From Abandoned to Adored: Bonney’s Story

May 8, 2019


It was a hot summer day in late August 2018 when Jessica J. exited a Manhattan subway station. Suddenly, she heard a faint cry.

“It sounded like it was coming from a nearby garbage can,” recalls Jessica. “Then my eye caught a plastic bag rolling around on the street.” 

She lifted the bag and peeked inside. A newborn orange and white kitten, with his eyes still closed and umbilical cord still attached, continued to mew in the bag. 

“He couldn’t separate himself from the bag and was so small,” says Jessica. “It makes me so sad to think someone threw him out.”

Jessica, a graduate student working on a dual Master’s degree in social work and public health at Columbia University, postponed her orientation that day and instead walked the tiny kitten to a nearby veterinary clinic. The clinic turned them away, so Jessica hailed a cab and headed to the ASPCA, holding the kitten in a box.

Bonny as a newborn kitten

Bonney the day Jessica J. found him

“He kept climbing out and tried to nurse on my hand,” she says. 

At the ASPCA Adoption Center, Jessica relinquished her tiny charge to Stephen Cameron, Coordinator of Admission and Foster Programs, and said she’d be willing to adopt the kitten once he was healthy and ready.

Growing and Learning

Bonny as a kitten

Bonney at the ASPCA Kitten Nursery

The day-old kitten was then named Ultimo and placed in the ASPCA Kitten Nursery. Ultimo was one of nearly 1,700 kittens who entered the Nursery in 2018 alone. 

Jessica phoned nursery staff every few weeks to check on Ultimo. By early October, after he started eating solid food, Ultimo went to a temporary home with David S., an ASPCA foster caregiver who has worked in the Nursery for three years and has fostered eight kittens over the past two seasons.

David kept Ultimo in his bedroom and slept on his couch for a week until his other cats got used to the young cat’s presence. “I didn’t want them to be jealous of Ultimo,” explains David, who has three adult male cats.

Bonny eating wetfood with another cat

Bonny being sniffed by an older cat

Bonney socializing with other cats while in foster care

Over the next six weeks, Ultimo was socialized and developed exceptional climbing and running skills.

“He was very affectionate and jumped on my bed every morning to head-butt my chin,” David says. “He’s very playful.”

David admits it’s sometimes hard to return one’s foster charges, but the benefits outweigh the losses.

Bonny sleeping under a beard

Bonney snuggling with foster caregiver, David S.

“It’s a great experience—you’re temporarily letting these little guys into your life,” he says. “They’re learning from you while you’re learning from them. I really like fostering and encourage others to try it.”  

He cites his supportive coach, Carolyn Campbell, a long-time lead nursery caregiver at the Kitten Nursery, for teaching him about feline development and behavior.

A New Life

On November 12, after David returned Ultimo to the nursery, Jessica and her husband David officially adopted him. They were still mourning the passing of Jessica’s previous cat, Apollo, but it was the perfect time to welcome Ultimo—whom they renamed Scotch Bonnet, or Bonney for short—into their home.

Bonny and Jessica

Bonney with adopter, Jessica J.

For now, Bonney is the couple’s only pet, though they’re considering adding to their feline family in the future.

“He’s super sweet and loves to cuddle,” says Jessica. “And he always greets us at the door.”

Jessica adds that Bonney’s favorite toy is one that she herself couldn’t part with—an orange knitted goldfish that belonged to Apollo. To appease the ever-climbing Bonney, the couple plans to purchase a cat tree. In the meantime, Bonney’s typical perch on their fifth-floor windowsill allows him to safely observe a courtyard filled with birds.

Though Bonney’s initial introduction to the world was cruel and callous, his life today is filled with caring and compassion.  

“My hope is that none of that early trauma sunk in,” says Jessica. “I want our little Bonney to live a long and happy, healthy life.”


Through the summer months, rescues and shelters nationwide will see an influx of kittens in need. This time, known as Kitten Season, can be busy and difficult for shelters where space may be limited. That’s why foster caregivers like David S. are so important. When foster caregivers open their hearts and homes to take in kittens for a short time, they are helping to provide a better future for an animal in need and also helping their local rescue or shelter. No matter where you live, you can make a big difference for more kittens like Bonney by becoming a foster caregiver through our Meow for Now campaign today

Originally published on KittenToob.