only unbreakables on the tree at first. He was testing the water, as it were. He will get bits of turkey and likely a gift! He will be dazzled by the Xmas tree lights and enjoy the comfy evenings wrapped on my lap in his blanket. This picture rivals any Hallmark ending.! One of the least in Big Sandy has got his heart’s desire. MERRY CHRISTMAS, DEAR BENJAMIN BOODLES!!!


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