Six years ago when I joined Gaia, one of the gardeners, Cederick, was raising the sweetest grey and white kitten. Every morning he would walk past the kindergarten with this tiny kitten perched on his shoulder. He clearly adored her and in time we found out that her name was “Blondie”! It was love at first sight for me and I recall going home with the idea of adopting this little kitten, but this was not to be.
As Blondie grew, I noticed that her owner took less and less interest in her and that she became a garden cat, living in the vicinity of the kindergarten. It was then that I started to feed her and it wasn’t long before Mira and Nokuthula’s mother became the regular supplier of kitten food and her other needs too. During this time I changed the kitten’s name to Bonnie Bella as her original name did not fit.
For six years, with the help of a few parents, Masuka the baker, Emily and the Millstone staff and occasionally the security, we have all collectively cared for Bonnie Bella. She, in turn was a wonderful presence in the kindergarten and many children have had the opportunity over the years to love and cuddle our school cat. The children have learnt how to care for, feed and treat an animal kindly. Some children have even overcome their extreme fear of animals through Bonnie Bella’s serene presence.
Bella was part and parcel of our kindergarten day. She found butter irresistible and her preference was to drink water from a gently running tap. Her favourite sleeping spot was the basket filled with outside cloths and during winter storms she would curl up and ignore the noise and activity in the class. At the end of last year she received a gift from Oliver and Kathy, a hand-made velted mouse filled with catnip. Bonnie Bella had a good life at school although on a few occasions, she watched me drive away from school with a questioning look: ‘Why are you leaving me here?’ She met me almost every morning and was a faithful companion at school.
We will never know what caused her sudden passing on Friday 12/02. She seemed fine the day before and even had her mid-morning nap on the deck with the children stepping over her and occasionally giving her a stroke. Bonnie Bella was a gift to the kindergarten and her presence will be missed.