tortoiseshell cat in mixing bowl

Cookie just fits in the mixing bowl.

I’m glad I look before I add ingredients to the containers Cookie chooses to test for approval for use by kitchen cats.

In this case, a Cookie covered in dry cake mix would be a total change in plans for the evening and for the event for which I was to bake the cake.

Of course, the first part of Cookie’s process of testing and approving bowls, pots, pans and other containers used in the kitchen involves verifying that a complete bath can be taken in the container; in the background Kelly is having a drink of water.

photo of cat bathing in mixing bowl

The all-important bath test for kitchen containers.

And then that a comfortable position can be found with all, or nearly all, parts contained inside the container. Apparently, this bowl has met with Cookie’s approval.

cat in mixing bowl from above

View from above; I couldn't get the usual view from directly above this time.

I am glad I have a number of other mixing bowls and can move along with my cake.

Click here to pull together other posts featuring Cookie’s Kitchen Escapades or click on any of the links below to read individual posts:

My Inspirations
So Much for the Apple Crisp
And a Bag of Rotini for a Bed
Cookie Dough in the Salad Bowl
Sweet Dreams, and a…Tomato for Your Pillow
Cookie in the Pasta Bowl
A Cookie in Every Pot
Chocolate Chip Cookies


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.

I Am So Blessed

photo of cat pitcher

The gift.

I have been finishing up portraits at a pace faster than I’ve been able to write about them along with a good bit of regular holiday business. I’ll be catching up on writing about all of this next week and going forward, but for now I’d like to share a piece I wrote in 2005 after handing over a portrait to a very special couple.

Yesterday I handed over one of the last of my commissioned animal portraits for this holiday season. The couple who came to pick it up was dressed in Steelers sweatshirts and jeans, black leather jackets and a Santa hat, and smelled a little of beer and cigarettes, not the type many would imagine would want a portrait of their cat, but I knew better. This is their second portrait, the first being a gift from the woman to her husband of a portrait of his cat a few years ago; this second was a gift from him to her of her cat, who she had put to sleep earlier this year.

Read the rest of the story.


All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used 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.

Daily Sketch: Round Kitty

pencil sketch of round cat

Round Kitty, pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

Jelly Bean again today, and quite different from yesterday. I saw a stylized cat from old Oriental paintings in the way he was crouched on the stool in front of my easel, all his roundnesses exaggerated just a bit and reinforced by the round seat of the stool so I quickly sketched my idea before it faded. From this, I might develop a more finished stylized cat; he might be a neat outline, or a solid black or any solid color with white outlines as a block print or a screen print. I could see a rubber stamp, and a row of these round kitties across a purse or the hem of a skirt. We’ll have to see what 2012 brings.

I have photographed him here so many times; here he looks as if he is resting but he is actually waiting until I let my guard down and he can step onto my drafting table where I am working on a watercolor. This is a recipe for disaster as he would first walk through the large rectangular palette where all my little gobs of watercolor around the edges are wet for use and my special colors are mixed in the center area, past my jars of water to rinse my brushes and the jar holding the brushes, to my very painting on its back on the surface of the table, all of it angled at about 30 degrees.

No, no, no, just as in the kitchen, we have observation posts for kitties so that we don’t have any accidents. But still Bean waits quietly because I will become less and less vigilant over time and he will be able to purr and saunter across my painting.


Click here to see other daily sketches.

For a gallery of the ones available for sale, visit my Etsy shop in the “Daily Sketches” section.

Read about the reason for the daily sketches in The Artist’s Life: Daily Sketches.

And read about purchasing them and requesting them as a donation item for your shelter or rescue group in The Artist’s Life: Daily Sketches for Sale and Donation.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used 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.

Holiday Pet Safety

black cat with lights

Fromage says, "Lights? What lights? I don't know how they got that way."

by Karen  Sable, Guest Columnist

The holidays are a special time of the year, filled with friends and family, parties and food, presents and decorations. The holiday season is also, unfortunately, one of the busiest times for emergency veterinary hospitals, since all of the festivities expose our furry family members to a multitude of dangers that can result in illness and injury.

As a loving pet parent, we naturally want to share the joy of the holidays with our pets. I don’t mind admitting that each of my six cats has a stocking hanging above the fireplace, and I know that “Santa Claws” will be bringing them presents since they all have been very good this year. (With the possible exception of Tasha, who decided to squeeze into a small crawlspace between my basement and first floor, forcing me to miss an event I was to attend while I completely dismantled the drop ceiling to get to her.)

To make sure that the holidays are a happy time for you and your pet, not a time for a trip to the animal hospital, it’s important to be aware of the seasonal dangers, and to take precautions to avoid exposing your pet to these potential hazards:

two tortoiseshell cats eating cheesecake filling

Two Naughty Torties Eating Cheesecake Filling

Food Related Items

  • Many of the yummy foods we enjoy during the holidays can cause problems for our pets. Rich, fatty foods can cause upset stomachs and even lead to pancreatitisChocolate, coffee, and tea contain components called xanthines which can damage dogs’ and cats’ nervous system and urinary system, and also over-stimulate their heart muscle. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the worst, but to be safe, any chocolate, fudge, or other candy should be kept out of reach of your pet. Many people add raisins and nuts to their holiday cakes and cookies, but raisins and grapes can cause kidney damage, and Macadamia nuts can be toxic, affecting both the digestive and nervous systems. The artificial sweetener Xylitol, used in many “sugar free” baked goods, as well as in candy, gum, and even breath mints, can also be toxic. Uncooked meat, poultry, or fish can be a source of danger, as it may contain bacteria, such as E.coli, or even parasites. Even uncooked yeast dough, if eaten by a dog or cat, can cause serious problems. As it expands, it produces gas, which can not only cause considerable pain, but can even lead to a rupture of the stomach or intestines.
  • Don’t forget about bones from poultry, meat, or fish. Not only can they be a choking danger, but they can also splinter into jagged pieces and cause lacerations in the mouth, throat, and intestines. Dogs and cats have a great sense of smell, so even food/meat juices on aluminum foil or plastic wrap left on countertops can be very tempting, and can cause choking or an intestinal blockage.  The same goes for things like the strings used to wrap roasts.
  • Be sure not to leave food laying out where your pet can get to it, and make sure your garbage cans are also secure. “Dumpster diving” can be hazardous to your pet, as the garbage contains all kinds of hazards, from plastic wrap and bags, cooked and uncooked food trimmings, bones, 6-pack beverage holders, ribbons, tinsel, etc.
  • If you are serving any alcoholic beverages during the holidays, you also need to be careful to keep them away from your pet. Alcohol can cause serious intoxication, and can be fatal with just a small amount. Dogs and cats can be tempted by the sweet taste of drinks, such as eggnog, so make sure they are kept out of your pet’s reach, and that the glasses used for those drinks are not left laying around.
black cat with gift

Giuseppe investigates a gift.

Decorations and trees

  • Many of us fill our homes with beautiful decorations for the holidays, but these can be dangerous to our pets if some common sense precautions are not taken. If you are going to put up a Christmas tree, make sure it is in a stable stand, and secure it to a wall or window with twine or fishing line. I learned first hand a few years ago just how quickly one cat can topple a fully decorated tree I thought was secure in its stand, and I now tie my tree top to my drapery rod with fishing line.
  • Cats in particular are attracted to things like tinsel which, if  ingested, can cause blockages requiring surgery. If your tree is at all accessible to your pet, it would  probably be safest to avoid decorating it with tinsel or angel hair at all, and using a more pet friendly decoration. If you use any food items at all to decorate your tree, some caution is necessary.  Candy canes and gingerbread ornaments can be tempting. Likewise, garlands strung with popcorn or berries can pose choking hazards or cause obstructions if ingested.
  • Be careful with any ornaments you place on the tree. Glass ornaments can be knocked off and broken and cause cuts. Smaller ornaments can pose choking dangers. It’s better to place larger, non-breakable ornaments near the lower part of the tree where curious paws may reach. And, when hanging ornaments, be careful with the wire hooks. They can also be choking hazards, or can become imbedded in your pet’s mouth or esophagus.
  • Christmas tree needles can also pose a problem. Real tree needles are not only sharp, but can be toxic and cause mouth and stomach irritation, so make sure your pet does not chew on your tree branches, and promptly clean up needles as they fall. You also should be careful with any tree preservatives you may use. Many tree preservatives are sugar-based, so are tempting to pets. Not only can the chemicals in the tree preservative be toxic, but since the water remains in the stand for so long, it can harbor bacteria.  Some people simply drop a few aspirin in their tree water as a preservative, and we all know that aspirin can be toxic to pets.  The safest thing is to place some sort of covering over your tree stand to prevent your pet from being able to drink from it.
  • And don’t forget the electrical cords for the tree lights or other decorative lights around your home. Be sure to take precautions so that your pet doesn’t chew them. One suggestion is to spray the cords with a product like bitter apple to make them less attractive to curious pets.
  • You should also use some precautions with gift wrapping. Ribbon and yarn can be very tempting to cats especially, so don’t leave it laying around. If you place wrapped gifts under the tree, you may want to consider placing “scat mats’ around the tree to deter your pet from playing with them.
cat in Santa suit

Crystal plays Santa.

Holiday Plants

It turns out that poinsettas are not the deadly poisonous plant we once thought they were. However, its sap is still quite irritating, and can cause blistering in your pet’s mouth and gastrointestinal irritation if ingested, so some precaution is still in order if you have them around your home. Holly leaves and berries are actually more dangerous, and can be potentially fatal. Mistletoe can also cause upset stomachs, and can even lead to heart problems if ingested.  Even hibiscus can cause upset stomachs and diarrhea. To be safe, any plants placed in your home should be placed out of reach of your pet.


We also need to exercise caution with the gifts we give each other, as they can pose dangers to our pets. Aftershave and perfume are often popular gifts, but they contain alcohol, and may also contain oils which can be toxic to pets. Be sure to keep any such gifts tightly closed and out of reach of paws. Many gifts given and received these days run on batteries, from toys, to cell phones, to laptops and electronics, to anything with a remote control. The acid inside even a tiny battery which is used to prolong its life is corrosive. If chewed it can cause burns to your pet’s mouth, throat, and stomach. Even if it is swallowed whole, not only is it a choking hazard, but as it is digested the acid will leak out and cause serious potentially life-threatening problems. Be careful not to leave batteries laying around, and also take care that your pet does not chew anything containing batteries.  Even the packaging some gifts come in can be a potential danger.  The styrofoam peanuts or wire twist ties used to secure many items pose hazards for choking and intestinal blockage, and if ingested can land your pet in surgery.

black cat with catnip toy

Giuseppe sings the joys of catnip.


Believe it or not, potpourri is one of the more common causes of visits to pet ERs during the holidays. Many of us love to fill our homes with the scent of pine, or ginger bread, or pumpkin pie during the holidays. But that same fragrance that is so pleasant to us is also enticing to our pets. Both the liquid and the dry form of potpourri contain oils that can be toxic to our pets if ingested, and the dry form, like that that may be placed in bowls and set on tables, can be a choking hazard.  If using potpourri, be careful to keep it out of reach of pets.

The above information is certainly not intended as an all-inclusive list of the dangers that exist for our pets during the holidays. These are just some of the more common things that we all need to be aware of as we enjoy the holidays with our pets. With just some simple, common sense precautions, we can make sure that the holidays are filled with joy and happiness , and that a trip to the vet hospital is not among our holiday activities.

On behalf of myself and my furry family (Colby, Maddie, Jasper, Jasmine, Tasha, and Keegan), I wish you and yours the merriest of holiday seasons, and a happy, and safe, new year.

karen and dog

Karen with a friend's dog, Sequoia

About Karen Sable
Karen Sable, owner of Pet Emergency Training, LLC, completed the Pet Tech Instructor program in March, 2011 and teaches pet first aid classes in the Pittsburgh area. Karen is a trained responder with several national animal response/rescue teams, including American Humane’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services Team, United Animal Nations’ Emergency Animal Rescue Service, and Noah’s Wish Disaster Response Team. She is also a member of the PA/Allegheny County Animal Response Team, and a volunteer animal rescue transporter.

In addition to having a Veterinary Assistant diploma, Karen’s training certifications include Emergency Animal Sheltering, Large Animal Rescue, Animals in Disaster, Livestock in Disaster, Hazardous Materials, Incident Command and National Incident Management. As a former healthcare Human Resources Director, Karen now devotes her extensive training experience, and love of animals, to teaching pet care professionals and fellow pet parents the skills and knowledge that can save their pets and improve the quality of their pets’ lives. Visit her website at Pet Emergency Training, LLC.

An article by Karen on a timely pet first aid, wellness or disaster rescue topic will appear on The Creative Cat on the first Friday of every month.

November 2011: Senior Pets Make Great Friends!

October 2011: Help Your Pets to Stay Well

October 2011: The Snout-to-Tail Wellness Assessment

September 2011: Are Your Pets Prepared For An Emergency ?

Read more about Karen in The Creative Cat Welcomes Guest Columnist Karen Sable.