A little small kitten at Jelly’s Place shelter in San Pablo, California, was found as a stray and what appeared to be little hope to be adopted. When people approached her cage, the scared little thing would hiss and retract with her entire body.
The shelter’s staff decided to reach out to Kendal Benken, one of their seasoned feral kitten whisperers to observe the little kitten. Benken is known for her talent. She and her crew of rescue dogs and cats can make even the most distressed animals feel like a part of the family.
After minutes of observing the kitten,, Benken decided the 5-week-old Siamese wasn’t frightening, but was likely frightened.
Benken explained that, “No one could touch her. She was very angry. She was a little, tiny demon. It was a fear reaction. She probably had never been handled. She acted so aggressively. She was hissing. She was adorable, though.”
Benken tenderly swaddled the kitten, put her in a crate and drove her house. Still being grumpy after arriving, Benken just knew that she would soon be a new kitten, and decided to name her Betty. “She had those [Bette] Davis eyes, huge, pretty blue eyes. She looked like a Betty to me.”
“I put her in a big dog crate with food, water and a litter box. She could not run and hide. With feral kittens, the best thing you can do is force them out of their comfort zone and put them in a busy part of your house.”
Soon, Benken’s family of rescue animals came over to check out Betty. Everyone would gather around her and one of the animals in Benken’s home, Truvy, a giant yellow Lab mix who loves foster kittens, was the most excited to make a new friend. “Truvy has a special gift. She gravitates toward the rescues. I think she fancies herself as a mama cat. Truvy was very fascinated by Betty,” Benken said.
After some days, Betty started to loosen up and find her place in the family. She decided that she liked being held and pet, and also in a breakthrough moment, Betty even claimed Truvy as her new friend.
“Betty just crawled onto Truvy, made herself comfortable, and wouldn’t move. Truvy was afraid to move because she knew Betty was on her. It was the sweetest thing. Truvy was delighted Betty finally returned her affection.”
The hissing, scary kitten had suddenly been transformed into a sweet, social family member after getting the right friend.
As Betty’s foster mom, Benken was very particular about who would adopt her. But when Benken interviewed Roz Westil, she couldn’t have been happier.
“I spoke to Roz and knew she was the right one for Betty. She’s just such a great cat, and I wanted her to go to someone who would treat her so well,” Benken said.
And Westil said as soon as she spoke to Benken, she knew Betty was right for her. “It was serendipity,” Westil told The Dodo. “She sent me the picture of Betty on top of the dog, and I thought, ‘How can I not adopt her?’”
Soon enough little Betty was adopted by Roz Westil, who off course Benken approved too. Betty did take some time to warm up to Westil and her new home.“I figured she was scared. I kept her in a secure environment, and slowly expanded that environment and I let her tell me what she wanted to do,” Westil said. But after all that little Betty found her forever home and is friendly, secure and a very curious cat who can make anyone laugh.
“Betty sleeps in my bed; she cuddles, she’s such a loving little cat. She’s beautiful.”