Bonita the cat

I don’t think Dad ever met a cat he liked until he fell in love with Bonita.

To be fair, until that point, the only cats that our family had any contact with were the strays that would drape themselves across our fence and yowl at the top of their lungs in the middle of the night. My dad wrote a famous (in our family) letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times about the stray cat scourge in our neighborhood, creating a firestorm of controversy and making my dad Public Enemy #1 in the eyes of local crazy cat ladies. (And I use that term in a most loving way, as I’m now one of their most fervent members.)

Bonita the cat with one of her kittens.

When my dad became a security guard, there were lots of lonely nights patrolling the trucking company he worked at. One of his fellow co-workers introduced him to Bonita. She was a scruffy, suspicious feline, a street-smart cat that was weary of the streets. She may also have been weary because she was pregnant.

Dad fell for Bonita pretty hard. He started bringing her cans of food nightly. He would provide us with regular updates. He would mimic how he called her name and how she would come running up to him. (I’m guessing the sound of the can opening was the real reason, but if Dad thought he was the reason, so be it.) Bonita had her kittens and then there was a family of felines to feed. Perhaps some of the kittens were trapped and adopted, I’m not sure. But Bonita remained. She had probably never known the inside of a loving home and probably never did in her entire life.

But there was Dad and the other workers, who at least provided her with the basic necessities. Months after my dad stopped working there he would return, to feed a stray cat named Bonita that was anything but pretty but to my dad, was a friend in need.

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