On a Sunday morning in Southern California, Dominic Bonavitacola hopped in his car to run an errand. Little did he know, he’d end up stumbling upon a tiny kitten desperately in need of some tender love and care.
Fighting his way through LA traffic, Bonavitacola changed lanes and was about to turn onto a new street when something caught his eye from a side street a few blocks up.
“A rusty old truck pulled out in front of me and at first I thought nothing of it,” he says. “A moment later, something came flying out of the driver side window.”
At first, the object resembled a napkin or a piece of trash, but when it hit the ground, it starting running.
“I realized it was a tiny kitten. She darted for the closest sidewalk, nearly running right under the back left wheel of the truck in the process,” he says.
Bonavitacola immediately hopped out of his car and chased the tiny kitten down the sidewalk. She ran into some nearby bushes to take cover.
“I didn’t know if she was feral or not but I decided to reach my hand in and take my chances,” he says. “When I took hold of her, she went limp in my hand and I pulled her out and took her with me.”
What happened next, he jokes, was a very “quick courtship.” It had been two years since Bonavitacola had lost his 6-year-old rescue cat and he wasn’t quite sure that he was ready for another pet, but life had another plan for him that fateful morning.
Bonavitacola brought the kitten to a local vet who told him that, aside from a bout of fleas, the tiny kitten was in perfect health. She appeared to be about 4 weeks old, however, and would require some extra attention. Bonavitacola took the kitten home and came up with the perfect name for his new companion.
“I decided to name her Belle after the Disney princess. She’s the beauty, and I’m, of course, the beast,” he says with a laugh.
Bonavitacola’s previous cat was 6 months old when he came into Bonavitacola’s life, so having such a young kitten was a new experience for him.
“I fed her about four times a day because she was so young and growing, but the same basic rules still applied: cat food, water, litter and lots of playtime,” he says.
Bonavitacola’s previous cat was a stray that had been diagnosed with feline leukemia and desperately needed a new home, but wasn’t until he witnessed Belle being tossed out of that truck’s window that Bonavitacola really became an advocate for stray and unwanted cats.
“[The experience] absolutely opened my eyes to the plight of rescue animals,” he says. “A lot of the breeding we see today comes from people who have these moms in tiny cages and constantly pregnant, spitting out litter after litter so they can maximize their own profits. That’s a horrendous quality of life and it’s the public’s duty to reject the purchasing practices that lead to such abuse.”
Today, Belle is a healthy, 4-year-old cat and has become an essential part of Bonviacola’s life.
“I really couldn’t imagine not having her at this point,” he says. “I’ve never been away from her for more than a few days at a time. She doesn’t like to be in a different room than me and she’s always nearby when I’m home. And she loves, loves, loves to play… I’m still waiting for her to calm down,” he adds jokingly.
Bonviacola describes his feline companion as the life of the party.
“When we have get togethers, you can always find her nearby, and she often steals the chairs of people getting up at the table,” he says. “If we have a full house, you have to kick her off the kitchen chair just to get a spot to eat!”
It seems as if this Belle has gotten her happily-ever-after ending, indeed.
Images via: Dominic Bonavitacola
Nicole Pajer is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, energetic Doberman, and rat terrier.