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Over the next several months, I will be traveling across the country in search of cat stories, visiting innovative cat rescues and shelters, interviewing eccentric cat lovers, leading vets and behaviorists and so much more. To view my travel schedule and learn more about my Cat Behaviorist business, please visit . If I will be in your area and you feel you have some interesting cat stories to share, please don't hesistate to contact me via my website.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ben chose my daughter, April. She was only three at the time. Five years later she is just starting to understand how special that is. This handsome tomcat was probably about a year old when our neighbor, Peggy, found him in the parking lot of a Marriot hotel. She brought him home to join her menagerie of rescued kitties. Being the jovial sort, he immediately endeared himself to the neighborhood. Each day, when April and I would go for our afternoon stroll, Ben would follow us. He adored April, rubbing and purring on her, tripping her little legs so that she would land on her bottom and he could nuzzle her hair. At first, I tried to discourage him from following us. I was terrified that he would get lost. But he was very clever and insistent. So we were just very careful about crossing streets and I would pick him up whenever a car approached, making sure that he returned safely home at the end of the walk.

But Ben’s obvious ardor for April grew—he insisted upon visiting her in our home, wanting to join her for naptime (much to the chagrin of my other cats!) Finally, Peggy declared that Ben was clearly meant to be April’s cat and she released from any claim to him. We were delighted! And immediately took our virile boy to the vet to be neutered.

He indulged April’s every whim, letting her dress him up in doll clothes and push him around in a stroller. He comforted her through tears and tantrums. Even now, when my highly emotional daughter will embark on one of her rages—I can call Ben, and our self-taught ‘pet assisted therapy cat’ will trot to her side, comforting and calming her until the episode is over.

He purrs for all of us—but he reserves his ‘cheetah purr’ for April. Late at night, when Ben and April lay with their heads on the same pillow, I will waken on the other side of the house to the loud pulse of his deep, resonant purr—his April purr that sounds just like a Cheetah.

I tell her how unique it is to be truly chosen by a cat the way that Ben chose her. She doesn’t fully understand, but she does love and cherish him. The other day she asked me how long Ben would live? I told her that we feed him only the best food and take excellent care of him in the hopes that he will live a long time, perhaps long enough to see her off to college. It is possible. I certainly hope so.

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