When Michele Hoffman, president and co-founder of Milo’s Sanctuary in Palmdale, California, was contacted about a blind, homeless kitten, she was eager to help the young special needs cat. “Benny was living on the streets of Los Angeles and being fed by someone,” explains Michele. “He wasn’t neutered and he was blind and very scared — not a good life for any cat but especially a blind one.”
Michele accepted Benny into the Lifetime Care Program at Milo’s Sanctuary, providing him with a safe and happy home where he would be cared for indefinitely. “We felt so bad for this poor blind baby living on the streets of Los Angeles,” says Michele, “and we were also concerned that he wasn’t neutered and because he was born with a congenital birth defect, we didn’t want him breeding more blind cats.”
However, on the day Benny was scheduled to arrive at the sanctuary, he escaped from the home where he was living temporarily, only to end up disoriented, alone, and miles from his usual territory. For more than a week, everyone involved in Benny’s rescue searched the area, hoping they would be able to locate this young blind cat before it was too late.
Miraculously, Benny was recovered at the end of September 2018, an extremely significant moment in this young cat’s short life. “He was found 11 days later under a house, dehydrated, starving, and with badly infected eyes,” remembers Michele. “We rushed him immediately to our vets and he spent two days at the hospital — getting strong enough to be neutered and microchipped — and then he came to the sanctuary.”
Benny, who was most likely born in early 2018, was approximately nine months old when he arrived at his new home, and he is still in the process of adjusting to Milo’s Sanctuary. “He is very shy and gets easily startled, so we are moving very slow with his socialization and letting him set the pace for what he’s comfortable with doing,” explains Michele. “He navigates his surroundings very well and has started to interact with us and the other cats.”
This type of transition would be difficult for the average cat, but it’s likely Benny’s blindness makes it even harder for him to immediately feel at ease in unfamiliar places. Benny was born with two congenital conditions, micropthalmia, which is characterized by abnormally small and malformed eyes, and entropion, which causes his eyelids to turn inward, allowing his eyelashes to rub against his eyes. “We believe he sees shadows and he will be going to the eye specialist very soon,” says Michele.
In the meantime, the volunteers and staff at Milo’s Sanctuary are doing everything they can to help this adorable blind kitten feel right at home, and Benny — who was most likely homeless for much of his life — is making a lot of progress, slowly but surely. “He didn’t have toys before he came to us, so he’s learning what it is to play!” says Michele. “His favorite toy is his yellow catnip banana!”
When Benny isn’t playing, he enjoys sleeping and eating, proving this cute tabby and white kitten really isn’t that different from the average feline. “Special needs cats — in some cases — require extra care but are so worth the effort,” says Michele. “They can teach so much about forgiveness and going beyond your limitations to conquer the world.”
Michele, who has spent many years caring for cats with special needs, is confident blind kitties like Benny can make wonderful pets. “As long as they are indoor only — which all cats should be, especially blind ones — and you don’t move the furniture around once they get the lay of the land, they can run up and down stairs and up and down cat trees,” says Michele.
With the help of Michele and everyone else at Milo’s Sanctuary, it won’t be long before Benny is racing around his new home, exploring the fully enclosed cattery and climbing into cupboards. While it was an ordeal for Benny to finally make it to Milo’s Sanctuary, everyone at this California organization is delighted to have this handsome tabby and white boy as a member of their family, especially Michele.
“Benny has been through so much and we went through so much to find him after he got lost — we are very protective over him,” says Michele. “His gentle nature and shyness makes him even more special and he shows us every day that love and patience can conquer just about any obstacle!”
If you would like to sponsor Benny, please visit the website for Milo’s Sanctuary.
To learn more about this adorable kitten, you can follow Benny on Instagram.