School cat leaves paw print on many hearts

Smokey the cat had a large following on his Smokeyschoolcat Instagram page.

Kirstenhof Primary School is in mourning after its celebrity cat, Smokey, died after being hit by a car.

Known as a champion eater, sleeper, mouse-catcher and teachers’ assistant, Smokey lived at the school for about 15 years and was part of every aspect of school life.

In a tribute on social media, the school says: “It is with sadness that the school said goodbye to their legendary school cat, Smokey, on Tuesday January 25. He was hit by a car early in the morning and left on the side of the road in Lente Street.”

Michelle du Toit, founder and director of non-profit company Barefoot Rescue in Tokai noticed Smokey at around 6.40am when she was dropping her son for tennis squad at school.

“He must have been knocked shortly before we found him as his condition deteriorated fast,” she said.

“We rushed him to Hillside Vet in Wynberg who arranged for a vet to see us before opening time.”

X-rays showed his pelvis had been shattered beyond what would have been an ethical repair for a cut of his advanced age, she said.

According to the school, Smokey made appearances at prize-givings, plays, sports events, exhibitions, concerts, fun runs and galas.

His favourite sleeping spots were in sunbeams in passages, on children’s bags, laps (whenever they were available), computer bags, art apron boxes, in certain teachers’ classrooms, under bushes and even close to the aircon in principal Stuart Payne’s office. He was also known for spraying the odd school bag.

Smokey’s appetite was always healthy and besides the prescription diet donated by a parent, he loved toasted chicken mayo, pies, Nik Naks, popcorn and pretty much anything that came in a lunch box.

Smokey saw many pupils and staff come and go over the years and he had a sizeable following on his Smokeyschoolcat Instagram page.

He was cared for by school staff Janet Blackshaw and Helen Donnelly and the vets at Ou Kaapse Vet. The schools’ security guards fed him and kept him company on weekends and during the holidays.

Ou Kaapse Vet posted a picture of Smokey and a tribute on their social media page. “Today we would like to pay tribute to a very special patient, Smokey the Kirstenhof Primary School cat who lost his life in a tragic accident.

“Smokey has been involved in the education of so many of the young members of our community over many years and was loved by all… He was a larger-than-life character who will be greatly missed by all. Rest in peace, dear Smokey, you have taken a piece of our hearts with you.”

The school and the vet are collecting cat food in Smokey’s honour. It can be dropped off at the front office or at the 15 Keyser River Drive.

Smokey lived at Kirstenhof Primary School for about 15 years was a part of every aspect of school life.