Daily Sketch: Massive Cuddle Puddle, the Sketch

conte sketch of three cats cuddling

Massive Cuddle Puddle, the Sketch, conté and charcoal © B.E. Kazmarski

So here is the sketch version of the massive cuddle puddle that blocked my computer red and brown conté and vine and pencil charcoal. Giuseppe underneath acting as a pillow for Bean and Mewsette cuddling in, they thought they’d get dinner that much earlier if they blocked my view but I made them work for their dinner as artist models in both sketch and photograph. Mr. Sunshine does not complete the foursome because I peeled a layer of paper from my charcoal pencil and he got to play with it.

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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.


Massive Cuddle Puddle Blocks Major Workspace

three black cats bathing in front of computer

Massive cuddle puddle blocks my computer.

This is what they were doing when I had to stop trying to work on my computer, well, one of the things. Then, with Bean underneath trying to sleep Mewsette and Giuseppe were sitting up and lying all over him and each other in various postures of happy kitty baths. In any case, I had very limited view of my computer monitor.

But the computer is not my only working medium. I got the most of out it I possibly could with photos and a sketch, coming up next.

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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.


Creating a Portrait From Photos, Ideas and Memories

sketch on easel

A good start on this portrait.

I’m preparing to start two portraits right now, and until I get a little bit of work done on either one I’d like to give a demonstration of how I’ve put different portraits together, in this case one of multiple cats who I had the chance to meet and observe and photograph, and also to get to know the customer and her house. I created this portrait in the late 90s and you’ll see still photos, my old workspace and computer and so on, but the process is still the same.

Your animal companion as fine art

They may be prizewinners or bedraggled street survivors, but no matter—each is precious and fills our lives with joy. And our animal companions were meant to be shared; we can spend hours recounting memorable moments to fellow pet companions.

pastel painting of black cat

Made up mostly from memory..."Are You Looking at Me?" pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

And creating a lasting portrait of your animal companion should reflect all those moments in what usually ends up as a composite image of years of photos and memories. I began to create portraits with my own cats, combining not just my reference photos but my ideas, creating the pose and composition I always envisioned when I thought of them, and so I approach everyone’s portraits in the same way. This is the memory you want to cherish, and it’s a piece of lasting fine art for your wall.

For every portrait I create a composite image from many photos, both digital and film as many of our animal companions’ lives go way back before digital photos, often choosing each of the subject’s characteristics from a different photo—ears from this one, paws from another.

I like to be able to meet them as well though this isn’t always possible since many of my portraits are memorials after a pet has passed, or it may be a surprise gift for another person, and large group portraits may include animals from both past and present.

cat peeking out from under bed

She did this every day of her life..."Waiting for Mom", pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

In creating the initial composite image I can remove a background from a scene and add another, include toys or even group animals together in a way they’d never pose, and you’ll see this in the two portraits I’ve used as demonstrations, below. And the best portrait isn’t necessarily a face forward shot of a classic pose but a typical event in your pet’s daily routine, or one of those singular moments you love to tell everyone about. The more interesting, the better it describes your best friend, and the more I enjoy creating it. Working from your photographs, your custom portrait can include one or more pets and even family members (I do people, too), in pastel, pencil, pen and ink, watercolor or colored pencil.

Portraits can be any size or shape (within limitations, of course), and I like to discuss where it will hang in the home as well as framing even before we start so that it fits both physically and stylistically where it will be enjoyed.

Ripley, Murphy, O.G., Veda and Missy Kitty

pastel portrait of five cats

"Ripley, Murphy, O.G., Veda and Missy Kitty", pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

The process is different for each portrait depending on what’s needed. This portrait needed just about all the tricks I have in my little bag! I had the opportunity to visit their home and meet each one of them, and so spent about two hours talking to their mom about each one of them and following them around, photographing them in their habitat and with their habits even though their mom also had plenty of photos.

photos for portrait

Organizing the photos.

Being able to photograph them myself gives me the best visual information—after all, would you photograph just your cat’s tail anticipating that someday you might need that photograph? I can do that if I feel I need it.

Their mom adopted each of them individually either from shelters or from rescues, so each had a story that added to what I gathered about their personalities. We talked about where the portrait might be hung to help determine size and certain elements of the design, but she left the details up to me.

Depending on the complexity of the portrait and how many photographs I have to combine to get the scene, I may simply begin the drawing with no preliminaries or will create a pencil sketch to size. However, it’s a rarity that I don’t combine fewer than three pictures, and for this one I lost count of the number of pictures I combined. I used to have to sketch it out, even enlarging and cutting and pasting on a copier but now I use PhotoShop, scan the photos or use the digitals provided and combine them into a final finished composite.

composite for portrait

Composite created from individual images and even bits and pieces of images.

This, of course, means I have to make up shadows and highlights and the lay of the fur when I get down to the final drawing and when designing the posture and setting, I try to place the subjects against a background area which will complement their looks. But it’s not all about their looks—in combining multiples like this, I try to pair together animals which are friendly with each other and keep the “enemies” far apart.

three cats in portrait

O.G. loved everyone while Veda was a little skittish and Miss Kitty kept to herself.

For this portrait, I created two composites which I liked equally, and so did my client, but in the end the spot over the fireplace made the decision for the long narrow format. Each of the subjects is a composite of at least two photographs for face, paws, tail, eyes, ears, etc. I had an idea to use the bay window with windowseat for them all because the light was so beautiful and each of them visited this spot regularly, plus I enjoy painting architectural details.

I then combined each of the individual composites, added the window in the background, and sent it off to my client for approval. When I began work, I enlarged the composite to the actual size of the finished drawing, printed it out, covered the back with a dark shade of pastel, and transferred it onto my drawing paper, which is an archival quality, 600-grit sanded paper.

After generally filling in the actual colors in the drawing and checking to make sure that everything was in proportion and in proper perspective, I was ready to work the actual drawing at my easel, with all the reference photos near. I usually work the background first, then work one subject at a time, keeping the whole work at about the same level of detail. I may go over a portrait three or four times this way, each time working more color and detail into the work. In this case, because the window is a large portion of the work, I wanted to make certain all the structure and detail of it wouldn’t compete with the subjects, so I left it with less detail and color than the subjects and the surface they’re resting on.

two cats

Ripley and Murphy were buddies.

The final pass adds the highlights in the fur, the whiskers and the sparkles in the eyes. When they look back at me from the drawing, I know it’s done. But it’s not really done until my client reviews it to make sure I’ve gotten everything right—after all, they are your companions, and I’d be just as fussy about mine. In this case, Veda was just not right—she’s a very tiny, slender cat, but shy, and the only clear picture I had gotten of her was of her hunched up a little scared under a table. Even though the image was accurate, it just wasn’t Veda, so my client sent me a few more photos of just her and I reworked that area. Since I had to slim her down and make her a little taller, and Veda is primarily black against a pale background, I had to actually lift quite a bit of pastel off of the paper and start over in some areas. If you compare the finished portrait at the beginning of this article with the sketch directly above, you’ll see the difference in Veda’s image.

A few stories of how other portraits came together

I’ll tell these in greater detail someday, perhaps when I can track down the customer and photograph the portrait again, but here are two portraits that too a little extra ingenuity to compose. Both are fairly large, image size about 20″W x 15″H.

portrait of calico cat

Gypsy, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Gypsy

Gypsy was just about to turn 21 when I met her, and the challenge was for her human to choose one position out of all those years of companionship by which to represent her. She had no pictures of this position, and of course Gypsy did not cooperate by posing, so we pieced it together with other pictures of Gypsy plus a picture of a pillow placed in this spot behind the curtains. After she lost Gypsy to a brain tumor, her companion told me that she had hung the portrait by the door and every morning she said goodbye to the portrait and greeted it every day when she came home. I was glad to know that something I had done had brought comfort to someone in time of need.

portrait of doberman

Greta, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Greta

Greta was a gift from a woman to her long-time boyfriend, a portrait of the dog who had been his companion for nearly fifteen years, and she had known and loved Greta as well. He was still grieving Greta a year or more later when the woman asked me about a portrait, but said she had no good photos of Greta, at least not ones she could take away for a while. She gave me a few small snaps, a magazine page of a Doberman who was marked like Greta, and described how she posed herself, crossed paws and all. I visited my neighbor who had three rescued Dobermans and took a few reference photos and did a sketch. Even though I was uncertain about it all along the portrait was a success; the man who’d loved Greta called me some time after he received it, in tears, and simply thanked me.

Take a look at other portraits and read other stories

Commissioned Cat Portraits

portrait of black cat in wicker chair
Commissioned Dog Portraits

pastel portrait of dogs

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Read about other recent commissioned portraits here on The Creative Cat.
Read about how I create commissioned portraits.
Visit my website to see portraits of my cats, commissioned cats, commissioned dogs, people and a demonstration of how I put a portrait together from photos.

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.

 


Happy Leap Day!

black cat leaping from a shelf

Super-Bean

Look, up near the ceiling, leaping his mom with a single bound, it’s Jelly Bean!

He spends and awful lot of time up on the shelf I installed above the doors on the landing, alternating, and sometimes sharing, with Mewsette. This shelf had once held a lovely selection of greenery because the landing has a wonderful wash of morning sun that made the plants very happy. It also made kitties very happy. Down came the plants, voluntarily, before one landed on someone below.

Just as I photographed JB he decided to leap from the shelf to the small armoire I use as a linen closet on the landing, just the right height for jumping up or down. But the effect of his movement, plus my unintentional movement of the camera to follow him, and the slight blur of the dim light made for a really unique effect. The shelf looks as if it’s floating, the corners of the walls above and to each side and the frame of the attic fan above all became abstract areas, not even shapes. Couldn’t do it again if I wanted to!

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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.


Daily Sketch: Three Cats Staring at Me

line drawing of three cats

Three Cats Staring at Me, ink marker © B.E. Kazmarski

Jelly Bean, Mewsette and Mr. Sunshine stare at me, waiting for me to do something, while I stare at them waiting for them to do something until I was sure they’d sit still for at least 30 seconds so I could draw my one long line, and they did, and here they are.

They were waiting to supervise today’s shift in the studio. This is a very important part of their day.

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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.


Mimi says, “There is No Shame.”

black cat with plastic collar

Mimi wears her collar and hides her spay sutures.

If looks could kill, I’d be splattered against the wall.

But she is glad to have been spayed, though I’m sure she hasn’t forgotten the experience yet.

I had Mimi and all of four her babies spayed and neutered in two successive weeks, on Tuesdays, the girls the first week, the boys the next, using the same low-cost voucher program. The Four were just about six months old and normally I’d get it done before that but with five at once, even with vouchers, I had to save up after all the kitten stuff—exams, shots, lots and lots of food.

Luckily no one had gone into heat yet, except Mimi whose biological clock rang loudly beginning about six weeks after the kittens were born and she started calling and prancing around and was out of heat for about 15 total minutes from then until I had her spayed. No wonder she’d had six litters of kittens. I’m not sure the lady wants you to know that about her past; this is certainly not the Mimi everyone knows today.

She was to be spayed much earlier. Because her kittens were there, even though I tried to keep them physically separate, she kept producing milk, and it’s okay to spay when they are in heat and producing milk, but if you can wait a while and hope one situation or the other will resolve you reduce possible risks. So she ended up being spayed with the rest of them.

black cat with collar

Mimi with the collar balancing on the sink.

And because one of Mimi’s kittens from a prior litter, Lucy, had died of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which first surfaced when she was spayed, I wanted to be as careful as possible. Also because of that history of FIP my veterinarian, and the veterinarian who would do the spays and neuters, agreed to do a little extra exploratory when they spayed Mimi, looking for any possible lesions on internal organs typical of some cats with FIP and checking into some of the lumps in her mammary glands. Mimi was probably about four by then and her body had been through a lot in that time living largely outdoors and bearing six litters of kittens. Her incision would be larger and instead of stitches she would get staples.

Did you know that staples are easier than stitches for a cat to get her teeth around and pull out? I observed Mimi and Mewsette the evening I brought them home and neither showed any interest in their incisions and acted completely normal, good appetite, litterbox use, social, affectionate, but still I put a soft collar on each of them at one point in the evening.

The next morning they were both wearing their soft collars turned backward around their armpits like blue tutus—I think they had worked on each others’ collars and loosened them, but not managed to get them off.

A section of Mimi’s staples were missing, and her incision was open. I ran her back to the vet, who sedated her, cleaned the incision and replaced the staples. She also gave me the hard plastic collar.

black cat with plastic collar

Mimi shows me how dirty her collar has gotten.

I don’t care how the cat feels about the collar, I want the cat to heal. Mimi really didn’t complain either. She’s very tiny, though, and even though I placed her food bowl on an upended water bowl the collar still bumped into the floor when she tried to eat. And you can see by the speckles on the collar that an awful lot of stuff ended up inside.

Mimi is a good girl. When I took it off of her and gave her food, she ate breakfast. I put it back on her. Same for dinner. The next day I fed them breakfast, Mewsette’s incision looked great, Mimi’s was no longer inflamed after having replace the staples. The phone rang. I ran downstairs. I didn’t come back up for hours. I hadn’t replaced Mimi’s collar. Half her staples were gone again.

Back to the vet, apologizing for this, saying I really do know how to take care of a cat who’s been spayed! We had to start her on antibiotics and pain medication and the collar had to stay on even if I was sitting right there, but I could test her as time went on. Veterinarians know wily cats, and Mimi was, and is, nothing if not wise. The staples stayed in for ten days, though she didn’t have to wear her collar that whole time.  For the next five days I did take the collar off for a few minutes and washed it while she ate her meals and nothing could make me leave her. Then I tested her for longer periods of time and the combination of the healing itself, the pain medication and the antibiotic helped to reduce the irritation so she quit pulling on the staples.

The veterinarian found nothing unusual in there. Mimi has healed fine. And now she wonders what all the fuss was about before she was spayed, but at least she has these four lovely children to show for it.

Mimi still says, “Happy Spay Day!”

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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.


Pittsburgh implements free animal spay, neuter program

bedraggled long-haired orange cat outdoors

Orange cat who needs to be neutered.

What a great way to celebrate Spay Day!

“Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and City Council President Darlene Harris today kicked off a free spay and neuter program that’s intended to reach 3,000 dogs and cats this year.”

READ THE ARTICLE IN THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE:

Pittsburgh implements free animal spay, neuter program.

DOWNLOAD AN APPLICATION:

This includes a choice of places where you’d prefer to go for your spay or neuter. The Homeless Cat Management Team is participating in this but is not yet on the form. Simply write them in when you choose your “preference” of where to get surgery performed, on the application.

CityOfPghSpayNeuterApp


A Little Bit About Kelly, Part 2: The Rescue

tortoiseshell cat at window

Pensive Kelly.

I had feline sisters in this strange place, as it seemed most of us were girls of various ages. I was frightened at first and confused by their sudden outbursts at each other and sometimes at me though all I did was try to get enough to eat and drink and to stay warm as it grew colder, but eventually I learned the way they communicated and what my place was in the group.

bedraggled orange cat on porch

Neighborhood Stray Cat

By that time I had seen a certain pattern in the other girls, the sudden yowling and extreme physical activity which was often quite entertaining even if it was a little frightening. I heard what I learned were male cats who sometimes entered our little place and while I ran and hid and covered my face and my ears and nearly fainted from fear of all the scrambling and screeching and what sounded like killing, I came to understand what was happening. And there were the swelling bellies, the births, somehow it was all connected.

I had watched kittens nurse and grow, and noticed that, even though the mothers found a protected space away from the group at first the other mothers would sometimes help with them, both mothers nursing and cleaning all the kittens even of different ages, and as their kittens opened their eyes and began to walk and tumble about even those without kittens would help to keep them safe, if at all possible, as it sometimes was not.

Watching this, I remembered being with my own mother and the feel of her tongue combing through my fur as she had bathed me while I nursed and we all purred together, how comforting that had been and I unknowingly cuddled close to a big tabby cat as I swam in this sweet memory. She tolerated it for a bit, then swatted me.

cats on sidewalk

Cats from a local stray and feral colony.

But this odd physical affection grew in me and soon I was prancing around and while I talk all the time I was singing now. The sisterhood was comforting and nurturing if still a little rough when to my surprise I came into my time and suddenly became emboldened and wandered, had experiences with violent male cats which were at the same time horribly frightening and more exciting than I can explain; I still bear a few scars on my neck from this time. I had no idea it would lead to my next life experience…my own babies.

My body knew just what to do when I gave birth, and the experience was very natural for me. I kept my babies clean and happy and had the same help from my sisters, but while I was busy being a momcat other things were happening. The weather was turning warmer and suddenly we heard people around the outside of our building and while we couldn’t understand human we didn’t have to—we knew they meant us harm. Some cats ate some food they’d left even though it tasted funny, and later they grew sick and died right there among us. Then a human pulled out one of the windows and pointed something inside, making loud popping noises and I just rolled in a ball and trembled with my babies until it stopped, and some of our sisters were injured and crying afterward.

I never saw the human who had always brought the food that had first attracted me, but many of my sisters did and were actually friendly with her; while I watched from a safe distance, humans were just a bunch of noisy stomping feet with long frightening legs and I never looked any farther. But when this human brought the food for us and discovered what had happened I understood the sounds she made were sorrow. She actually picked up as many cats as she could get from the outside and took them away. She came back later and took as many more as she could catch.

tabby cat living at abandoned house

Tabby Cat Living at Abandoned House

Later that day and the next, more people came, many footsteps and lots of human sounds and shadows outside, then inside above us, then in our very space, humans were among us! They were a very quiet sort, not the stomping, yelling sort, but I trembled again. One of them saw me with my babies in our little nook and came toward us, I could tell they were cautious, I remembered nice humans, a warm hand stroking me, a soft voice, falling asleep on a comfy lap—but I was overcome with the memory of the loud pops and the stomping and the death and I ran, I ran from the human and tried to get my babies to run with me, they were old enough, but they weren’t fast enough and the human threw something over all of them.

Hiding in the shadows with a few other girls I almost ran back to fight, but I saw the human uncovering my babies and petting them the way I remembered being petted, nuzzling each of them before putting them into a box. I could hear their familiar little mews, now frightened and again I started forward, especially when the human came quietly walking toward us with my babies and making strange little sounds of her own. We understood this human was safe but none of us would move. Eventually the human backed away, I heard my babies’ little voices fading farther, and all the humans left. All was quiet, the cats who had died were gone, things had been moved, everything was different.

But somehow I felt my babies were safe, and I decided to stay.

The small group of us who were left continued on but the humans, the nice ones who gave us good food and spoke in soft and comforting voices, visited more often and tried to make friends with us. They did make friends with a few of the other cats and took them away. From the number of cats who had once lived there, just a few were left.

But soon enough I found myself with babies again as did a few other girls. We grew accustomed to the humans coming in and feeding us inside, leaving bowls of water and now and then walking off with one of us, but especially paying close attention to the kittens. They even petted my babies—they were very young and couldn’t run but I ran a safe distance away and they never touched me. I was certain they’d take my babies again and couldn’t figure out why they didn’t.

Then one day one of them, who had been visiting me and my babies nearly every day, did a very strange thing, and everything changed forever. She approached us as usual and I ran off to where I always waited while she petted my babies. Then she put a wire thing next to my babies and put them in it! And then she left! My babies were in that horrible wire thing and I could see them but I was so frightened of the wire thing I just crouched in my corner and looked at them, pacing now and then. But soon they began crying, crying for food and for me, and they had to be cold and I knew I had to be brave for them. The room had grown dark when I approached the wire thing, much less frightening without all the light shining all over it, walked around it and smelled at my babies, then around again. They could smell me and hear me and began crying to break my heart and I forgot all about how frightening the wire thing was, I had to get to my babies and ran around and on top of the thing, trying to figure out how to get to them. I found an opening on the opposite end from where they were and ran inside, hardly noticing when a loud “snap” sounded behind me. I squeezed over something to get to them walked around and purred and curled around them, lying down so they could nurse as I nuzzled them and licked them as my own mother had all that time ago. We were all exhausted and soon they slept, while I worried, vigilant, in that wire thing, frightened that something awful would happen.

Moon and Sputnik on my deck.

As soon as there was just a bit of daylight I heard the human quietly enter. One of my sisters, more frightened than me and quite wild, ran silently for her hiding spot. A light shone in my eyes and I heard the human making quiet noises, coming toward me. I got up and flattened myself against the wire when I realized I had no room to run, leaving my babies just awakening and moving around. She made what felt like comforting noises and the light went out, then the cage began to move and I realized she was taking us in the cage. I looked up at her hand and trembled where I was as we moved through that dark space that had become so familiar, up and into the early daylight on a sweet spring morning, all was still quiet except birds singing their morning songs.

I was frightened, I would not look at the human and I didn’t make a single sound, but though I had no idea what would happen next I knew this was better than staying in that place, for me and for my babies.

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This portion of Kelly’s story is pieced together from notes in her file that had been related to the woman who eventually adopted her; I filled out the details from my own experiences with rescues of stray and feral colonies who were in danger from human activity and had to be evacuated.

We knew that Kelly had given birth to at least two litters of kittens though she may have had others as well, that the first litter was taken to a shelter though they could not catch Kelly. The woman who had regularly fed the cats had found them after the rat poison and BB guns then watched the colony closely and continued to rescue as many cats as she could. Eventually it was down to Kelly and a few other cats. She caught Kelly only by “using her babies to lure her”; I described what I had once done to catch a stray momcat.

The building had been condemned and was demolished, and I have no idea if the other cats were ever trapped and removed, but I am glad that Kelly managed to find a moment of trust and allow herself to be caught. I am also grateful to the woman who cared for them and saved so many, not just for Kelly’s sake but for the sake of all stray and feral cats who do their best to live in a world that is largely hostile to them. This would have taken place in late 1995 and early 1996 when TNR was still fairly new in many areas and colonies were often rounded up and simply euthanized.

tortoiseshell cat curled sleeping

Kelly Really Sleeping

But Kelly is still a few experiences away from the happily purring Kelly on my lap right now as we have two more chapters to go in her rescue story. Kelly has been the sweet, quiet presence you don’t see as often as her more outgoing housemates. I’ve long tried to condense her story, but decided that didn’t do justice to a kitty who’s been through a lot. Because her story is long and involves details of the story of a stray and feral colony along with Kelly’s own long path toward learning to trust humans, I’ll be telling it in several parts over the next few weeks for my Tuesday rescue feature. She has traveled a great emotional and spiritual distance to be the kitty you see today, and who is right now curled in a happy purring ball on my lap, head turned upside down and hugging all her legs together.

A magical kitty like Kelly in touch with a deep contemplative side, and I treasure the poem of that nature she inspired, “Pawprints and Raindrops”, which I featured yesterday.

Read all the chapters of Kelly’s story:

A Little Bit About Kelly

Part 2: The Rescue

Part 3: Saved At the Last Minute

Part 4: A Friend

Part 5: Home

And you can find Kelly in photos and sketches and stories all over The Creative Cat.

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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.


The Boys Don’t Get Off the Hook on Spay Day

black cat on sidewalk

One of Mimi's suitors who followed her over here from her former residence.

“Boys don’t have kittens, so you don’t have to get them fixed.”

Interesting concept, and taken farther than issues with unspayed and unneutered cats, boys do have babies, they just don’t give birth to them. But that doesn’t leave them off the hook for issues of animal overpopulation, not to mention the nasty behaviors unneutered cats indulge in.

gray and white cat nursing two gray kittens outdoors

A Stray Cat with Her Kittens

Even before Mimi, the house where she lived before she came to me had many cats, few of them “fixed”. It wasn’t that the humans didn’t believe in it or were uninformed, they just never got around to it, though they kept adopting cats and keeping kittens from their litters. At least one other female cat who lived there was also producing a litter or two per year, in the neighbors’ yards no less, and several males were strutting their stuff around the neighborhood.

“But they’re mother and son—isn’t that incest?!”

I kept on their back about getting their cats fixed and helped them find homes for the kittens, usually easing them into shelters, knowing these kittens were likely destined not to be spayed or neutered wherever they ended up. Eventually, a cat or two disappeared, they found homes for several of the ones they had, and they had all but Mimi spayed or neutered. And, eventually, we know Mimi ended up over here.

tabby cat on sidewalk

Just one of the guys.

But a neighbor one street over had, I found it hard to believe, four unneutered male cats in one house. They all went outdoors, of course, and at least two of them regularly found their ways to Mimi. I can’t imagine living in a house with four unneutered male cats who had roaming privileges; I know that people who breed and show cats will have a stud or two and they are usually pretty well-behaved. The owner of these cats, however, though it was really cool that his cats were the studs of the neighborhood and beat the crap out of all the other cats and the occasional dog or raccoon. He had no intention to get them fixed because they didn’t have kittens so he didn’t have to worry about it. I pity the walls of his house.

“I just can’t bring myself to do that to another guy.”

Not to mention anything up to 18 inches off the ground anywhere in their territory, including my storm doors, eliciting responses from some of my cats and from other outdoor cats, and so the pis–ng contest went on for years.

black cat on sidewalk

He has one thing on his mind.

This black cat was one of Mimi’s suitors. I’ll agree with her that he’s a fine specimen of a cat, and I can see where her kittens inherited their size. He went looking for her and pretty quickly realized she’d moved and found her here. She was still nursing the kittens but was in heat again, spaying was risky but I was absolutely certain that the two of them would rip a hole in one of my screens to get at each other. They didn’t, though even after she was spayed he still came around, looking sullen out on the sidewalk and mooning about her over in the neighbor’s driveway where they used to meet.

Several years ago, a friend of mine adopted a male cat and decided that, since she lived way far out and there probably weren’t any cats near, she really didn’t need to get her cat neutered. I did tell her that was a mistake for various reasons, not only because her cat would wander pretty far to find what he wanted, often to his own detriment, but that she’d be in one way or another contributing to feline overpopulation, something she was actually concerned about. But she didn’t believe me.

To her surprise, she found a cat nursing a litter of kittens in her barn. So her guy didn’t have to go anywhere, but apparently had room service—an unspayed female finding him and moving in.

She spent the better part of the next two years trying to catch all the half-wild and feral kittens on her property and working with the Homeless Cat Management Team in Pittsburgh to spay and neuter them all.

Neuter and spay, it’s the kindest way.

And neutering surgery is much less complicated than a spay, so it costs less, sometimes as little as $25.00! There’s very little recovery and little chance for infection or other aftereffects.

Find a low-cost clinic near you, have your cat spayed, encourage someone else to, spay and neuter a few stray or feral cats, or support a local clinic

Also look in the menu on this blog under “Assistance” for links to local shelters and spay/neuter clinics plus a searchable database to find the clinic nearest you anywhere in the United States and parts of Canada.

LOW COST SPAY/NEUTER INFORMATION FOR THE PITTSBURGH AREA AND BEYOND.

Referenced in various articles that encourage spay and neuter for pets, includes the lowest-cost spay and neuter in the city, a link to stray/feral cat clinics and searchable databases of spay/neuter clinics all over the country.

You can also do a search on “Spay Day USA” or any topic in this list and find plenty of information on the internet.

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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: Colorful Kelly

watercolor of cat

Colorful Kelly, watercolor pencils © B.E. Kazmarski

So pretend the blue is black, as I discovered the set does not have a black pencil, but here is tortie Kelly sleeping on my desk. I don’t mind the blue because it’s a complement of orange, the other tortie color, even though the orange here looks like a dark red. But as long as she has the round green eyes and the big rounded ears, she’s my Kelly, and it’s a bonus that she has the little hind paw with the toes spread and the front paw curled so she can bathe it.

This is watercolor pencil again, more fun each time…if only my scanner had a better eye for blue.

The next morning…

I was unhappy with the colors in this—the blue was too purple and the orange was just too dark, no one was really seeing what I was seeing so as soon as the sun was bright enough I too the little painting outside to photograph in natural daylight. Compare for yourself and see if you can find the differences.

watercolor of tortoiseshell cat

Colorful Kelly (same painting, photographed instead of scanned), watercolor pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

Watercolor is difficult because it’s transparent and when scanning, and even photographing, the light shines through it to the nearest opaque surface, which is the paper. Everything from ambient light in the room to anything else that’s in the shot or in the scan can influence the color balance.

And even with this, the sunlight was still too “warm” that early and the whites were a little shadowed; I could photograph it again later this afternoon and it would be different again.

Yikes! Sometimes I spend more time trying to get a good image of my little sketches than I spend actually creating them, but it’s all worth it. Colorful Kelly was very much worth all the effort since she was popular no matter the color balance, and I can see a lot of potential for her!

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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.