Daily Sketch: Kelly Ball

sketch of tortoiseshell cat on papers

Kelly Ball, colored pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

Kelly has been sleeping a little more comfortably on my desk, right on top of everything. And there’s a lot there to sleep on.

But she has a totally endearing habit of rolling herself up into an ever-tighter ball of tortie spots with her legs all tangled and her tail twisted in there and her head turned sideways or upside down. Cutest of all, which you sadly can’t hear in her sketch, is how she talks to herself and to me, making little happy Kelly sounds, chirps and soft mmmrrrrrrrs, now and then a real meow.

And I nearly always take a reference photo even of my sketch subjects. In this case, I knew she wasn’t going to hold the post for too long so I could work from the photo, and in some other cases I might want to use the reference photo for something more finished at another time. It never hurts to have more photos of cats around.

Colored pencil again; it’s become a convenient way to use color with shadings I can’t get in marker and I don’t have to worry about the mess of chalk or oil pastel, and now special paper for watercolor. I’ve never felt I handled colored pencil well, but after all these sketches of my cats I fell much more confident about them.

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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.


Mademoiselle Has Sent Me a Valentine?

black cat looking up

Mlle. has sent me a Valentine?!

“I heard that my most ever-precious French-Canadian belle femme Mlle. Daisy Emerald Marguerite, my gem, il mio amore, my mature and most dignified love who lives in the Canadian city named for Kings by the river has sent me a Valentine! O, my heart flutters with anticipation! When will it arrive? Is it coming in the computer? Or is it coming in the thing called ‘mail’?”

I don’t know how Giuseppe found out. He has been singing in the stairways his fine castrati voice, getting the best vibrato and projection, and sitting by the big north window, looking toward the northwest thinking of how the same moonlight and the same snow are falling on Kingston and Carnegie.

Mlle.’s mama and I decided not to let him know because he is the operatically overly melodramatic kitty and would wait by the door until he fainted from hunger if he knew something was on its way from his love Mlle. Daisy. They have been regularly corresponding by computer and through the air, and convincing their humans to type real messages back and forth in “e-mail”.

Well, yes, Mlle. Daisy has mailed a Valentine to her young American love, Giuseppe Verdi. Giuseppe was preoccupied with his older sister and with his Mama Bernadette and did not send off a Valentine in time (especially since we have no idea what sort of time warp things travel through as the cross the border into and out of Canada and so have no idea when things will arrive). But Giuseppe and I have prepared a wonderful gift for his amour, for her to hang in her room in the house in Kingston.

And when the Valentine arrives, I will he sure to record his joyous celebration. In the meantime I hope I can keep him under control when the mail arrives each day.

Catch up on the affaire between the young American cat, four-year-old Giuseppe Verdi, and his mature French-Canadian admirer, 12-year-old Mlle. Daisy Emerald Marguerite. It is sure to be a good show when the Valentine arrives.

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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.


Living Green With Pets: Flowers for Your Valentine

cat sitting behind vase of flowers

Sophie is not eating the flowers! "The Perfect Camouflage", pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Apparently, you can’t go wrong with roses, either for your Valentine or for your kitty—as long as they don’t have thorns! The roses, I mean.

Many of the cautions in this article apply to dogs as well, but cats are a little more sensitive to certain plants—lilies, for instance, may give a dog a tummy ache but they may kill a kitty—plus kitties can jump and climb and get themselves into truly amazing places, so I am focusing on cats for this article. But for any pet, please be cautious of flowers and plants and keep the list of toxic species linked at the end handy.

pencil sketch of cat with flowers

Would a cat eat a daisy? Namir did. "Conversation With a Daisy", pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

Cats aren’t necessarily particular in what greens they’ll nibble on; generally they’ll try anything green and fresh, and some cats will completely chew down a plant that can’t have tasted very good and wasn’t very easy to chew. They don’t stop with leaves, either, but will eat the petals off of a flower.

And while many pet owners know the dangers of various houseplants, most people don’t associate cut flowers with these dangers, yet many cut bouquets include flowers from  some of the most toxic plants for cats and dogs. What makes it complicated is that we recognize them when they are individual growing plants, but may not even notice them in a mixed bouquet.

Some plants cause gastric upset which can be a mess to clean up and is uncomfortable for your cat, but it can also have long-lasting effects such as ulcers in the mouth or digestive tract, and excessive vomiting or diarrhea can dehydrate and even kill a very young or old cat.

white lilies

Sunday Best

Other plants more seriously affect a cat’s organs and can be deadly within hours, even to a healthy cat.

Lilies in all their forms

Lilies in just about all their species can cause kidney damage in cats which is permanent and can lead to kidney failure within 48 hours if left untreated.

alstromeria

Alstromeria

Sure, we know the big white lilies at Easter, but consider an everyday small grocery story bouquet: a few yellow mums, some white daisies, pink carnations, fern, baby’s breath and—alstromeria, a South American lily, which comes in colors from white to scarlet.

Or a medium-sized get-well bouquet: Yellow roses, white mums, blue larkspur and—two big pink Stargazer lilies.

And what used to be part of my favorite backyard bouquets in spring: pink climbing rose, red rambler rose, Shasta daisies, blue widow’s tears and—big orange daylilies.

Bulb-forming plants

purple tulips

Purple Tulips

Instead of a bouquet of cut flowers we’ll often give or receive bulbs forced to bloom early in baskets and pots. I used to welcome the new year and the last long days of winter with forced bulbs all over my house as pots of paperwhite narcissus, trays of daffodils and baskets of mixed fragrant tulips, hyacinth and crocus along with squills and starflowers.

Then I learned that any part of these plants can not only cause gastric upset but also organ damage, specifically kidney damage and heart failure. I remembered a healthy fifteen-year-old cat I’d lost years before to acute kidney failure—her kidneys just failed one day and I had to put her to sleep the next. This can happen without an outside stimulus, but I’ll always wonder if that was the cause and I have never forced bulbs in any place my cats could get them since then.

In the same way, onion and garlic, also bulb-forming plants though they are considered food, are toxic to cats.

Other plants

rhododendron flowers

Rhododendron

While most plants are not that immediately toxic, other plants, such as azalea and rhododendron, lily of the valley, ivy and yew can be deadly to cats in impaired health or kittens, since they’re small enough to get a big dose with an enthusiastic bite. Though not deadly for adult cats in good health, they’ll often cause extreme abdominal pain, nausea, salivation and vomiting. Repeated exposure can be cumulative with some plants.

Sometimes cats have no sense

“Oh, she’ll stop eating if she gets sick,” or “she won’t eat this, it’s got little thorns”, don’t believe that. I’ve seen cats try to eat cacti, drool while they are chewing aloe and vomit up philodendron and go back to eating again. Don’t rely on their non-existent common sense, just remove the plant.

You can’t really punish them for following both a natural impulse and a physical need. We don’t really know why cats, obligate carnivores with no obvious need for greens, chew on grass, but some guess they help cleanse their mouth and digestive system, and to add fiber to their primarily protein diet to aid in elimination. An indoor kitty will take what she can get to simulate the natural outdoor environment she craves.

namir in plant

Namir in the arboricola.

The problem is that, while you may get some cats to stay away from your plants, most cats will return again and again, even if they suffer discomfort from their snack. The best way to keep your cats safe from plants is to put the plants completely out of reach—bearing in mind that cats can jump six times their height and can be ingenious about launching from strategic furniture to get into a hanging basket. Sometimes it is necessary to completely remove the plant from the house, no matter how much you like it.

Signs of plant poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, and swelling or pain inside the cat’s mouth. If you know or suspect which plant your cat has eaten, identify the plant by name when you call your veterinarian. Bring samples of the plant’s leaves or flowers when you take your cat to the veterinarian for treatment.

Keeping your cat out of your plants…?

black cat in plants

Loo-See of the Jungle

What happened to that nice spider plant you used to have? Oops—while enjoying the scene out the window, Fluffy forgot it wasn’t just a clump of grass and chewed it down to little nubbins. Then, because it really wasn’t grass and really wasn’t digestible by her little system, she deposited it back on your carpet in a most inelegant manner.

And that wandering jew? She used it for a bed? I’ll bet she looked sweet.

A determined cat will do what she wants. Remember, you have to sleep some time.

As for the non-toxic flora, even though Fluffy won’t suffer if she chews on it (unless you get your hands on her), you still don’t want her shredding your greenery. Several commercial sprays will give the plant a bad smell and/or taste without damaging the plant with recommended use, and a nibble by Fluffy will not harm her. One product is “Bitter Apple for Plants”, a stronger version of which is available for dogs learning not to chew on everything. Other products are named “Off for Cats” and such like, and simply smell bad.

You can also try your own home brew by dabbing hot sauce on the tips of some of the leaves, or rubbing a citrus peel on the leaf. For the sake of your plants, however, just try it on one or two leaves to make sure you won’t fry the whole plant in an effort to keep Fluffy from eating it.

You could also place “Sticky Paws” on the countertop around the arrangement or plant so that when she steps close to the plant she steps on the product and backs off; please read the instructions on the Sticky Paws package for what surfaces are appropriate for its use.

Distractions

peaches with cat greens

Peaches with her Cat Greens

One other thing to help the situation—and it’s a nice thing to do for your cat even if you don’t have a plant problem—is to plant her own pot of greens and make it available to her at all times. Don’t use regular plant seeds such as grass seed because some seeds are treated with chemicals, at least check before you use them; instead, purchase “cat greens”, usually a mixture of wheat, oats and barley grains, all three of which are not only a pleasure for your cat, but full of nutrition. Some other commercial “cat greens” mixtures contain catnip, a sure winner, sage, parsley, chickweed, colt’s foot grass, and other herbs and wild plants that your cat would eat if outdoors.

Most of these plants can be grown in a small container on a windowsill, and if you keep two containers growing, one available to the cat and one just sprouting, you can have a constant treat for her. These plants need a good bit of sunlight to thrive, so try to find a sunny spot that your cat can get to. It will serve two purposes: because she tends to chew when she’s gazing at the outdoors, you’ve provided exactly what she needs for her little interlude.

Keep toxic plant and flower information handy

Your local veterinarians and shelters often have lists of toxic flora has handouts, and plenty of resources exist on the internet.

And as far as those flowers, you just can’t go wrong with roses!

17 Common Poisonous Plants

ASPCA Searchable Database of Plants

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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.