Cats in My Neighborhood

black cat sleeping on porch

320 Cat

I walked to and from my shop in Carnegie Antiques today, something I don’t often do since I’m usually carrying too much to walk with it. I also get into trouble with my camera, and simple errands that should take 15 minutes take two hours, and sometimes—though not today—I come home with an extra kitty. Today I just came home with photos of kitties. But a cold front came through today while I was at the shop, with heavy rains and wind, and all these kitties were outside, presumably while neighbors were at work. I could at least say “hello” and take their photo. The black kitty above is actually the last one I saw, but it’s my favorite photo of the bunch.

Tuxedo Kitty

Here is the tuxedo kitty I often see at the top of my hill—I nearly ran him over one night as he chased a mouse down the middle of the street, totally unafraid of my car. I believe he lives under a porch, not sure if he’s a stray or feral someone is caring for. I saw him ease on across a street and looked into the yard where he’d headed to see that he had caught some small creature, though I never saw what it was. He is wary enough that he stopped what he was doing to keep an eye on me, annoying human that I was.

tuxedo cat in grass

Tuxedo cat.

Boys on the Porch

I’ve seen these two frequently when I go to the top of the hill above my house to photograph the sunrise, the moon or other celestial events. The orange boy rolls around in the middle of the street as I set up my tripod, and the tabby runs over, rubs on my leg, and runs back to his porch. It seems to me they’d like their privacy back once I’m done with my foolishness.

two cats on porch

Tabby and Orange Boy

As I came farther down the sidewalk, I saw there were two dark tabbies. “This is our porch,” they say, yet give me blinky looks. This third kitty, on the left, must be new; I’ve never seen him on my walks and my house is only about five houses away on the opposite side. It’s interesting how outdoor cats seem to have their territories marked out and never leave their little space, though some cats range all over the place, even spayed females, adventurous, I guess, though they worry me.

two tabby cats

Two Tabbies

320 Cat

Then there’s 320 Cat, who I’ve never seen, and I honestly wonder if he belongs here. The porch is actually several sets of steps above the sidewalk, but I could see just the tips of his fur and knew a kitty was sleeping there, and no one appeared to be home.

black cat sleeping on porch

320 Cat

He awoke when he saw me and seemed startled and I thought he’d run, but instead he stretched and came straight toward me, talking. Then I could see his tail was missing most of its fur, he had patches missing here and there and when I petted him he felt scabby, likely a flea bit dermatitis, poor guy. His face and demeanor reminded me of Mr. Sunshine though his eyes were a lovely dark green. I petted him and we talked for a while.

scruffy black cat

Kind of scruffy.

I was just a few houses from home, but on the opposite side of the street, and I told him I needed to leave but he dutifully followed me and this is always the hard part. I can’t take him home, though I’ll keep an eye out for him in case he really is a stray who just adopted that house. I really don’t want him to follow me because I don’t want him to cross the street. I turned and told him, “No! Go back to your porch,” then turned my back on him and did my best not to look back, trying to sense where he was. At two houses away, just before I crossed the street, I turned to see him walking back up the steps to the porch at 320. I’m not convinced he belongs there or anywhere. At the rate rentals turn over in my neighborhood, I often see those left behind and often take them in and find new homes.

I’ll talk to the kids tomorrow, they know everybody’s pets. At least I know the others are cared for.


All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.

Update on Georgie’s Portrait

detail of portrait

Detail of "Georgie"

detail of portrait

Portrait of Georgie, detail of her face.

I’ve been working on tightening up the details in Georgie’s portrait, especially around her face, which will be the most detailed area of the finished portrait. I’ve included the first update at right for reference for where I left off the last time.

We’re planning this portrait to focus on her face and then the rest of her, but for the toys and the background not to be as detailed as her. I will continue to work her face in greater detail, even from this point.

Several things were obvious the last time, most notably her eye color. I like to underlay areas of portraits with either complimentary colors or more vivid shades of the native color to give more depth and dimension to a portrait. However, I’m not accustomed to the intensity of these new pastels and while I loved the color I had layered too much in place and had a dickens of a time using it as an underlay. Each time I added the cooler softer greens to her eyes I’d be pleased with what I saw, walk away to refresh my perceptions, come back and find they were still too bright! It just took a little longer to get them to resemble Georgie’s soft sea-green color, though, and the little bits of actual Nile green you can see add to the dimensional quality of her eyes while what’s under the top layer of color helps to brighten it.

I also tightened up the details of her ears to finalize the shape and larger areas of color and shadow, though much of the ear detail with come at the end because she has such deluxe ear hair.

I’m building the fur on her face, the short fur around the eyes and nose with no underfur where the agouti is most apparent in layers of color areas, then working in the details of individual areas. She has a very distinctive “M” on her forehead which needed to be made more clear. From there it’s working in the transition between the short fur on her face and the areas where it begins to grow longer but still doesn’t have too much of an undercoat as there is on her torso, around her muzzle and chin, the sides of her face below her ears, and the top of her head. I picture running my fingers through that fur, remembering what it feels like, and it helps me to work the texture correctly.

update on portrait

The full portrait.

I’ve also worked in the rest of her torso, adding the stripes in her side and on her tail that are mixed in with her long fur. I plumed out her tail a little more, though I still don’t think it’s quite long enough. Seeing her in person it looks a little shorter, but that’s only because it’s a little thinner with her age. I have photos from younger years for the full effect of her big tail.

Her big ruff is still a little too colorful, but I want to work the rest of her torso before I finalize the color and mix of highlight and shadow in that area.

Those pink and red toys are working in okay and look balanced now that the rest of her is more detailed. Sometimes it just works out that way.

But in the process of all this I undid her paws—well, that’s for the next round.

See the first draft of the portrait and read about Georgie.

Meet Georgie


All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


September 28 is World Rabies Day

It’s not so long ago that rabid animals, especially roaming dogs because they were also pets and were part of everyday life with humans, presented a great health peril in this country from infection with rabies. Many people died from the disease before treatment was available—a bite would transmit the disease to another animal or human, and without treatment both would die from the effects of the disease in very short order.

But today in the United States we are fairly safe from this disease that is 100% preventable with a vaccine given to our pets, livestock, and even wild animals. In fact, in many states the rabies vaccine for your pet is the law. Because the rabies vaccine is so commonly given to our pets we may take for granted that rabies is hardly a threat except for the occasional bat or raccoon or unfortunate stray cat.

We still need to be aware and be cautious. My home state of Pennsylvania in 2010 had the distinction of having the most cases of domestic rabies of all 50 states, and between January 1 and May 30 of 2011, 114 raccoons, 18 skunks, 15 foxes and 12 cats tested positive for rabies in the state, according to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In June, A dog tangled with a rabid raccoon on the trail where I regularly ride my bike, walk, photograph and paint.

A current rabies vaccine for pets is the law in Pennsylvania, and in Allegheny County where I live, the Health Department sets out baited food with the rabies vaccine for raccoons in areas they are known to travel, or those numbers might be even higher.

Other countries around the world are not so lucky as we are. More than 55,000 people still die every day from infection with rabies because the vaccine isn’t available or isn’t widely used.

World Rabies Day since 2007 has worked all over the globe to both raise awareness of the dangers and prevention of rabies and helped to make the vaccine available for animals and treatment for infected humans, with the ultimate goal of controlling rabies in animals to prevent it in humans. Since they began inviting agencies to participate in the effort, “every major human and animal health partner at the international, national, state/provincial, and local levels as well as veterinary, medical and other specialized professional and student organizations, corporate and non-profit partners”.

Check your pets’ records and make sure their rabies shots are up to date, and if not, make an appointment. Visit the website for World Rabies Day to read more about what’s happening around the world today.