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Splash’s celebration of life

By Staff | Jul 17, 2019

Splash, the cat who lived at Bonita Bill's for 19 years. PHOTO PROVIDED

Splash the cat was a staple at Bonita Bill’s Waterfront Restaurant for 19 years. She had fans from all over the country and lived a cat’s dream life. She was often given peel-and-eat shrimp by the patrons and had a small container of creamer every morning.

After a long and happy life, Splash died and “crossed the rainbow bridge” on June 10. Her celebration of life was held on June 13 at Bonita Bills. It was an old-fashioned potluck, complete with Kahlua creamer shooters in Splash’s honor. Approximately 200 people attended the memorial.

Splash came to Bonita Bill’s as a kitten – when someone threw her over the bridge right in front of the restaurant 19 years ago. Barb Whatley, who was the manager at the time, heard a huge splash while standing at the fishing pier. She then saw a kitten frantically swimming toward the restaurant. Whatley said that she alerted some anglers and they brought the cat over to Bonita Bill’s.

“The cat bolted after we dried it off,” said Whatley. “The next day, it showed up at the bar. I opened up a big ole’ can of tuna and the cat never left. So, I named it Splash because it was gold and white, like splash marks, and of course, the initial splash.”

“The cat was taken care of and fed here but didn’t really start being affectionate until about six years,” said Whatley. “After six years, everyone fell in love with the cat.”

Splash and Jeff Warne, who flew all the way from Wisconsin to come to Splash's Celebration of Life. PHOTO PROVIDED

“She was very loved, she was an institution here at Bonita Bill’s,” Said Carlene Brennen, Bill Semmer’s sister (a.k.a. Bonita Bill).

Jeff Warne and his wife flew out all the way from Wisconsin just to come to Splash’s Celebration of Life. They spend their winters in Florida.

“I would always get peel-and-eat shrimp just because the cat loved it,” said Warne. “I heard the story of how the cat was thrown off the bridge and immediately became very attached to the cat. I went and bought a brush and would groom the cat and she loved it. I found myself down here almost every day brushing and feeding Splash those peel-and-eat shrimp.”

“Splash has been a big part of my life for the past 19 years,” added Warne, with tears in his eyes.

Splash’s ashes were scattered at the end of the fishing pier, where she became a member of the Bonita Bill’s family 19 years ago.