Happy New Year with Sparklies

black cat with fuzzy crocheted collar

A sparkly new year's wish for everyone!

On behalf of my household of kitties, Mewsette wishes you and yours a happy new year!

black cat with crocheted collar

Faraway Expression (I'd rather be birdwatching than wearing this thing around my neck).

She’s modeling my latest crochet scarf with vintage pin, and the little sparks of color and the shape of the pin brought to mind fireworks. She has the greenest eyes of the group, too, and I wanted to highlight that with the background.

black cat with crocheted collar and vintage pin

Mewsette Coquette (are you actually going to give me that treat or just wave it so I'll look at it?)

I’ve never been one to dress up my cats, but I’ve been handling Mewsette and her brothers since they were three days old and somehow decorating this family of nearly solid black cats seems like the natural thing to do.

This extemporaneous photo shoot developed after I tried to photograph the scarf but certain kitties decided it was meant to be a toy—I have to admit they have a few toys that resemble this—and in the ensuing activity someone ended up wearing it.

And they tolerate it, in part because they inherited their mom’s sweet personality and are the nicest family of kitties I’ve ever known (in a lifetime of kitties), and perhaps also because I’ve been handling them all their lives. They put up with a lot of stuff from me, but of course, the benefits are many.

black cat with crocheted collar and vintage pin

Dignified (I'm just letting you know that I'm done with this thing around my neck now).

They are now three years old, so it’s time to put them to work!

I think Mewsette has a true career as a model—I’ve included a few more shots from this session along with Mewsette’s comments.

Her brothers were spared the indignity of having to wear this thing, but their day will come.

It’s a little difficult to tell, but I’ve included the extra space on the right of this last photo so you might see how l-o-o-n-n-g Mewsette’s whiskers are.

I hope your 2011 begins on a bright note with colors, smiles, purrs and happiness, and continues to become more beautiful every day!

The Perfect Curve

cat on windowsill

Kelly Curved

Kelly enjoys a sunbath on an upstairs windowsill, watching the birds, her tail curled in quiet bliss shaping her into a lovely, graceful curve. Too bad you can’t hear her purring.

Cookie’s Biggest Fan

tortoiseshell and black cat

Mewsette Guards Cookie

Has Mewsette adopted Cookie?

I’ve often noticed Mewsette being near Cookie, sitting, sleeping, bathing, sometimes trying to do a gentle nuzzle or head-butt which is summarily rebuffed by Cookie. However, I’ve lately seen Mousse cuddling with or near Cookie—after she’s fallen asleep, of course!

Perhaps like Giuseppe in the way he adopted Peaches years ago, cuddling, keeping her warm, giving her his youthful energy, Mewsette will finally have her way with Cookie. Cookie couldn’t ask for a nicer understudy in Mewsette, big, strong, quiet and sweet.

Can’t You Fix This?

cat in snow on deck

Can't You Fix This?

Cookie is losing her patience with this winter thing. It used to be okay, she used to enjoy plowing through snow and getting it all over her fur, but her 18-year-old paws are in no mood for ice and snow this year. She is disappointed daily by finding that the cold temperatures and snow remain, not only on the deck and in the back yard, but on the front porch and front yard as well. Can’t this useless human just make one of them a little warmer?

My Kitchen Assistant

black cat in the kitchen

Mr. Sunshine wears his efforts proudly.

I don’t know where he got the crumbs on his head, but Mr. Sunshine wore them proudly all afternoon.

“I helped mom. You didn’t.” Everyone ignored him.

I keep a sturdy stool next to the sink where I work so that curious kitties can watch the process without, theoretically, jumping up on the counter and into the big bowl of stuffing. Mr. Sunshine, known for his adventures, managed to stay out of trouble on Christmas Day.

But at the last minute he decided to make a face at me. I expected to see him stick out his tongue

black cat with head tilted

"How's this mom?"

The Unintended Gift: My first cat, and how cats became my muse

a photo of Bootsie, the gray and white cat I had growing up

My first cat, Bootsie

Yes, I really did get a kitten in a box under the Christmas tree when I was a child. The story is not glowingly happy and, in fact, includes a few losses, but led me to the cat who eventually became my “first” kitty, and the rest is history. I first ran this story in December 2009, and I’m reposting for new readers.

When I was nine years old, I remember telling my parents and my older sister what kind of animals I liked. I don’t know if this was in response to a question, but I know I explained completely and with enthusiasm, telling every last detail of what I liked about birds and squirrels and cats and dogs and horses and rabbits, all the animals I had encountered in my early 1960s suburban development childhood.

I remember telling my sister that I liked cats best because they were easier to take care of than dogs, and if I had to choose I’d choose a cat. I don’t know how I knew this except that in those days people didn’t get their animals neutered and, except for hunting dogs in their cages, all animals were allowed to roam. Dogs were loud and seemed to get into more trouble with fights and biting people as some roaming dogs will do, and I had my share of small bites from trying to pet dogs who weren’t interested. And then there was the clean-up issue in everyone’s yards, even yards of people who didn’t have a dog.

Cats, on the other hand, were uniformly small and seemed to be very quiet and gentle and neat, and this appealed to me. I was shy, I was dreamy, I didn’t like loud noises, I was most comfortable in the company of animals, even wild animals, because they didn’t find me odd and weren’t bothered by my silences as humans were, and they didn’t mind when I stared at them without explanation; in fact, they encountered me in much the same way. I was outdoors quite a bit roaming the old pasture that was all that was left of the farm our houses had been built on and exploring the woods and waterways of every ravine and hillside, so a dog might have seemed a likely companion for me. But I pictured myself curling up with an animal to read, and that would be more likely one of the nice kitties I had met around the neighborhood.

Every time I learned there was a litter of kittens in the neighborhood, and there always seemed to be one or two litters, I was an annoyance to the owner wanting to see the kittens, and an annoyance to my family wanting to bring a kitten home. Once I helped a neighbor catch two small kittens that had been born and raised in their yard to a mother who had disappeared, and I took them home hoping to keep them, but they only stayed overnight and likely went to a shelter, though that might have been a foretelling of rescues to come.

So the dream came true that Christmas when I was nine and there was an orange kitten in a box under the tree, a tiny six-week-old fuzzball ready for play when let loose from the cardboard carrier. I know little Rusty got no respite from me crawling around on the floor after her, and I was thrilled when, exhausted with batting walnut shells and chasing ribbon, she curled up in my convenient lap, a warm, pliable, purring bundle.
Keep reading…

Kitties And Cream

two cats eating whipped cream

Kitties and Cream

The girls get their Christmas morning breakfast treat—a dollop of whipped cream on a fancy dish! A little bit can’t hurt, and Kelly asked so nicely I could hardly refuse. Besides, I had some in my coffee and it just wouldn’t be polite not to share.

Snuggled All Safe in Their Bed

four black cats on afghan

Snuggled All Safe in Their Bed

Merry Christmas from the Big Four lined up and snuggling on the wool afghan at the foot of the bed, dreaming of catnip toys and birdwatching and what to do with that big white raw thing in the refrigerator.

It’s Mr. Sunshine curled on the left, Jelly Bean and Mewsette curled together and Giuseppe curled on the right. Not only are they heart-warmingly adorable, they are showing their usual skills for composition, nearly symmetrical but not quite so, just perfect if you ask me.

Not even the best flash is any match for all that black fur and the mostly black afghan underneath, all in evening room light, but I hope the details are large enough to see.

We’re Glad Christmas is Here

three cats with craft items

I have worn them out.

But not for all the goodies we get—mom totally wore us out! Up all night at the computer, in the studio, making this, painting that, crocheting the other. We’re just exhausted.

So last night I actually decided to “start” on a few gifts…haven’t had a whole lot of time for that! I totally trashed my bed with trinkets and lost jewelry and yarn and whatnot. Mr. Sunshine, Cookie and Mimi tried to keep up with me, but gave up.

I don’t usually work on projects in my bedroom, but I’ve spent long nights in my other two work rooms and even in the kitchen, so I decided to take a break and get a new perspective. Since soft, cozy sleeping spots are less numerous in the other rooms, the household heartily accompanied me. By the time I was done I had all seven on the bed with me. No picture of that, though!

Stinkbugs for Fun and Exercise

cat chasing stinkbug


Stinkbugs exist to make sure kitties get some exercise in the winter.

While the snow falls outside and the days are short, other kitties might be napping in warm spots but Jelly Bean has found a marvelous toy. He’s gentle with his find—he wants it to last all day. As soon as the insect gets almost all the way up the pane, JB gently knocks it back down to the windowsill and the process begins all over again.