Miss Benny, feline celebrity, finds permanent home
January 17, 2012
By Tom Corrigan
No one seems to fully know how the large-sized feline that spent almost two years at the Issaquah Petco ended up with the name “Miss Benny.”
Still, if her origins are a bit obscure, the 8-year-old cat’s celebrity isn’t.
A volunteer for the Purrfect Pals shelter inside Petco on Northwest Gilman Boulevard, Claire Wilkinson said the large cat arrived at the shelter with the name “Benny.”
“The ‘Miss’ part was demanded by the cat herself,” said Wilkinson, who more than once referred to the feline as a bit of a diva.
“She was our queen bee,” Wilkinson added. “From day one, she made it clear that she did not like other animals and that she needed to be the center of your universe.”
Miss Benny apparently was not very happy with the Purrfect Pals shelter when she first arrived. The shelter space was near the store’s dog grooming area, which Miss Benny did not appreciate.
“She would just swat and hiss,” Wilkinson said. “She also made it clear there were certain times you could pet and hold her and other times you couldn’t.”
Eventually, apparently not long after Miss Benny’s arrival, the local Petco rearranged its store, moving the Purrfect Pals area to a quieter part of the store and allowing the organization to expand its operation.
Founded in Brier in 1988, Purrfect Pals is a cat adoption agency with numerous adoption centers, such as the Issaquah Petco. The group’s new space inside Petco formerly housed large birds, but Purrfect Pals volunteers cleaned it and even repurposed old birdcages as cat cubbies. Miss Benny was allowed to be a “free-range kitty” in the shelter area.
According to Wilkinson, the change of scenery did wonders for Miss Benny’s disposition. Still crabby at times, she nevertheless began to attract a fan club consisting of shelter volunteers, store employees and regular visitors.
Wilkinson said Benny’s availability for adoption was advertised on social media and in the store. But she still got overlooked by those looking for a younger, possibly more friendly, cat.
“People want kittens,” Wilkinson explained, adding that with the treats Miss Benny received from her many admirers, she had grown to eight pounds.
All in all, Wilkinson said Miss Benny spent one year, nine months and four days at the shelter. As you have probably guessed, the story has a happy ending.
Right around the recent Christmas holiday, Lana Reynoldson came to Petco looking for what she described to Wilkinson as a “big, fat cat.” Obviously, Miss Benny fit the bill.
“It was definitely a bittersweet moment for us,“ Wilkinson said. “Benny was such a fixture of our adoption room here and we all just love her. But it was a moment we’ve all been waiting for, too. As a no-kill shelter, Purrfect Pals believes that every cat matters and Benny is a great example of that. She was with us for almost two years, but now she has her very own home.”
Reynoldson wasn’t aware at first that she was adopting a minor celebrity.
“I’m just stunned by all the attention she gets,” Reynoldson said.
Wilkinson talked about fans of Miss Benny sending emails asking for updates on the cat’s progress in her new home.
“We’re getting along just fine,” said Reynoldson, who makes her home in Spanaway. She works in Bellevue and made the extra drive into Issaquah in hopes of finding a new friend.
Reynoldson said Miss Benny still is very specific about how and when she wants to be held, but she is also beginning to let her new owner hold and touch her more. Miss Benny also was a very finicky eater at first, but has learned if she finishes one bowl of food, she probably will get another.
Why did Reynoldson want a fat cat in the first place?
“I don’t know,” she said. “They’re just cute.”