I sent the people at the cat shelter a note a few days ago saying that we were very happy with Gentle Ben and that he seemed to be settling in nicely, and the occasional nippiness they’d mentioned had almost entirely dissipated. (Which it has. Now if he’s in a disembowel-the-hand mood, he generally swings at you–and I mean that literally, it’s an almost slow-motion kind of swat, and no teeth at all. I can definitely live with that–I don’t demand the cat be an absolute pacifist, just that he give me plenty of time to get out of the way.)

They wrote back to say that yeah, they’d thought the nippiness was frustration with being cooped up more than anything else–it didn’t start to manifest until late in his stay–and that they were delighted he was doing well, they loved getting notes like that, and would let all the volunteers know, because everybody knew Ben! (And rightly so. The big lug spent so much time on my lap this morning that he gave me a leg-cramp. I begrudge him nothing.)

The thing that kills me–and which I shouldn’t dwell on, because I’ve got PMS and it’s so easy to dwell–is that Ben was at the shelter for two and a half months. (Shit, I’d get nippy, too–Safe Haven was, as James put it, like a kitty resort, but still, that’s a long time to be in even a large cage.)

And he’s a superb cat! The hugging makes humans melt into little puddles of goo, he’s not the slightest bit malicious, he’s been absolutely conciliatory to Athena, he’s social and not in the least nervous, he changed his behavior the minute I managed to communicate that I wasn’t enjoying shred-Mister-Hand as much as he was, he doesn’t spray, he’s good about using the scratching post–I mean, I’ve had great cats and lousy cats and generally indifferent cats, and I strongly suspect that Ben will be one of the great ones. He’s got personality comin’ out of every major orifice.*

And if Safe Haven hadn’t been a no-kill shelter, given the usual two-week stay at a shelter, he’d have been put down six times over.

This just kills me.

It wasn’t as big a deal with Athena–she was also a shelter cat, out of a foster program, but after six weeks with the fosterer, she was up for adoption for about half the morning before I took her home. And this struck me as perfectly sensible, because she was also an obviously excellent cat (if dumber than a sack of wet mice) who licked me and purred when I picked her up. Naturally someone should adopt her within a day! Who wouldn’t?

But two and a half months! Sweet blithering christ! Why?!

I mean, I know why. I know all the reasons we have too many strays and that people like kittens and whatnot, but I still sort of want to grab the world by the lapels on Ben’s behalf and shake it until its teeth rattle until it explains why, in a properly run universe, this sort of thing is allowed to go on.

Whew. Okay, got that out of my system. Mostly.

I think I’ll send Safe Haven my charity donation this year…

*Some of which…damn. I’ve heard that Iams food leads to stinky byproducts, but the Royal Kanin Venison & Green Pea food could give it a definite run for the money. Still, you can hardly blame the cat.

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