Homeless Cat Management Team Clinic May 20

stray black cat

Stray black cat.

A no-charge clinic date for stray and feral cats in managed colonies is right around the corner on May 20, 2012, sponsored by the  Homeless Cat Management Team (HCMT. If you are a colony manager, get your traps ready and make your appointment. If you’re not yet registered as a colony manager, call now to register.

Register as a colony caretaker, then register for the clinic.

First, you need to register as a colony caretaker in order to be able to have cats spayed and neutered by HCMT. Call 412-321-4060 and leave a message; someone will return your call and complete your registration as a caretaker.

Second, you need to pre-register for the clinic you want to attend, and you will receive a confirming phone call to be included in the clinic. Cats MUST arrive in a standard humane box trap (Havahart, Safe-guard, Tomahawk, Tru-Catch, etc.) for the safety of all involved, with the exception of rescue cats.

All clinics are held at the Animal Rescue League of Western PA, 6620 Hamilton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206.

As part of the clinic feral cats will receive:

  • spay/neuter
  • rabies vaccination
  • penicillin shot
  • analgesic
  • treatment for fleas, ticks and ear mites
  • mandatory ear-tipping

homeless cat management team logoAbout the clinics

Homeless Cat offers both no-charge and Fast Track clinics where feral cats receive all the above care and a mandatory ear-tipping, the universally-recognized sign of a cat who has been “trapped-neutered-released”. The no-charge clinic is just that—neuter, vaccinations and care at no charge for feral cats. They advise that the no-charge clinics fill up quickly, so they also offer the Fast Track clinic which offers the same service for $45 if the cat in question can’t wait.

Rescue cats

HCMT clinics are generally reserved for cats who are part of a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program and who will be returned to their colony, not taken into a home as a pet or entered into a shelter, rescue or other animal adoption program. This helps the organization and individuals spay and neuter as many homeless outdoor cats at the least cost possible for the person managing the cats, reducing future populations with each surgery.

However, they’ve recently begun to offer services to “rescue” cats on FastTrack clinic days, because it’s sometimes not possible to put a cat back outside because of health or circumstances. Also, the person who rescued the cat has often been feeding and caring for it for some time, a bond grows between them and instead of putting the cat back outside, the rescuer will take them in, an even better solution for the cat, and also the person.

FasTrack clinics are usually $45 per cat, but for rescues the pricing is a little different:

  • $60 for females
  • $35 for males
  • Rabies shots are an additional $8

Also, rescue cats do not have to be in humane traps, which is a requirement of strays and ferals, they can come in carriers.

City of Pittsburgh Spay and Neuter Program

At the end of February Pittsburgh’s City Council approved a program sponsored by Council President Darlene Harris that will provide a voucher for up to five pets per household to City of Pittsburgh residents. The bill allocates $170,000 toward the program, yet the city spends much more than that in combined animal control costs. Council decided that spaying and neutering pets of city residents will result in reduced costs immediately and into the future. Read more about it here, and if you are a City of Pittsburgh resident you can also download a form here: City of Pittsburgh’s free spay and neuter program.

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.

Upcoming clinic dates

  • 5/20  no charge
  • 6/10  Fast Track

Keep those dates in mind, and read below about how HCMT works.

About HCMT

If you are near Pittsburgh and manage a colony of stray and feral cats or are feeding stray or feral cats anywhere outdoors, you need to know about the Homeless Cat Management Team and how they can help you care for your colony, especially with their spay and neuter clinics.

If you’re not near Pittsburgh, read on and see if there may be an organization that can help you do the same for strays and ferals near you. I’ve also included links to information about caring for strays and ferals in winter and how you can help stray and feral cats in general.

This is especially important now, as later summer and autumn kittens will begin going into their first heat as soon as the lengthening days turn their little biological clocks to “on” along with their mothers. Cats can go into heat as young as four months and can reproduce with parents and siblings.

HCMT is working toward a new permanent clinic

A permanent clinic would allow HCMT to spay and neuter 7,000 cats every year which will save the lives of tens of thousands of cats in the Pittsburgh area. Donations can be sent to HCMT, P.O. Box 100203, Pittsburgh, PA 15233-0203 or through JustGive at the HCMT website www.homelesscat.org. If you donate, include a note on the memo line about “permanent clinic” or “capital campaign”.

You can also help HCMT both generally with day to day fundraising and with outreach and fundraising for the new clinic with your volunteer efforts such as public relations, coordinating pro-bono services for printing and media, outreach, grant writing and even researching potential salary and benefit packages for clinic employees. Check Our Future on the HCMT website.

Visit their website to read more about the permanent clinic.

gray and white cat nursing two gray kittens outdoors

A Stray Cat with Her Kittens

The issue of feline overpopulation

Cats left in colonies will produce as many kittens as their bodies will allow if left unaltered, leading to disease and suffering and way too many kittens who then go on to produce more kittens.

It’s not likely, but a cat can have up to five litters in a year, bearing 6 or more kittens per litter over the course of as many as ten years, which adds up to about 300 kittens from one female cat in the course of her lifetime, not to mention the kittens her kittens produce.

More realistically, say she only has three litters of four kittens per year as Mimi did, that’s still a dozen new kittens, and even with an average 50% survival rate, that’s 60 kittens born over five years. Now add in all the kittens that those surviving kittens produce in addition to their mother, and it’s just out of control.

Ever-expanding colonies are also often the targets of abuse and “extermination”. Shelters are already full of cats who need homes, so rescue is unlikely.

The Homeless Cat Management Team offers the “Trap-Neuter-Return”, or TNR, service for feral cats which is an internationally-recognized method of helping to solve these problems by stopping the cycle of kittens and overpopulation. They just can’t produce any more kittens—and they don’t engage in the most annoying feline behaviors, such as spraying, calling for mates, caterwauling and fighting, noisy and odorous activities that often turn people against cats and colonies of strays and ferals.

tabby cat living at abandoned house

Tabby Cat Living at Abandoned House

This service is not available for household pets or even cats simply kept outdoors if they are owned by a person. This is intended to reduce stray and feral populations in colonies, cats who aren’t owned by anyone, so before registering for the clinic you must first register as a colony caretaker. For more details on the process of registering yourself as a colony caretaker and registering for a clinic, please visit the Homeless Cat Management Team’s website at www.homelesscat.org. You can also find other clinic dates and information on how you can help feral cats in many other ways.

If you’re not near Pittsburgh and you’d like to find out if there is a TNR organization near you, visit the Feral Cat Organizations listing on the Humane Society of the United States’ website. You can also find information on the Alley Cat Allies’ website under Make Connections. You can find yet more resources on the ASPCA website under TNR and Colony Management.

You don’t need to manage a colony top help feral cats. You can donate to, assist or even start a local TNR program in your area. The HSUS’s article What You Can Do to Help Feral Cats covers finding local organizations, listing options and how to pursue helping or starting a local organization, and they also have a Program Fund that you can donate to in order to assist them in helping local organizations form and operate.

Alley Cat Allies is all about assisting colony managers, and you can also donate to this organization in order to help the larger effort of local organizations.

And Alley Cat Allies has what I think is the most comprehensive information on just what feral cats are and how to care for them, including several articles on winter care, outdoor shelters, feeding and providing water in winter and avoiding hazards from chemicals like road salt and anti-freeze.

In addition to the articles, they also have a Video Library that demonstrates how to trap ferals, how to care for them, the clinic procedures and even how to speak to the public about feral cats.

You’ll also find information on other topics, such as feeding strays and ferals, letting your cat mix with strays and ferals and legislation around the country and in Canada regarding their treatment.

Here are the quick links to the sites above:

Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Rescue
HSUS Feral Cat downloadable handbook 

It’s difficult for we who love cats not to think of each of them as potential companions for us, but true feral cats were never pet cats and while they can be tamed they are a few generations removed from human contact and they’ve adapted to life without the assistance of humans. The TNR program stops the cycle of reproduction and provides them with vaccinations and care that help to protect the larger society of all cats, but the intent is not to provide them with ongoing veterinary care as we do our indoor cats, or to find them permanent homes.

That’s not to say that feral cats can’t come in. I’ve seen some feral cats who’ve been brought in to shelters for various reasons, usually because a colony was threatened by abuse or extermination, and I even rescued a single cat from a feral colony years ago, my little Moses who was near death from starvation, literally laying down and not moving she was so far gone. She was young and learned to live in the house, and she and I enjoyed nineteen years of a close and loving relationship, but I could never pick her up, she was terrified of other people though she was timid and never acted out.

A friend adopted a rescued feral from a shelter where she volunteered, and MacKenzie mingles with the other cats but has her rules, especially the one about not being put in a carrier or she’ll offer to slice open your hand, and other clever cat tricks.

Find a low-cost clinic near you

Spaying and neutering surgery can be done for as little as $25.00. 

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

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.

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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.



Daily Sketch: Kelly on the Windowsill

ink and watercolor of cat on windowsill

Kelly on the Windowsill, ink and watercolor © B.E. Kazmarski

Kelly enjoys the sun on her back on the bathroom windowsill, and also likely the reflected heat from the deck roof, just below. It’s not all that warm, but just warm enough to have the windows open in mid-afternoon. The pussy willow is right outside the window and the dappled leaves were charming, and the blue sky beyond.

Another combination of media that I enjoy, ink and watercolor. In this case I did the ink sketch first, then scribbled into it with watercolor pencil. The watercolor pencil is a two-part technique, first the drawing, then the watering. In this case I knew I’d want to leave some of my sketching lines and in other cases I wanted to obliterate them.

In other cases, such as the sky and the wall beneath her, I wanted both and I was very pleased with what happened when I just brushed a water-filled brush over my lines. I could achieve a multitude of techniques this way, with just random washes in the sky where I used the brush on its side, but patterned washes in the shadow on the wall where I used the tip of the brush (that’s a white sable no. 4 round, students, you know who you are) in straight parallel lines running through the angled watercolor pencil lines in green and blue.

This is the first time I’ve used this new set of watercolor pencils, Prismacolor 12-color set water-soluble colored pencils. The Derwent set had an excellent reputation, but I found them to be kind of weak in color, especially the darks, once I got the washes on it. I had also used them for a huge illustration for a sign I just finished and had to go over and over areas in order to get them as dark as I wanted, which took away from the feeling of freehand sketching.

In the Prismacolor set, the colors dissolved and blended easily though I’m not sure why the dark green in the leaves did not; it did where I used it in Kelly’s shadows. I had wanted to brush the two greens together to look more random and leafy.

I should have done some color test swatches with the pencils before I began to be sure what shades they would end up. The sky and the shadow on the windowsill behind Kelly are two different shades of blue, but they certainly don’t look like it and kind of blend together.

But so far, I like this set much better than the other two.

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Click here to see other daily sketches, and for a gallery of the ones available for sale, visit my Etsy shop in the “Daily Sketches” section.

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.


Preparing the Studio

cat drinking water

Jelly Bean takes his turn at my watercolor rinse water while Mr. Sunshine waits.

As part of the set up for a day of working in the studio, every cat in the room needs to interact with whatever it is I’ll be using. This is especially important when I watercolor—each needs to have a good long drink from my jar of rinse water before I even begin painting. Perhaps it’s that little residual cat spit in the water that gives my work a special quality.

Then all cats must walk on all surfaces and inspect all boxes and other containers. Below, Mewsette waits her turn at the water while Mr. Sunshine pauses in his drink. Mimi has finished her drink goes on to inspect my work table.

three black cats in studio

Where am I supposed to fit?

I’ve discovered it’s best if I just let them do as they please, then settle down. That’s not a bad policy in other areas of life either.

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Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.

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.


Thanks for the Kreativ Blogger Award!

Kreative Blogger Award

Thanks to Mark Wallis of The Vibes for honoring The Creative Cat with this award for “Wonderful paintings of animals and people complete with witty commentary.” I’m flattered! It’s really my cats who do the witty commentary, and, well, those paintings, sure, but if it weren’t for my felines I’d never win any awards. Lately he’s been using Instagram and his cool and colorful travels through music, art and society in Manchester, England, are real eye-candy and especially read about Sparky and other cats who have shared his life.

Okay, seven interesting facts about me…

1. Under my henna-red hair, which we discussed when I won the ABC Award, I am nearly 100% gray. Still shocks me when my roots start to come in, especially because the henna is just a little brighter than my natural chestnut color.

2. My college degree and advanced education is not in art as everyone seems to think—I have a BA in English “emphasizing creative and professional writing” (Edinboro State College didn’t have a major in writing). Later that degree helped me get a job when the person reading my resume assumed I was a good typist with all that writing I’d done (I was, 103 wpm) so I got my first job as a typesetter. Sometimes, that’s how it goes.

I’m running out of ideas already.

3. I am a Master Gardener and about 25 years ago nearly purchased a greenhouse business intending to make it into one of the first all-organic greenhouse and landscape operations in my area, starting all the plant seeds myself and using as many heirloom vegetables and plants as I could find.

4. I still garden in my back yard, and for nearly a decade I grew nearly everything I ate out of this little plot, with cold frames and raised beds, and canned and jellied and otherwise processed everything I could for winter. My yard grew shady as my neighbor’s trees grew (natural air conditioning) so it no longer produces enough and it’s still odd to go shopping for food.

Three more…

5. I work with environmental organizations to work on brochures, websites and other projects that need to be publicized according to grant requirements and also designing newsletters so I know all sorts of cool facts about how much rain water can be collected off your roof into a rain barrel and just how abandoned mine drainage is formed in old mine chambers.

6. I don’t have a television, and haven’t had one since 1993—cable became too expensive and I wasn’t watching it anyway. I listen to the radio (public radio) and recorded books, and now I can find a lot of news on the internet. No sign of a TV coming back into the house.

7. I’ve been working on a computer since 1979, yes we had computers then, just not personal computers, and data entry was done on them at colleges, one of my many work-study jobs; I continued with computers through the 80s with my “unintended career” as a typesetter and then graphic designer, and I’ve owned a personal computer since 1993.

Now for the part I am always uncomfortable about in this award practice: name seven blogs who win the award. First, how could I limit it to seven? Second, how could I explain to the ones who are not on the list?

I’m going to take the chicken way out. See that list on the right? It’s pretty well up to date. Choose any one there and visit them!


Her first kitten…

orange kitten

Orange Kitten

A 13-year-old girl who loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian is going to adopt her first companion animal, a kitten—or kittens, if she has her way. How many of us got our start with companion animals just like that, pre-teens or young teenagers who loved animals and wanted to be veterinarians, and our parents appeased us by adopting a shelter animal?

And are you one of the many who was given a kitten or a puppy as a gift in childhood? If you’re anything like me, that animal made all animals a permanent part of your life.

I rarely travel, and one of the things I look forward to is meeting new people and seeing new things all the way, on this trip from the time I left the house in the pre-dawn darkness to catch the train until the time I arrived back home late at night four days later to greet my startled cats who were apparently looking for me the entire time.

On my way back  I overheard a conversation between one of two young girls seated behind me and an older woman across the aisle from them. It was just part of the buzz around me as we all settled in until I heard the word “kitten” my ears pricked up and swiveled around as much as a human’s can do.

Lucy With Rug 1

Lucy with Rug 1

In a minute or two I confirmed that a kitten adoption was planned over the coming week. Much as I like to meet new people and converse among the seats, I also prefer to give people their privacy when they are in a conversation amongst themselves, but I couldn’t resist.

I slid toward the end of the seat next to me, leaned back a little and caught the eye of the woman who was apparently the mother who had planned this. She smiled at me so I felt it safe to enter the conversation.

“Is someone adopting a kitten?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Mom, “my daughter loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian, and I’m moving to a place where we can have a cat for her. She’s never had a pet, and she’s so excited!”

Lucy With Rug 2

Lucy With Rug 2

13-year-old girls are way too cool to show excitement. When I looked around my seat to the one behind me, she glanced up from her computer game, just moved her eyelids and nothing else, and nodded. I smiled.

“I probably wouldn’t interrupt your conversation, but…” I briefly described my credentials as a cat lady, making myself out to be a professional on the subject of cats instead of just the crazy cat lady who was crocheting a hat in the seat ahead of them, which was also true.

Mom was glad to have someone to ask questions. I was glad to share the enthusiasm I always had for discussing cats and the information I’d learned over the past 40 years of living with cats. Teenage daughter played her computer game but listened, I could tell.

I asked for the details of how they were adopting and when, how old the kitten was, if they had things ready and what their daily schedule was like to see what information I could offer them, and answering Mom’s questions.

Lucy With Rug 3

Lucy With Rug 3

As it turned out, the kitten was one of a litter taken in to a shelter in Harrisburg. They had visited the shelter weeks ago and met this kitten and others and decided on this one and possibly a sibling, but had to wait until they had most of their vaccinations and been spayed or neutered. The kitten would be eight to ten weeks at going home, just at the beginning of that growth spurt and ready to raise ruckus as young kittens are programmed to do.

I told them that kittens at that age had a lot of energy and no common sense, and so they had to plan for the kitten to be very playful, but also likely to get into trouble without intending by climbing into or onto places that might be dangerous, scratching things it shouldn’t, and even playing rough with the humans.

kittens wrestling on the floor

Two of the Fantastic Four wrestling.

And, since the kitten would be home alone all day and even overnight later I told them that two kittens would be a better idea since the kittens would keep each other company during the day, beating each other up instead of getting into trouble while alone.

“Kittens are often misinterpreted as being ‘bad’ and sent back to the shelter because people don’t understand that during those weeks of development from toddler to teenager in human terms, they have to play hard to build muscles and coordination, to explore to develop their senses,” I said, or some variation on that. Kittens develop very quickly, and by sixteen weeks can be completely independent and even sexually mature—all this learning has to happen before that, even if they’ll never use it to kill live prey, defend themselves or mate or give birth.

A good bit of discipline, then, depends on understanding what the kittens are doing, and if necessary redirecting the energy into something more appropriate. I could imagine two little kittens ripping through the house they were describing.

“Little, little kittens can climb into places where you might not even fit your hand,” I said, “and even bigger kittens can get themselves into a mess, so check for everything they can get in to, because they will. And don’t be afraid to confine them to one room for portions of the day for their own safety, while you are away or while you are eating or cooking,” I continued.

Mewsette on Scratcher

Sunshine on Scratcher

Thinking of the teenager who I knew was listening and might be one of the few to actually go on and graduate as a veterinarian, I explained that all cats scratch things because they leave their scent from scent glands in their paws, they groom their claws, removing old layers of cuticle, and they stretch full-length and exercise their muscles. Just figure they’re going to scratch things, give them things to scratch that they like, put them where they’ll use them and usually they’ll just gravitate to what you’ve provided because it’s so convenient and not bother with anything else.

“I’ve used a lot of the cardboard scratchers that just sit around on the floor because the cats and kittens can step right up onto them and they immediately start to scratch when they feel that rough texture beneath their paws,” I said, adding that having at least one in every room is probably what saved my furniture along with a regular carpeted scratching post and a cat tree I’d gathered over the years. “They like rough surfaces—think tree bark,” I added.

black kitten with catnip toy

Giuseppe meets catnip.

“Remember that they think you are big cats, too, and they are going to try to play with you as if you really are just another cat,” I continued. “Don’t fall for it. Touching them is for affection, not wrestling. Never play with them directly with your hand or they’ll think your hand is one of their toys. If they want to wrestle, grab a plush toy and let them tackle that. Teach the little boys (her two young sons) to drag the sturdy string toys around for the kittens to chase, it’ll be a lot more fun for the boys anyway.”

Make sure the litter box is convenient, on the same floor and only one or two rooms away at any given time. Once kittens are litter trained it’s usually permanent, but if they have to go and can’t find the box quickly, they’ll find the next best thing, usually a spot that’s inconvenient to you.

Make sure food and water are always available, too. Kittens need a high-protein diet because of their rate of growth, and unless they are somehow ill they will eat and drink as much as they need to as long as it’s available. But keep the litterbox and the food bowl in separate rooms, if possible, or at least far enough away that the two won’t mix.

I know I offered many more little points in the guise of anecdotes and stories from my own and others’ experience, but finally it seemed as if they had all the information they could hold for one session. I asked the daughter if she had any ideas for names. She said she had lots of ideas but didn’t divulge any, meaning she probably thought I wouldn’t know who or what she was talking about, which was highly likely.

Fromage in Motion

Fromage in Motion

She and her friend got up and went to the dining car, and I had the opportunity to say to her mom what I had just been thinking, remembering about my own first kitten: “Just think of all the years of her life this cat will see, through her teenage years and high school, she might go off to college and leave the cat with you, but the cat will be there for her when she comes home to visit, or she may take it with her when she gets her own place. She could be into her 30s before she loses it. All those important years of her life shared with this one cat you are about to bring home….”

“Wow,” said her mother, “that’s right, cats live a long time and she could be married with her own children by that time.”

Her daughter returned and she pointed this out to her, to little response, but again the glance and the nod. She had to be cool in front of her friend.

Mom had to take a call from her office, even though it was Sunday and we were on the train, and there the conversation ended until they left the train halfway to my destination, when we said goodbye and good luck.

a photo of Bootsie, the gray and white cat I had growing up

My first cat, Bootsie photo © B.E. Kazmarski

I was left thinking about all the years I’d spent with cats, from Bootsie, my first cat, to those who are with me now, I’ve measured eras in cat lives. I enjoyed the thought of a responsible adult and a caring young woman adopting a shelter kitten, and hoped it brought many happy endings for the people and for those cats, and for other animals each of those children would encounter or adopt later in life, and even for other people, as we know that children learn important interpersonal lessons from animals.

And what a joy for the opportunity to share the knowledge I’d both observed and intentionally learned over the years, gleaned from both the happy and the sad events and memories. Isn’t that what I do every day through my writing and art so I can do my part to make life better for cats and all animals and the people who love them, and give people images and a voice to describe how they feel about their animal companions?

But for now, I’ll still think of the household with one or two new kittens, whichever they decided, and picture the girl with her tabby and the little boys running around with strings for the kittens to chase. It’s a very happy thought.

I’ll soon be telling the story of the orange kitten at the top of this article—another magical rescue story. All the other photos are of Lucy, Fromage and the Fantastic Four and other kittens you may have seen in my articles, but I hadn’t realized such a trend in black kittens in my house in the past several years. I’ll have to dig out those prints on film from earlier litters!

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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.


Manipulative

black cat on green sink

Manipulative.

Admit it. You’d give him anything.

I admit he is very hard to resist. Way back when I had decided I could not possibly keep all these kittens I had decided to keep perhaps two, and tried to choose so that I would not become too attached to them all. I loved little Jelly Bean, or Little Guy as I called him then, but I had to consider giving him up. He knew what I was thinking, raced me up the stairs, hopped into the bathroom sink and flopped down and purred, batting his eyelashes at me.

“I don’t know who’s going or staying, but you’re not going anywhere, Little Guy.”

He is so completely manipulative that he is the one who got me to start turning on the faucet for them every day to drink. I have never, ever allowed my cats to drink from any faucet because I was concerned they wouldn’t get enough water since I had no intention of leaving faucets on all day. I admit that everything in the bathroom leaked when they were growing up in there so they thought water was supposed to be that way, but especially after the seniors I have had bowls all over the house.

But this Little Guy charmed me with a look like this and I simply turned on the faucet. What would you do if he sat on the sink and looked at you like that?

For greater effect, here is a moderate enlargement of his face; unfortunately the photos a little blurry. See how you do looking into those green eyes. If the look alone doesn’t work, he talks very softly, and I am under his spell.

black cat closeup

Even more manipulative.

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Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.

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.


Giuseppe Prefers a Sun Roof

two black cats in a cube

Giuseppe looks out the sun roof.

The red cat cube has added excitement to everyday life. Here, the cube has been turned on one of its sides and Giuseppe, sitting tall, looks out the sun roof while Mimi enjoys the side door.

I’m not sure how long this thing can hold up. The wires that hold it in shape are already bent up even though I straighten them out regularly and I see some tears in the fabric here and there. They use it for cuddling, for solo sleeping and for ambushing. Yesterday, the cube made it into the kitchen as various cats used it for various purposes and dragged and pushed and rolled inside it. Sometimes I hear fearsome yowling as the cube rocks and rolls, the sides bulging with feline hips and paws and heads, and all cat parts remain inside though it rolls over once or twice. Giuseppe spent part of the day sleeping in front of the door in the cube.

And, of course, it provides hours of entertainment for me.

Unfortunately, the cube only lasted about three weeks—here it’s nearly at the end of its run.

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Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.

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 With Cats: A Clever Pillow, or Two

swatch from fabric

Detail of fabric, "Cats on Vacation" by Andover Fabrics.

Where do you suppose these two are going? Totally distracted during a conversation, I had to know what this fabric was all about.

I stopped in at Distinctively Different Decor & More yesterday to discuss business and fun with Bonita. As she was pulling swatches of fabrics and beaded trims for her current decorating and upholstery projects in her workroom, I really was distracted by this swatch laying quietly on the other end of her large worktable.

    "Cats on Vacation" by Andover Fabrics.

"Cats on Vacation" by Andover Fabrics.

Partly the combination of bright colors and partly the intriguing arrangement of the figures, the overall look reminded me of one of those colorful cotton tablecloths from the late 1940s printed with fruits and figures and things which I collect, but I also saw cats on it and had to know what Bonita intended to do with it.

tiger stripe envelope pillow

One of Bonita's envelope pillows with lots of trim binding and fringe.

Apparently, it will become two of her large stuffed sofa or floor pillows to add to the collection in her shop, The Studio, where she features gift items of her own creation plus those of other artisans, including me.

Aside from her other talents in textile design, sewing and upholstering, Bonita is the queen of pillows. And while she uses florals and textures and colors to create both simple and highly decorated styles, I always notice the animal prints, especially the stripes and spots as in this envelope pillow made of densely woven fabric that is dimensionally textured along the stripes, with coordinating satin binding around the sides and dense short fringe on the “flap”.

set of pawprint pillows

Pawprint floor pillows.

This flap closes with a wooden button that actually works as all of her pillows are made for use by people with pets and the covers are removable for washing. Bonita lives with six rescued cats of all stripes and colors.

This set of 18″ floor pillows in sturdy pawprint fleece is a little simpler, just a big stuffed square with a zipper closure on one edge, but all pillows are stuffed with an inner pillow that holds the filling so you don’t have the batting popping out when you open it to wash the cover.

decorated lamp

The animal-print lamp.

Detail of lampshade.

Detail of lampshade.

Animal prints aren’t reserved for only pillows as I’ve seen tablecloths and upholstered items come and go, and Bonita was also very pleased to present a project she’d recently finished that was in the planning stages for at least three years, a lamp that she’d custom painted to match the colors in the—yes, leopard print—fabric she used on the shade. For extra interest, this fabric also has a slightly “furry” texture that I couldn’t resist touching. She can’t resist the addition of satin binding here either as it softens the inner angles of the lamp base where the fluted curves meet.

In her support of rescued cats, Bonita also donates things she makes to shelter events, and always has a basket for pet food donations in her shop. It seems many of her customers are pet lovers as well!

donation basket for pet food

Donation basket for pet food.

You can visit Bonita’s website at Distinctively Different Decor & More.

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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.


Apartment Maintenance Personnel Inhumanely Trap and Dump Feral Cats

Please take the time to make a phone call on behalf of homeless cats to help stop a continuing situation near Pittsburgh.

Michelle Miller, Executive Adminstrator at the Homeless Cat Management Team in Pittsburgh, alerted the Pittsburgh Feral Cat Movement group on Facebook that a maintenance person or caretaker at a North Hills apartment building had been bragging about trapping raccoons and cats and dumping them “across the river”. A visit from a humane agent brought excuses from the manager that this was a “bad joke” and no such thing was happening.

Michelle continued pressing the issue with the building manager and the owners and along with Vicki Stringfellow Cook of Pittsburgh Animal Rescue Examiner corresponded with the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society where the cats were purported to be taken. No cats had arrived there at the hands of these people, yet cats were trapped and removed.

Homeless Cat offered the management and the building owner to set up a TNR program for them at no cost to or effort by the management, they briefly considered but decided instead to continue trapping cats and taking them to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. The WPHS will not euthanize any cat that is ear-tipped and does not have a policy of euthanizing feral cats upon arrival, but kittens are already beginning to arrive at the shelter and decisions must be made for all the cats.

Not in any conversation did anyone from the apartment management or real estate agency indicate the cats were a problem in any way or give any reason for them to be removed.

Michelle writes, “Cascades Apartments are located in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, PA, at 100 East West Drive, 412.301.3346. Maintenance personnel have irresponsibly and inhumanely trapped 9 cats and ‘dumped’ them in various locations around in Allegheny County.

“PRG Real Estate owns and operates The Cascades. Sadly, after a humane investigation, it was determined we had not enough hard proof for a case. PRG has now in retaliation instructed the Cascades personnel to trap the remaining cats on the property and surrender them to the Western PA Humane Society. The cats are not ‘adoptable’ and will be certainly euthanized. We need YOU to be the voice for the voiceless!

“There are approximately 6-8 cats left they are trying to trap and kill. We want to save their lives. HCMT has offered to do a T/N/R project for FREE. Instead, PRG wants them removed and killed! TNR is an effective and humane solution to the problem at the Cascades created by a former resident. Why should the Cascades dump their problem on the local animal shelter and cost TAXpayers money!

“BE RESPONSIBLE PRG!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Please call PRG Real Estate and tell them how cruel and unncessary this is, and that you are United for a Humane Cascades Complex! Thank you!

“PRG Philly Office 215-744-1200

“PRG Columbus Office 614-885-5482 (Amy Cain is the Regional Property Mgr who gave the “official” statement that they have authorized the removal of the cats from their HOME)

“PLEASE CALL….AND SHARE THIS CAUSE…HELP SAVE INNOCENT LIVES! “

Unfortunately this type of “removal” quietly happens in cases like this all the time, where individuals decide to trap cats who have made a home where a human thinks they don’t belong. We know there are better solutions than inhumanely trapping and removing them, but we can’t force anyone into that decision.

But we can call them on it, literally, and point out to others what they are doing so that in the light of public opinion they are exposed.

For more information, also read this article on the Pittsburgh Animal Rescue Examiner.

Please call, and let them know this is wrong!


Sophie in Evening Contemplation

black and white cat with curtain

Sophie in Evening Contemplation.

Just a nice photo of Sophie from long ago which I desaturated and applied a diffuse glow filter and a violet photo filter. Sophie knew just what to do with a lace curtain.

And now the purple dusk of twilight time steals across the meadows of my heart…

From “Stardust”, Hoagy Carmichael, Mithcell Parish.

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Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.

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.