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  • Lian Blaisdell

Mainstay Strays

Updated: Jan 6

When the Clayton Valley campus is quiet, the critters come out; for years, a band of stray cats has called the school grounds their home.

The definite first appearance and exact number of the cats is unknown. Kelley King, an office secretary, took some to be spayed and neutered at the Martinez Animal Shelter for a time to limit population growth. The shelter has ended this service, however, and strays as well as cats from nearby homes converge on the big CV campus night after night.

"Generations of cats have come and gone throughout the years," King estimates.

School counselor Ashley Bonnett and school psychologist Dr. Katie Brown have become parents to some of the kittens born at the school over the past few years.

Bonnett recalls that her kitten was found alone on the football field by a student. "And so he brought the kitten to the office and someone was like, ‘There's a kitten in the office,’ and at the time, there was a nurse who knew that I wanted a kitten. And so she grabbed the kitten from the front office and was like, ‘Ashley, I found a kitten.’”

Bonnett named the kitten Puff Daddy and began raising him at roughly three to four weeks of age. Bonnet notes that he doesn't meow and posits that he retains a mild feral nature.

Brown, on the other hand, was gifted a CVCHS stray during the pandemic. "I let the CVCHS school staff know that I wanted a kitten, and of my coworkers trapped a black kitten as a Christmas present . We think she is the sister of Ms. Bonnet's kitten."

Brown named her Eloise-in-Paris and describes her as "the sweetest and most affectionate cat." Eloise-in-Paris "was wild and fierce" initially, suffering from an eye infection, but within a few days she grew accustomed to Brown.

"She slept in a little cat bed on my desk at work," Brown remembers. "I bought a dog play pen with a zippered cover and carried that to work every day for the first week, so I didn't have to leave her alone at home."

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