Daily Sketch: Trzy Koty

conte sketch of three cats

Trzy Koty, conté crayon © B.E. Kazmarski

Cookie, Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine watch the evening fall on Christmas Eve.

Sketched in red conté for the holiday!

“Trzy koty” is Polish for “three cats”.

Hope you have a very merry holiday season, whichever and however you are celebrating!


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.

Giuseppe Says….

black cat with catnip toy

Giuseppe sings the joys of catnip.

“Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

Of course, he is dreaming this Christmas Eve of his French Canadian belle femme, Mlle. Daisy Emerald Marguerite and practicing his romantic arias.

Earlier today I think I recognized a portion of “Che gelida manina” in Giuseppe’s voice sung from the top of the stairs for maximum projection and just the right echo; Giuseppe is, of course, a castrato and instead of the usual rich tenor, he sings in a melodic countertenor that I think would persuade any bella donna of his charms, especially when he can improvise in operatic Italian, adding lyrics about her emerald eyes and ebony fur.

Then there was much sighing as the darkness fell and he gazed out the window to the northwest toward the river town of Kingston in Ontario.

Mlle.’s mom has written to say that there was catnip on her laptop when she returned home.

If she only knew!

Buon Natale! Joyeux Noël!

If you have no idea who Mlle. Daisy Emerald Marguerite might be or why Giuseppe is so mysterious and melodramatic where she is concerned, read about their long-distance affair in this article, and be sure to follow the links to the very beginning when Mlle., a “mature” kitty, shockingly stated she was smitten with a photo of the young Giuseppe.

Giuseppe Mewses About Mlle. Marguerite


To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.

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.

An Animal’s Love is the Gift

Fromage with her ball and formula splashed across her nose.

Fromage with her ball and formula splashed across her nose.

Christmas Eve is here! Time for the biggest gifts and the best surprises, eating and drinking merrily, countless visits to friends and family, and generally overdoing it.

This year, you’ve decided it’s time your child had a pet. Or perhaps you and your friend, spouse, partner or other family member have been discussing adopting a cat or a dog. The holiday morning seems like the most exciting time to present the new kitten, the best gift of all, a memory to last a lifetime.

But what about the kitty?

black kitten with toy

Giuseppe Meets Catnip

Considering that entire books have been written on the complexities of introducing a new kitten or cat into a household, you’d think most people would avoid, or be discouraged from, introducing a pet to the household at an overcrowded, overstressed time like a holiday. But determined gift-givers are not easily discouraged.

An animal is not a gift
An animal is not a gift. The kitten or cat or any other animal is a living being with physical and emotional needs as complex as yours. Her life does not begin when she enters your household but, like you, she is involved in her own cycle of existence, including past experiences and present needs which are as much a part of her as those stripes on her forehead that caused you to choose her over all the other cats at the shelter. The real gift is the lifetime of memories and love that grow through the years.

The holidays can be dangerous

black kitten in kleenex box

Tiny Mewsette in tissue box

We get so caught up in our excitement and honest goodwill that we forget about what can go wrong. The holidays actually hold potential dangers for our animal companions (see “Pet Proofing for the Holidays” and “Holiday Pet Safety“). For instance, mistletoe and holly are both toxic to cats but we may decide to go all natural with a centerpiece that contains both items, or swag garlands of them enticingly around the windows. Even tinsel and ribbon can cause serious harm to a cat who decides to eat it, getting tangled in the twists and turns of the digestive tract and sometimes requiring emergency surgery.

If the recipient household isn’t accustomed to the presence of an animal companion, then those dangers are multiplied. You may not adequately prepare your household for a curious or frightened feline, and an accident within the house or an escape is entirely possible. Even if the household already has a feline or two, all cats are not the same and the new kitty may have habits the resident kitties have never had. The last thing you want your gift to turn into is the tragedy of an injured or lost pet.

Veterinary care at the holiday

young black kitten

Young Mr. Sunshine

Whether the household is accustomed to cats or this is the first entry, finding emergency care during the holiday season is difficult. Most shelter kittens and cats today are healthy and have received all the veterinary care they need up to the time of their adoptions; indeed, many shelters won’t even let animals go until they are spayed and neutered, have all the recommended basic care and are healthy and socialized.

But a new kitty is more likely to develop an illness under the stress of changing living accommodations. It may be due to an underlying condition not evident at the shelter or it may be acquired after joining the household. An injury may occur if the cat is frightened by the changes, or the cat may totally embrace its new accommodations and end up climbing the tree, walking across the stove, eating holiday decorations, leaving you to find an emergency clinic open on Christmas Day.

What about the recipient?

black kitten in bed

Giuseppe in bed.

As fun as surprises are, it’s the recipient who will be living with the kitty from this day forward. Even if the giver is in the same household and has furtively questioned the recipient to discover details of the recipient’s preferences, here are at least three quick reasons why the recipient should choose the kitty.

First, all cats are not the same, and forming a bond with an animal is just as complex as it is with another human. Of the billions of other humans on earth, or the hundreds we come to know in our lives, we only become real friends with a handful. What makes us think we can bond with any animal who comes along, or that a future pet owner shouldn’t have the chance to look for that little spark of love themselves?

Second, the recipient may have some preference as to where the kitty comes from. Every city and region has a list of shelters and rescue organizations which are generally bursting with cats who need good homes, and as difficult as it may be, you can narrow down the list somewhat using your own homemade criteria—the shelter that has the most cats at the moment, for instance, or one that has a clinic for which you can buy a membership for low-cost care in the future.

Fromage makes it down the steps

Fromage makes it down the steps

Third, you need to be absolutely certain the recipient really wants an animal companion. Yes, you’re sure that if you just get the cat into the house it will all work out, but it’s wrong for both the animal and the human to try to force the bond when neither of them actually wants it. Many people talk on end about adopting, play with other peoples’ animal companions and even visit or volunteer at shelters, but only they can decide when and even if they are ready for the commitment.

One other issue to consider is the impact on shelters after the holidays from impulse adoptions of pets. After the surge of summer kittens and stray animals is over, animal shelters are again besieged after the holidays with pets adopted then returned, or purchased elsewhere and surrendered because it just didn’t work out. Pets can’t be returned or discarded. You’ll find plenty on this topic on the internet—just two possibilities are a CatChannel.com feature entitled “Carefully Consider Kittens as Gifts” by Pam Johnson-Bennett, CABC, IAABC-Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, and Amy Shojai CABC has an in-depth article on cats.about.com entitled “Pets as Gifts: How to Give Cats as Gifts”.

I can speak to a number of these warnings. Indeed, I received my first kitten in a box under the Christmas tree the year I was nine and I will never forget that morning, but the kitten had an illness, my parents were inexperienced, emergency care was hard to find and I lost him the day after Christmas. The experience obviously didn’t dim my love for cats, and I wrote about this and how cats became an important part of my life in “The Unintended Gift”.

So let’s go shopping—for pet stuff!

Giuseppe is patient with this.

Giuseppe is patient with this.

All is not lost!  “Most people are so busy during the holidays—parties, shopping, guests, travel—that we often recommend people think about purchasing a gift certificate from their shelter so they can bring the animal into the household at a less busy, less stressful time and allow that animal to relax into its new environment and bond with its new family,” says Gretchen Fieser, Director of PR and Business Relationships at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. You can see if your local shelter or rescue organization has a gift certificate policy where you can prepay for an adoption or alternatively, make a donation in the name of that person. If not, make up your own certificate and put the money aside. Give the certificate at the holiday.

Best wishes on your new arrival!
When the big day comes, we wish you a future full of love and good memories with your new kitty. Take your time and get to know her—you’ll be glad you did!

I’ve used photos of black kittens—the Fantastic Four as babies and my little neo-natal foster Fromage—since black cats and kittens apparently difficult to adopt, though I can’t figure out why!


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.

ChipIn for Dorothy’s Pets: A Final Wish

five animals

Lilibel, Sylvester, Mickey, Barney and Petey are looking for homes.

Many people wanted to help Dorothy and her five animals, and while many would not be able to care for special needs pets they did want to donate to at least give Dorothy some assistance. Melanie has set up a ChipIn account to collect these donations, so if you know the story and would like to help, visit http://dorothyspets.chipin.com/dorothys-pets. If you don’t know the story yet, please read below, and visit the original post to read the volume of comments from people all over the world.

To date, Barney seems to have a good placement, and people outside of the Pittsburgh area have expressed interest in Sylvester, Lilibel and Petey, but for the purposes of home visits prior to adoption and for limited means of transportation, they’d like to keep the adoptions local if possible, or done with the assistance of a local rescue organization.

Here’s the original story…

In our rambles finding our forever pets, we’ve all encountered a lifelong animal rescuer, an individual so dedicated to capturing animals and making them well and whole that their life story is wrapped around with all the animals they saved. Such is Dorothy, who has saved and nurtured probably more animals than she can remember.

And in these extended families of rescued animals are always those who stayed with the rescuer because they were difficult to adopt with extreme or complicated medical needs, behavioral issues resulting from abuse or simply a personality that didn’t quite fit into another household. A rescuer like Dorothy would simply keep them on and care for them for the rest of their lives.

Dorothy has tragically developed brain cancer and is very near the end of the time she’ll be able to care for the five animals who still live with her, and as her final wish for their welfare she’d love to know they are in loving homes before she succumbs to her condition. If you can foster or adopt, or know of a rescue or shelter that has room for any of these special needs cats or dogs, Dorothy’s friend Melanie is the contact person whose information is at the bottom. Please share this as far as you can and hope that Lilibel, Mickey, Sylvester, Barney and Petey can find homes as nurturing as Dorothy’s.

From Melanie

My dear friend is nearing the end of her life due to cancer. She has 5 great pets that need re-homed soon. Dorothy would like to continue to care for her pets until she is too ill to do so. This could be a couple of weeks to another month or so. Dorothy has been a rescuer and friend to the underdog for most of her life. She is really trying to hang in there to make sure her pets find great new homes. I hope you can help make her final wish come true.

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