Litter-ary Cats: Mark Twain, Animal Advocate in Fact and Fiction

sketch of black cat from the back

Giuseppe Ignores Me, charcoal © B.E. Kazmarski.

Of all God’s creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.

Nearly everyone has heard this quote, though not perhaps in its full context, but it certainly clearly states Twain’s opinion of felines. It doesn’t appear in any published writing, but in his notebooks (Notebook 33, typescript pp. 56–57).

Though Twain clearly likes cats and lived with quite a number—up to 19 at one time—he also wrote fondly of other animals in his novels, short stories, essays and notebooks.  Animals often symbolized or outright bespoke his opinions about current politics, social issues or people in general.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

~The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, chap. 16.

While Twain’s animals led him or his fictional characters to conclusions, or he might ponder and consider just what they were thinking as they laid in the sun or grazed on grass or trotted purposefully into town, they rarely ever spoke themselves, talking to humans or each other. Just a few stories allow this, as in A Horse’s Tale, when one horse answers another’s question of whether or not he is educated:

Well, no, I can’t claim it. I can take down bars, I can distinguish oats from shoe-pegs, I can blaspheme a saddle-boil with the college-bred, and I know a few other things—not many; I have had no chance, I have always had to work; besides, I am of low birth and no family…

That horse is as smart as he needs to be, though he’s never had any formal education, and that was Twain’s opinion of education, that it needed to come from life as well as books and that you did as well as you could with what you were given.

And then there is “Letters from a Dog to Another Dog Explaining and Accounting for Man”. You can just imagine what the dogs have to say. You can find it in the book I reference below—read it and others so you can sit and have a good read and a good laugh.

Perhaps it’s partly because America was still largely a rural agricultural society that animals appear all over Twain’s writings, but I’ve read authors from the same times and places and they might mention harnessing the cart horse and nothing else. It’s clear that Twain really loved and respected animals, and in the day when animals were largely kept for their use to humans, first his mother then he and his wife Olivia were advocates for humane treatment of animals.

Twain was writing primarily between 1850 and 1910. The first SPCA in the US was founded in 1866 in New York; American Humane, founded to help both animals and children, was founded in 1877. Clearly animal welfare was in its infancy, yet he was writing directly about how animals should be treated, and also dispensing advice to persons about how to treat animals and incorporating that into his notebooks and letters.

Stories and wood engravings, “Mark Twain’s Book of Animals

While I find anything by Twain to be a good read, to focus on his writings about animals look for a 2010 book entitled Mark Twain’s Book of Animals, a compilation edited by Shelley Fisher Fishkin with expressive wood engravings by Barry Moser that show incredible animal personality. Fishkin compiled all of Twain’s writings about (and by) animals into this one volume including many works, some only a brief paragraph in length, that had never before been published. His writings are divided by decades beginning with 1850 with a full table of contents in front and title and content indices in the back. The 30-plus wood engraving illustrations in the book and on the covers were created for this book, not pulled from other sources, and many are humorous in their own right; I can tell you I’m going to explore wood engravings very soon. I checked my copy out of my local public library, but this may be one I need to own.

Specifically for cat lovers is a children’s book Twain “wrote” that was actually derived from his bedtime stories to his daughters about two cats named Cattaraugus and Catiline who fight often and have different goals for their day, just like the two sisters. A Cat-tale was written down by Twain from the favorites of the stories and also illustrated with line drawing by Twain as well.

Find these two books, and enjoy yourself!

I had seen in several places photos of one group of Twain’s cats, and I found them on a website with quotes from Twain about cats as well as a portrait of him sitting in a chair with a cat tucked in by his hip and some other really wonderful illustrations plus lots of quotes and stories. This is at www.twainquotes.com, and his cat quotes are specifically on www.twainquotes.com/Cats.html.

So now I’ll close with another Twain quote many cat lovers are familiar with:

A home without a cat—and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat—may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?

~The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, chap. 1

You may also be interested…

Literr-ary Cats: T. S. Eliot

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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.


“Dog Confessions” and “I’d Rather Be a Cat” Winners!

black cat looking at books

Jelly Bean and I had our work cut out for us.

So we have two winners! I did toss the entries in the air and see which one Jelly Bean went for, but five black cats each wanted to choose the winner! Seems the others were a little miffed at the popularity of the little brother. I think we may have some competition for the next book review…

So I put the cat entries in one bag and the dog entries in another and let a neighbor choose.

First, the dogs

image of book dog confessions

Dog Confessions: Shocking Tales Straight from the Doghouse, from author's website.

The winner of Dog Confessions is Ale Oliver!

Now for the cats

cover of i'd rather be a cat

I’d Rather Be a Cat: the Official “Better Than Dogs” Cat Book, from author's website.

The winner of I’d Rather Be a Cat is Lane Hill House!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

If you didn’t win, but you’d still like one of the books…

About Allia and where to find the books

Allia Zobel Nolan is an internationally-published, award-winning author of over 170 children’s and adult trade titles with close to three million books in print and a long career in publishing as well as a fellow member of the Cat Writers’ Association. For more information about Allia, visit her website or her blog. These books and others by Allia are available in print at bookstores and also on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and directly from the publisher.

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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.


Book Review and Giveaway: Cat Truths and Dog Confessions

black cat looking at books

Jelly Bean and I had our work cut out for us.

So which one would you rather be, a cat or a dog?

You’d think we’d rather be the cats we are, but Jelly Bean was very curious about these dog things. We found that indeed we would rather be cats because we are already superior, but that some things dogs do sound pretty fun and…a cat might use an electric toothbrush to clean his tongue.

Author Allia Zobel Nolan has done it again—twice—with a pair of brand new gift books in her usual quick and witty style and colorful, whimsical design: Dog Confessions: Shocking Tales Straight from the Doghouse and I’d Rather Be a Cat: the Official “Better Than Dogs” Cat Book.

images of books

Two new gift books by author Allia Zobel Nolan.

Both pocket-sized books—easily carried for quick reference in discussions of dog and cat habits and virtues—feature delightfully detailed photos of cats and kittens and dogs and puppies in action, often in close-up so you can see the sincerity in their eyes, so we know these words came directly from them to Allia.

sample pages from books

Samples page from 'I'd Rather Be a Cat', from author's website.

And for the pure visual enjoyment of we human readers, each two-page spread is in a rich and bold color scheme to complement the animal depicted, so that turning each page leads to another to pause and enjoy the view as well as what the cats and dogs have to say. As a designer and artist I reveled in the design and visual pleasure of these two books as much as what the cats and dogs had to say.

black cat turning pages in book

Jelly Bean is paws-free while easily turning pages with his nose.

Jelly Bean found the pages very easy to flip through using only his nose, very convenient for our animal friends who don’t have thumbs. If more books were this size, other animals would be able to read much easier.

And while JB might have seemed more interested in looking at the cats and dogs and reading their statements, he is an art cat and paused for extra study on certain pages. He especially liked the clear faces on all the animals as he could read their feelings much easier (though I noticed he paused longer on the pages that included food).

All in all, he found both the size and design to be very pleasing for a cat of his abilities and sensibilities.

image of book dog confessions

Dog Confessions: Shocking Tales Straight from the Doghouse, from author's website.

First, the dogs

Following the similarly-designed and eye-catching Cat Confessions: A Kitty Come Clean Tell All Book, Allia was asked to diligently research and write a similar book about dogs. What was a dyed-in-the-fur cat person to do? After all the “tweets, texts, e-mails and snail mail” from dogs all over the world “begging (which they do so well) me to let them to shake off the guilt of their secret indiscretions”, Allia agreed to let them confess and go on to live new lives as “good dogs”!

Happy to finally confess their sins in public, the 30 dogs in Dog Confessions freely tell of intentional misbehaviors such as knowingly eating things they should not have, trading money for treats and using mommy’s lipstick. But they also confess to sins of vanity, such as Harley Boy who gets a regular mani-pedi to keep in touch with his feminine side, and of Maurice the French spaniel who bleaches his moustache.

But they also confess to not indulging in things we all thought were typical dog behavior! “I’ve never told a soul this, but I don’t chase my tail.” Can you believe that? “I really hate begging…it’s so bourgeois.” No, it’s not entirely what you think, and you might actually find a few confessions that are, well, “cat-like”!

cover of i'd rather be a cat

I’d Rather Be a Cat: the Official “Better Than Dogs” Cat Book, from author's website.

Now for the cats

In Cat Confessions we discovered that even the things cats unapologetically confess to are clever and show superior intelligence and ability. I’d Rather Be a Cat confirms that cats are still unapologetic about anything they choose to do and they really are the quieter, more introspective species and much “purrrr-furrrrrr” it that way.

It’s true that “…when something’s considered unattractive, what do humans call it? You got it—a ‘dog.’ ” Yes, feline abilities are often used as analogies for speed, agility, cunning and dignity while dogs, well, you don’t see many new car models or national sports teams named after dogs. One could argue that the cats in question are usually big cats, not domestic felines, but a cat is a cat, and that’s that, right?

And anyone knows that, “Dogs are known for their annoying trait—barking. Cats are recognized for the sweetest sound on earth—purring.” Really, I’ve never heard that barking can help heal anything, but purring, cats have been proved to purr at a frequency that actually facilitates healing.

Some of the things cats have to say are truly profound as well. “Cats are intuitive thinkers. We weigh our options before we pounce, if, in fact, we pounce at all.”

The consensus: cat or dog?

cat reading book

Perhaps the dog would share if he lived with Jelly Bean?

While we confirmed what we knew, that cats and dogs are clearly different, we also found endearing similarities such as an attraction to human food, and a propensity for simply being endearingly manipulative. And while Jelly Bean agreed with the feline sentiments, he found the dogs very interesting since he’s never met one in the fur and paid close attention to what they had to say, especially the pages where food was mentioned.

About Allia and where to find the books

Allia Zobel Nolan is an internationally-published, award-winning author of over 170 children’s and adult trade titles with close to three million books in print and a long career in publishing as well as a fellow member of the Cat Writers’ Association. For more information about Allia, visit her website or her blog. These books and others by Allia are available in print at bookstores and also on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and directly from the publisher.

Jelly Bean would also like you to know that he is, indeed, a child star in one of Allia’s books, the afore-mentioned Cat Confessions. Read about that in an earlier book review.

black cat with book

The choice is surprisingly difficult.

So what is your vote?

I have a copy of each of these books, only reviewed by myself and Jelly Bean as you see in the photos, that I’d love to give away to one of my readers. Please comment on this post with your vote, “cat” or “dog”, to be entered in the drawing, and feel free to vote for both books! You have from today, March 10 to next Saturday, March 17, to cast your vote.

I’ll write your name on a scrap of paper, toss them all in the air and let them land, and whichever one Jelly Bean sits on is the winner. No, probably I’ll be a little more scientific than that, but the drawing will no doubt involve little scraps of paper and Jelly Bean and even a few other members of my feline household.

I was provided review copies of these two books by the publisher and know the author personally, though Jelly Bean has never met her.

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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.


Creating With Cats: Author and Artist Christine Davis

When you read an illustrated book, do you ever study the illustrations and wonder about decisions the artist makes about medium, technique, style and even subject? And what about the book’s physical size and shape, the whole little visual package in addition to the story that’s in it?

Often some or all of these decisions are assigned by an editor or art director working for a publisher who may have chosen an illustrator for their particular style or familiarity with the book’s subject matter. But when you are the writer, illustrator, editor, art director, publisher—and marketing department, shipping department, receptionist and all else that goes into making a book—all those decisions are made, or at least begun, with one person.

And so it is with Chris Davis, who began with a story and a vision, and ended up with a small publishing company to create, print and distribute her stories just the way she wanted them. While many people self-publish today, Chris began her venture in 1997. And while Chris said she’d written and managed many and various things while in “corporate America”, she’d never attempted artwork of any sort, but now she has to her credit five illustrated books featuring cats, dogs and other animals.

christine davis

Author and illustrator Christine Davis

A little background

Chris describes herself as a “stubborn New Yorker” who is used to “doing things her way”. As a fellow artist I understand this to mean that she has a clear vision of what she wants and of the best way to accomplish that, in this case to tell her story, and she will achieve that vision by whatever method it takes.

She actually began her working career while still in New York and “bounced back and forth” between gigs as a singer, either solo with her piano or with a band, and working temp jobs that required a very organized and detail-oriented problem-solver.

artist's studio with cat

Chris's studio with Molly.

While Christine grew up in New York, she has lived in Portland, OR for the past 35 years after following her muse across the country to such varied places as Tucson, AZ and Denver, CO to see where to best to live out her dream of living in and working with nature and all the creatures there; since 1991 in a house built on a quarter-acre wooded hillside. Her studio is in her dining room, and her cats enjoy a unique and attractive outdoor enclosure built just for them.

And while I associate her with cats after having initially read about the four sibling cats she lived with, Chris actually lived most of her life with dogs and began her career as a storyteller through a story inspired by her dog, Martha.

for every dog an angel

"For Every Dog an Angel" by Christine Davis

Gifts from her animal companions, and then some

Of course, her entire career as a published author and artist was inspired by her animal companions, and Chris reached for spiritual guidance as well. Chris relates that her forever dog, Martha, who’d traveled out to Portland with her, suddenly had what appeared to be a stroke, living two weeks in confusion and decline. Chris was determined to heal her but did not succeed.

She’d been working with a Native American healer and drumming regularly and turned to her drumming for solace. She was given the title For Every Dog an Angel in this way and “told that people were looking for this book” though she was not given the story; that had to come from within her.

Once she’d published this book people asked her for a feline-oriented book in the same theme, but Chris didn’t have cats then or know them very well at all. However, the universe provided them for her to learn about—that was when Jake discovered the four abandoned neo-natal kittens under the deck who they rescued and raised, and after getting to know them Chris could write For Every Cat an Angel with confidence.

After sharing stories with Chris in e-mails and seeing her books I e-mailed her, telling her that I’d like to write about her experience and about the technicalities of how she creates her art and her books, to which she agreed. I sent her my list of typical questions including what medium(s) she used, how she determined what images would illustrate her story and how she actually painted them, and we planned to talk. In just a few days, though, Chris had written up her answers to these questions as an essay and sent it back to me—an example of her quick and organized methods.

Forever Paws, by Christine Davis

While I’ve been writing all my life, I’ve never studied art and never knew I’d be illustrating my books. The closest I’d come to creating art was doing the company picnic posters back when I worked in corporate America. It was a big day when I added a red magic marker to my usual black marker and really jazzed up the poster!

illustration from for every cat an angel

Sample of Chris's illustration style.

When I wrote the first edition of For Every Dog An Angel in 1997 I met with some local artists, wondering if I could hire someone to paint the illustrations for me. Everything I saw seemed too majestic, and felt like it would overpower the simple words. So I grabbed a makeup brush and a $.99 tray of watercolors and did some quick drawings, hoping to show others what I had in mind. This unexpectedly led to my doing the artwork for all my books.

My beloved dog, Jake, was the inspiration for my books Old Dog & the Christmas Wish and The Shelter Dog.  The Christmas book is very special to me, because it was the last book I wrote with Jake still by my side. There are several sketches of Jake that were used in the book.

Until I wrote Forever Paws my main medium was always watercolor. I’m deeply connected to water, so when I paint with watercolor I use a lot of water, which helps to get the “flowy” effect in the art.

I’d been playing around with acrylic and began to see the fun of using that medium, so

Forever Paws was painted with watercolor and acrylic – plus a liberal sprinkling of fur (just can’t seem to get that out of the artwork!).

It was the loss of my dear sibling kitties, Dickens and Pippen, that led to the writing of Forever Paws. Losing them to cancer, within a few months of each other, left me brokenhearted. I knew that Dickens, Pippen and Jake were together again, but I missed them terribly.

Then I began getting these colorful images of the fabulous time they were having up in the stars. I saw flying dogs and cats, glowing paws, a river of tears…even a dragon! The message from Pippen was clear – there was another book to be written.

illustration from forever paws

"At the River" from Forever Paws.

I wrote the story fairly quickly, then began the task of bringing to life all the visions I had seen. One page in particular was quite challenging – the page with the woman holding out her arms and her critters touching her heart.

When I first sketched that page it was a completely different picture. After I painted it I could tell it wasn’t quite right. I drew the same picture a second time, but painted it with new colors. It was still wrong.

For a third time I drew the exact same picture, but I simply couldn’t bring myself to paint it. I realized I wasn’t moved by the art, and changing the colors wouldn’t solve the problem.

I sat at my table, closed my eyes, and held out my arms, asking the universe to please show me what I was supposed to paint.

And then I heard two words. 

“Paint this.”

I knew what that meant – paint this moment, with my outstretched hands, open to all possibilities.

So I picked up my pencil and drew the picture that appears in the book. It came effortlessly. I looked at the woman’s face and saw so much love and beauty there. I am particularly drawn to the spiral shape, and drew spirals all around the woman. Suddenly both the picture and I were at peace.

It was several days before I painted the illustration, but when I did I knew I had found what had been missing from the first piece of art.

This page is really what Forever Paws is all about!

illustration from forever paws

"Open Arms" from "Forever Paws"

I really love the story of the illustration “Open Arms”. While I’m sure all illustrators have their own way of visualizing what they’ll do and then creating their visualization in their medium, it isn’t always a straightforward creation, even when you are working for yourself. “Open Arms” helps to explain how even what you had thought was a good illustration can turn out to be the wrong one, and how visualization sometimes needs to be creative in itself in order to get to the right place.

And like most illustrators I know, she gives each of them a title as she is working so she has a convenient way to refer to them to herself or to others.

Color Palette

In addition to what Chris answered above, I had always noted her strong palette of colors: blues, greens, purples, natural choices for as much as Chris loves water and its imagery and said her entire house is done in these colors (and I will note that even in her essay each of the book titles was in a different shade of blue, purple or green). Another artist had mentioned to Chris the idea of using complementary colors like blue and orange and purple and yellow which are sort of “opposites” and which enhance the qualities of each other when used together. I had noticed a good bit of various shades of orange in Forever Paws and Chris said the use of orange was “a new thing” for her.

illustration from forever paws

"Woman with Cat and Dog" from "Forever Paws", an orange background with the blues and purples.

The book itself

Often the size, shape and binding of the book are determined by the publisher or by a convenient template or materials available at various printers, but in this case Chris decided that as well. She had the idea of a gift book and visited bookstores, looking at, holding and reading gift books until she found one that was “just right” and patterned her book after that.

In addition, where certain pages or parts of a book are often left blank, she decided to add at least minimal color or artwork to pages that don’t often have anything, such as the end papers with the starry violet pattern, and a few violet stars here and there on front matter pages that are usually only text.

selection of cat themed gifts

Cat Lover Comfort Gift Box from Lighthearted Press.

Promotional and complementary products

Chris also carries the same themes, styles, colors and even artwork through all of her promotional materials as well, and while she sells her books from her website much of her sales are wholesale to veterinarians.

She has also developed a line of complementary products such as her Rainbow Bridge Wristband, and a line of pawprint and dog- and cat-themed tissue packages, seed packages, scented candles available together or packaged in a pawprint gift box.

Molly and Star

Today Chris’s animal companions are Molly and Star, but she is certain that the universe will bring her another animal companion or companions, feline or canine or other, whenever the time is appropriate. And likely there will also be more books as Chris’s life with her animal companions continues to unfold. Visit her Lighthearted Press website to look at all of Chris’s books, read about her cats, stories of all her animal companions and remember her work when you or a friend unfortunately lose an animal companion.

Also read my review of Forever Paws.

Read other articles in my Creating With Cats series.

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All images in this article were provided by Christine Davis and Lighthearted Press.

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.


Book Review: Forever Paws by Christine Davis

Cover of book forever paws

"Forever Paws" by Christine Davis, from the author's website.

For anyone who’s felt the empty, aching void left in their heart by the loss of a beloved animal companion that no tears or words can seem to fill, Christine Davis’s beautifully-illustrated gift book, Forever Paws, will tenderly help to fill and heal it with loving and beautiful thoughts and images.

The comforting rich turquoise book cover and the calming violet end papers lead into a colorful world of starry backgrounds and pastoral pictures where polka-dot dogs and stripedy cats along with whimsical horses, bunnies, mice and birds all proudly display their glowing, magical paws, hooves, feet and claws as they wait in the hereafter for their human companions to join them.

And those human companions, with the impressions of those paws prominently impressed on their hearts, watch and wait and wander until their time comes to leave their tired old bodies and, led by the light of those Forever Paws, find their way to the bridge in the stars to meet again and spend eternity with all the animal companions whose paws have touched their hearts.

This story and its detailed illustrations as well as Christine’s other illustrated books are not simply the fanciful imaginings of an animal lover but the real stories of her own experiences with animals she has loved and lost turned into art. Years ago Christine’s forever dog, Martha, inspired her first illustrated book For Every Dog an Angel and launched an unexpected career in creating illustrated story books, and from there the cats and dogs who have shared her life inspired a series of similarly lovely and deeply touching gift books: For Every Cat an Angel, Old Dog & the Christmas Wish and The Shelter Dog.

page from forever paws

"Many Paw Prints" from "Forever Paws", provided by the author.

“Remember what you are feeling, there’s another book to be written.”

Years ago Christine’s forever dog Jake found a litter of abandoned kittens under the deck, and Christine took them in, bottle-fed them and raised and kept all four. At the end of 2010 one of those cats, Dickens, was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer so advanced Christine had to let him go just hours after the diagnosis, then she discovered Dickens’ sister, her forever cat Pippin, also had cancer and lost her just a few months after Dickens.

Losing two cats that close together can leave an animal lover of any depth reeling and complicate grieving—how can you do justice to two loving souls who’ve shared your life, at the same time? And then consider the relationship of the four siblings, now parted, the depth of saving their lives, bottle-feeding and raising them to happy healthy cats, and even the long-ago bond with Jake, who had found them. A tender heart might never mend.

In a note from the author in the beginning of the book, Christine remarks that although she thought she’d “said everything I was meant to say about loss in my books…”, someone mentioned she’d never written a book about coping with the loss of an animal companion. After the loss of Dickens and Pippen, her “world fell apart”, and she heard the words, “Remember what you are feeling—there’s another book to be written.”

black cat reading forever paws

Mewsette studies all the animals drinking from the "River of Tears".

Forever Paws is that book, “a loving gift from my precious feline friends…”, Christine’s own exploration of her grief turned into the universal story of our relationship with our animal companions: we meet, our lives lovingly intertwine, and though they must leave they take a little piece of our hearts with them and leave their pawprints in its place, then enjoy a peaceful and happy existence with other beloved animal companions, drinking from the river of tears and dancing among the stars until we go to join them. And even though they are not physically with us, they are always available to us, watching over us. Oh, that Purgatory could be so sweet.

I like books, and despite the fact that more often than not I enjoy audiobooks to save my eyesight for my art and illustration, I still like to hold a book, illustrated or straight text, read from its pages and let it carry me off through my imagination to another world. I can take a book off into the woods and not worry about devices or batteries or jostling the thing while I’m climbing down a steep path to my favorite reading spot along the trail. A book is always ready for me.

two black cats reading forever paws

Mewsette comforts Jelly Bean as they remember Peaches.

When I lost Peaches in October 2010, Christine sent me a gift copy of For Every Cat an Angel, and while I’d been corresponding with her and studying her style on her website and blog, I finally had a chance to study one of her books. What a pleasure to see not only her illustrations combined with her story and to experience the story as she intended us to see it, but also to admire the details of the book itself, the quality dust jacket and its sturdy bound cover, the book’s size and shape, just right for carrying along for comfort and holding to study each page and enjoy its message without being overwhelmed with details of content and images.

Christine published Forever Paws in late 2011 and sent me a review copy and a note that told me she’d taken the liberty of hiding the names of some special animal companions in the artwork, and had placed a bookmark in the page where I’d find Peaches’ name. I’m so proud that Peaches is forever remembered in this book that will touch the hearts of so many.

Christine also didn’t know that this book had reached me at an auspicious time for another reason. I wanted to immediately share this book with everyone, but I also knew the extent of Cookie’s illness and every time I sat down to begin my review I could not focus and knew I’d have to wait. Cookie’s paws have been burnished in my heart for years, and now she waits for me and I can think of her among the stars and the green grass with the other loving animal companions in Forever Paws.

illustration from forever paws

"At the River" from "Forever Paws", provided by the author.

About Christine’s career as an artist and writer

Because I love to study the work of other artists and discuss style and technique I’ve been planning a profile of Christine for my feature Creating With Cats. As a follow-up to this book review I’ve published that article, another story of someone who had didn’t start out as an artist but ended up that way, inspired by her cats and other animals in her life.

Please read more about Forever Paws on Christine’s website, Lighthearted Press and also take some time to read about her other books and the special gifts she offers for those grieving the loss of an animal companion.

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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.


Loving Care for Your Senior Cat, Part 1

photo of cat on table with flowers

I treated Stanley for kidney failure for four years; he lived into his twenties.

How old would you guess Stanley is in the photo above? If you know senior cats you may guess, but have a unique way of hiding aging from even the most attentive owners. Once cats reach three to four years of age they can go well into their teens before they show signs of physical weakness, arthritis, failing eyesight and hearing and other common ailments of an aging body of any species.

And even then they can often get along just fine with a good diet, lots of love, and a little something extra from their people. Just like senior humans have special needs befitting the physical age of their bodies, our cats will benefit from an appropriate diet and exercise, regular health checks and even some palliative care you may not give to a younger cat.

This was taken during Stanley’s last summer in 2006 when he was, by my best guess 24 years old, having appeared on my porch as an adult in 1986 with a body development that indicated a cat three to five years old.

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Gathering Portraits and People: My Book Signing and Art Exhibit

portrait of black cat in wicker chair

Samantha, pastel © B. E. Kazmarski

Samantha’s portrait and Samantha’s mom will be there! I’m really looking forward to seeing some of my portraits and portrait families tomorrow night from 7 to 9 at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall. Samantha’s mom is even bringing the photo I worked from, and she’ll be glad to talk about Samantha and her portrait. I am thrilled to be able to share this original portrait, so important to my career as an artist, with guests.

detail of portrait

Detail of Christie's face.

closeup of cat's face

Felix, detail of his face.

In addition to Samantha will be Felix and Christie and their mom and dad, as well as the other three portraits I’ve done for them. You can read more about these wonderful rescuers and their portraits in Big Kitty Love.

Milan and Felix

buster

Buster

Milan and Felix‘s mom and dad won’t be able to attend, but I’ll be able to show the portrait of these two wonderful rescued friends.

But you will be able to see Buster’s portrait and the other one I did for the set of two, and his mom will be there as well.

three orange cats

Amaretto, Simon and Merlin

I’ll also show Amaretto, Simon and Merlin and the other portrait I did of Cassie and Tyler, this family’s two dogs, and portraits from friends who will visit who are not in this calendar.

I will also be showing my personal portraits and feline artwork, including Peaches and Peonies, Waiting for Mom, Are You Looking at Me, Warm Winter Sun, Afternoon Nap, The Little Sunflower, Interior with Cat, Sunbath, Sunday Morning, Winter Window, Sleeping Beauty, and perhaps even more if I can carry them all. Visit “My Cats” on my website to see these and more.

Details of the event are included below!

Join me Thursday, September 22, 2011 from 7 to 9 pm at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie for a reception and book signing for Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book.

Augie

For that night only, I will display several of the original portraits included in Great Rescues as well as other original portraits, including some of my own, in the Reception Hall.

Many of the people whose portraits and stories are featured in the book will be joining me.

I will be happy to dedicate your copy to your rescued pets, to a rescue organization or shelter or, if it is a gift, to a friend or relative who rescues animals.


Celebrating the stories of rescued cats and the people who rescued them, and the artwork of animal artist and writer Bernadette E. Kazmarski.

I’m pleased to present my first published work, truly a labor of love from creating the portraits within it to collecting the stories and  designing, printing and publishing it.

buster

Buster

Reviews

“Lovely to look at and read and hold in the hands, Great Rescues is an altogether ‘up’ experience, where people are compassionate and good, and however troubled their beginnings, all cat stories have happy endings.” Marion Lane, former editor of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) newsletter Animal Watch.

“Received my copy of Great Rescues, a most exquisite book/calendar jammed-packed with irresistible fine-art paintings of cats of all kinds, and wonderous stories about them, painted and penned by Bernadette E. Kazmarski…I highly recommend this book; give it 4 paws up.” Allia Zobel Nolan, author of more than 170 illustrated books and former children’s editor of Readers’ Digest Books.

painting of dilute calico with amaryllis

Peaches

“This is one of the most beautiful cat calendars I’ve seen. The paintings are stunningly beautiful, and the stories are heart touching. And it’s so much more than just a calendar.” Ingrid King, author of Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher.

“I knew it would be breathtaking – after all, the calendar creator is artist extraordinaire Bernadette Kazmarski! But I don’t know if I was prepared for how engaging this beautiful work of art turned out to be. I sat down and read it from cover to cover – I just couldn’t put it down!” Chris Davis, artist and author of For Every Cat An Angel, For Every Dog An Angel and several other illustrated animal books, and publisher at Lighthearted Press.

You can read the full reviews from these reviewers as well as more reviews and comments and the continuing stories of the cats and their rescuers at www.greatrescuescalendar.com.

pastel painting of a cat peeking out from under a bed

Waiting for Mom, pastel painting © B. E. Kazmarski

Great Rescues is a 16-month desk calendar and gift book featuring 15 portraits of rescued cats I’ve been commissioned to paint in the 20 years I’ve been an animal portrait artist, plus the portrait of my own which I consider my first.

While the portraits are lovely and I’m proud of my body of work, the stories of these cats, and the people who rescued them, is what compels me to share them with you. Each of the stories tells of cats from shelters and cats abandoned and saved, cats found inside car engines and cats reluctantly surrendered by people who could no longer care for them, but each one has a happy ending as a cherished companion in a loving home.

page in great rescues calendar

Christie

And while each cat has an individual story, each rescuer has a story as well of reaching out to an animal in need to bring it in from the streets. In many cases they helped heal physical and emotional wounds and gave that cat a lifetime of love, in return receiving love and devotion; often those humans received some healing in return they weren’t aware they needed.

About the Calendar

Great Rescues is spiral-bound and measures 8″ x 8″ to easily fit on your desk or in a purse, briefcase or backpack. It has a die-cut cover with the title stamped in gold foil and each spread features a portrait  and the stories of the rescue and calendar pages including every pet day, week, and month currently celebrated listed in each month of the calendar.

collage of cats on notepaper

"22 Cats" Notepaper

Following the calendar section is a section of stories of the rescuers and their feline families today, notes on the design and rendering of each of the portraits, a mini cat-care book illustrated with my drawings and “22 Cats” decorative notepaper with a collage of all the portraits.

Visit the Great Rescues Calendar website to learn more and if you can’t join us on September 22 you can purchase one on the site.
www.greatrescuescalendar.com

If the calendar is a gift to someone, or you have a particular cat or cats in mind, I would be glad to add an inscription in the front of your calendar.

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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.