Miss Isabella “Bella” Francisca Veramendi de Valero arrived at the Alamo on March 6, 2015, 179 years to the day after the Battle of the Alamo.

The furry calico kitten had wandered onto the grounds of the Presidio de la Bahía in Goliad, about 90 miles southeast of the Alamo. The Bahía, as it’s known, is a fort built by Spaniards in 1749.

Ernesto Rodriguez, the senior curator and historian of the Alamo grounds, notes that during the siege of the Alamo, William B. Travis asked the Bahía to provide reinforcements, help that never came.

“But they made up for it by giving us Bella,” Rodriguez said.

Bahía Director Scott McMahon’s 4-year-old daughter Josephine had rescued the kitten on the fort’s grounds, but his family was unable to keep it. The cat was in good shape, a fluffy kitten wearing a coat of many colors, about 6 months old, McMahon recalled. He had learned of the recent passing of C.C., the official Alamo cat from 1996 to 2014, so he called colleagues at the Alamo to see if they might like to adopt Bella.

Bella has served as a mascot of the Alamo ever since. She lives with Rodriguez, her main caretaker, and other staff in the Alamo collections department and until recently had the run of the Alamo grounds.

That changed last year summer when Bella fell into a construction dumpster on a hot day. With temperatures in the 90s, she overheated, couldn’t escape for several hours, and was meowing loudly.

An Alamo staffer heard her cries and retrieved her from the dumpster. A visit to the vet ensued, followed by medications twice a day. Now Bella is back on her feet, but given the continuing construction of the new Alamo Exhibition Hall and Collections Building on the grounds, she no longer has the run of the place. She’s confined indoors in the current collections building, where Rodriguez offices, until construction ceases later this year. She does get regular walks on a leash, however.

She’s one of the guardians of the Alamo,” said Rodriguez. “She’s a really good spokes-cat, loves being around people, and represents the Alamo well.”

Rodriguez said Bella can be a diva, but she earns her keep by engaging people in a friendly way. She has a dedicated page on the Alamo website and posts regularly on her Twitter account. She keeps her “furrrriends” apprised of any “exciting mews” — such as her Fiesta medal.

When she’s not tackling social media duties or under house arrest, Bella likes to wander through the Alamo gift shop and greet guests, wrestle with coonskin caps and patrol the church. She chows down on filet mignon-flavored cat food.

Before the dumpster incident, she would sometimes take a break from the crowds and mosey over to the Menger or Emily Morgan hotels. Hotel staffers would call Rodriguez and let him know that “Bella is here, and she’s OK,” said Rodriguez.

Now at the age of 7 — midlife for a cat — Bella has her own Fiesta medal.

On Jan. 10, the Alamo announced the official Bella the Alamo Cat fiesta medal. Bella had a medal last year, too, but in limited production as an experiment, said Sheila Mayfield, senior director of marketing and communications for the Alamo.

“We had floated the idea around for years, and Bella has a following, so we thought we’d give it a try,” said Mayfield. All 150 Bella Fiesta 2021 medals, priced at $15 each, sold out in two weeks.

The Bella Fiesta 2022 medal, shaped like the Alamo and adorned with a gold ribbon, depicts Bella front and center, with a Texas flag as a backdrop and the Alamo cannon at her side. Proceeds from sales of the medal benefit the Alamo Trust, the nonprofit operator of the Alamo, and are earmarked for Bella’s care — food, veterinary costs and catastrophic incidents like falling into dumpsters.

Rodriguez anticipates that Bella will be roaming the Alamo grounds again soon. Meanwhile, he and other Alamo staffers welcome Bella in the office, and take turns cleaning her litter box.

Disclosure: Monika Maeckle’s son is the Alamo’s director of curriculum and instruction.

Monika Maeckle

San Antonio Report co-founder Monika Maeckle writes about pollinators, native plants, and the ecosystems that sustain them at the Texas Butterfly Ranch website. She is also the founder and director of...