Benny by Joni Gallo / Joni

Benny was given to me when he was just a few weeks old. He was so tiny. He soon grew into a little terror on four legs. He would constantly bite me and the other cats, especially my 14 year old female Maine Coon, Laura, until she screamed. I didn’t know if I could keep him because no matter how much I played with him, he continued to bite unmercifully.

One day, when Benny was about 3 months old, he got very sick and stopped eating. It was the weekend and I couldn’t reach a vet. I feared he would die and I just held him all night in my arms, begging him not to go and telling him that I really did want to keep him. The next day he woke up and ate as if nothing had happened. I called him my “miracle cat.”

After this, Benny was completely different. He rarely bit me or the other cats again. He became cuddly and loving, a little bundle of joy that I looked forward to coming home to everyday. He followed me around the house and was interested in everything I was doing. As Laura turned 15 and began to have kidney problems, Benny would lie beside her as if to comfort her. They became the best of friends.

Benny had little fear. He would stick his head under a running water faucet, get into anything and everything that was lying around the house, and, unfortunately, dart outside the moment I opened the front door. There was no way to keep him in the house,
as much as I wanted to.

Outside, Benny seemed to have one fear: cars. The minute he heard one coming down the street, he’d run to the front door. I didn’t worry about him going into the street the way I did my other outdoor cats. He seemed to be well aware of the danger.

One night, I went to work at night and Benny got outside. He wouldn’t go back into the house, no matter how much I begged and so, I had to let him be. On my way home, I had car trouble and had to call a tow truck. As I was waiting at the shop to hear about the car, I thought of Benny and was filled with a sense of panic. I couldn’t ignore my feelings and decided to just get home as fast as possible, running the whole way.

I got to the house and Benny did not come to greet me, as usual. My orange cat, Sunny, looked very upset as he went into the house with me. Laura, who never budged from the dining room table except to use the litter box, jumped from the table, looked at me with desperation, and began crying. It was in that moment that I knew something really was wrong with Benny.

I ran around outside the house looking for any sign of my “little guy”. I found Benny back behind my garage, in some one’s driveway off the alley way. He looked like he was asleep but his body was already cold. I picked him up and took him into the yard. Sunny and Benny’s 3 year old playmate, Pippin, just stood by, watching me as I began screaming and sobbing, feeling the worst pain that I had ever felt. How could I lose him when I had just begun to know him and to love him! It was unfair. It was cruel. I could make no sense of it. I wanted some one to blame but none of my neighbors had seen what happened. Benny had little visible injuries so it was impossible to tell how he died.

The house is emptier without Benny. It’s still hard for me to get through a day without crying because I miss him so much. I find myself wishing constantly that I had not let Benny get outside that day, that I had got my car looked at sooner, that I had not gone to work, or even that I had quit that stupid job. I want so desperately to undo that day, but I can’t. Benny’s gone and nothing can change that. I hope someday I can forgive myself and remember my “little guy” without the terrible sense of pain and loss I feel now.

I want to believe he’s still with me, watching over me, that there’s a reason for his passing, but I don’t know. I don’t know what I believe in anymore. I only hope that wherever Benny is, he’s doing what he loved best – playing, exploring, and causing all kinds of mischief.


All my love,
Joni Gallo