How Peaches Stole My Heart

two calico cats at a window

Peaches and Cream at their first home

I’ve mentioned Peaches frequently, the little kitty who arrived at age 15 and lived to be 20, and who had a profound effect on my household and on my portfolio of sketches, paintings and photos, including a favorite, Peaches and Peonies. It’s just two years ago that Peaches was diagnosed with chronic renal failure and I began writing about her condition. Readers still discover those articles and find them helpful when their cats have been diagnosed and are being treated for the condition, often largely receiving fluid therapy at home. I’m going to repost those articles from two years ago as they come up.

Here is the first, an introduction to Rosebud and Angel, who became Peaches and Cream, and above is the very first photo I saw of them, the one given to me by the person caring for them as described below to convince me I needed to help rescue them. Who could resist? And, yes, it is on my list of images that I love; read more at the bottom.

I saw a friend and animal lover catch sight of me from across the room, give a big wave and make a beeline for me, weaving through the crowd at the gathering we were both attending while digging in her purse.

“I know of two cats who desperately need a home,” Betsy said before she even reached me, waving a photo. “They’re going to be put to sleep if someone doesn’t take them!”

Now, among those of us who are known for rescuing cats and dogs and other things, how many times have we heard that?

I will always listen to the story, though. This woman was, first, an animal lover but not a cat person and not one of those constantly sending communiqués about cats about to be euthanized, and was also, though retired, a former architect and respected board member and support of various organizations I also supported, and not the type to make idle threats. I decided whatever story she had to tell was probably completely accurate down to the last fact, and there was a reason in addition to the two homeless cats that she was desperate to find a home.

And then she showed me the photo, above, which is lovely in its own right, but I also knew those two gorgeous calico cats were looking at someone they loved very much and waited to hear more.

Left behind when an owner died, a common story

As it turned out, her good friend and neighbor had died, leaving behind her two 15-year-old cats with no instructions for care. Betsy was distraught at losing her friend and neighbor of many years. Because the woman had no family in town, only a son in Chicago who could only stop by infrequently, she had undertaken to clean out the woman’s house and care for her cats as a last act of friendship and respect for the things her friend had loved so much. She had dogs and couldn’t take the cats but was in the house frequently enough to be able to feed and water and look after them until she could figure out what to do.

two calico cats on chair in sun

The other photo Betsy showed me of Peaches and Cream.

She and the son had initially discussed a few options, and he had decided to take them to their veterinarian to see what he thought and to likely have them put to sleep. He couldn’t take them and the last thing he wanted to wanted to do with his mother’s beloved cats was to take them to a shelter and drop them off, knowing what is usually the fate of old cats in a shelter.

Apparently the veterinarian told him they were healthy and friendly and advised him, if they had someone to care for them in place, to just hold onto them until they needed to leave the house. A little more time wouldn’t hurt.

So back they went, and for about two months Betsy kept an eye on them while she visited the house daily and cleaned and sorted and organized things for the estate sale and realtor visits. When the house was up for sale, the realtor advised to remove the cats, and that’s when Betsy magically saw me, knowing she could appeal to me.

I already had four senior cats

At that time I had seven cats, including four in their teens, Stanley over 20 and in chronic renal failure, and I was determined not to add to the household knowing somehow the senior health issues would be mounting. I loved each of these cats intensely, and I really wasn’t interested in taking in two 15-year-old cats, no matter how nice they were.

Sometimes I can steel myself against the knowledge that a cat who needs a home may not meet a good end if someone doesn’t help it along somehow with a temporary home. Although I normally had about nine cats, with the extra care for senior cats seven was about my limit and that usually reinforced my decision to not take more cats into my home, when Betsy called and said they had to leave the house and were bound for a shelter, I knew she was serious…and something told me to give them a chance.

Back up to nine cats, my magic number.

But I had always had some luck placing cats, even adults, so I planned on fostering until I could find a home.

two cats on steps

Peaches and Cream with a friend

Their own little marketing campaign

My little June kitties came in with different names; Peaches was “Rosebud” and Cream was “Angel”. Cream was mostly white with a few clear black or orange spots, one resembling the AC Delco logo on her shoulder blades, interchangeable orange ears and a detachable black tail—this last a reference I always made to cats whose extremities were colored as if intentionally setting them off. Peaches was petite and looked as if someone had laid large sections of peach and gray fur across her the top of her as her chest, belly and legs were all creamy white.

I know Betsy would have been diligent in feeding and providing water, but possibly they didn’t care for the food and water provided in the self-feeding and self-watering containers because they were both a little dehydrated and had a few bowel issues when they arrived. I was already dosing Stanley with sub-Q fluids and watching for other symptoms of renal failure, so I just added them to the list. Peaches responded right away, brightening up, but Creamy needed fluids every few weeks and then more often and always seemed to be a little tired no matter what I did for her.

Well, I’ve been in advertising and marketing long enough to know that I needed a really catchy name to get attention for two 15-year-olds who should be kept together, and “Peaches and Cream” came to mind and stayed there.

cat with little girl

Now there's a portrait! Cream with my great-niece Cassidy.

Both were nice cats, very friendly and social and actually mingling pretty well with my household, though Creamy decided right away she owned me and chased everyone away, which didn’t do well when I had to keep an eye on my two oldest, Stanley and Moses. So Peaches and Cream had the run of the house during the day, but stayed in the spare cat room overnight.

Cream was so friendly that I began taking her to the personal care home where my mother lived to visit the ladies there who had lost their kitties when they entered personal care. I would visit my mother in the evening, and Cream would wander around the living room, choosing one woman and then another to rub her face against and curl upon and purr.

I also had a little retail space at the time and had an open house so people could meet them, and I wrote about them on my website (no blog yet) and contacted everyone I knew who might possibly be interested in the two, or even one of them.

The biggest objection

The biggest objection to adoption of either one or both was, very simplified, “they are old, they’ll die soon, and that will hurt.”

I could hardly argue with that. We can never know how long they’ll be with us, and it hurts no matter. That didn’t change the fact that, for however long they were alive, they needed a home, and perhaps one where they’d get more attention than in mine.

two calico cats in a box

Not the best photo, but a favorite

And we did lose Creamy the following March to kidney failure. She was trying to hold on, even to the point where her skin would leak from previous treatments when I gave her a dose of fluids; she was holding on for her person who I’m sure she always thought would come back. I remember her looking at me with determination in those last few days, knowing she had no intention of giving me the sign she was ready to go, and having a very hard time balancing between my logical understanding of a cat who had reduced from ten pounds to four, who was not eating or drinking and was in fact subsisting on subcutaneous fluids and hope, and her clear desire to maintain.

Oddly enough it was trying to decide what to do with her remains after she died, knowing she wouldn’t be happy in my yard with the cremains of my others, that helped me and her make the decision. Deb Chebatoris of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation suggested I find her person’s grave and scatter her ashes there. I was immediately put at ease with the thought, told it to Creamy and she did accept, relaxing and letting go over the next few hours, and I had her put to sleep the next day.

I had lost my 19-year-old Moses just a month before; Creamy was the second older cat of the four I lost in the space of one year. In addition, the August after they arrived, Namir went into congestive heart failure for the first time and she will always be a part of the beginning of these events, inextricably interwoven into my household.

catphoto-peaches

Peaches, Feline Photographer

Peaches goes on

Peaches, on the other hand, seemed to find a new youth, and five years later still  looked like a young cat, her 5.5 pound figure unchanged, her clearly patched peach and gray and white fur soft and shiny, green eyes clear and round, and very little unsteadiness to her gait. When people came to visit she was one of the favorites with her petite good looks, quiet friendly face rub and round-eyed welcoming  expression, and her curiosity never ceased to surprise me when she went exploring a bag or a box or the newly-renovated bathroom.

In retrospect, it’s hard to believe Peaches was only with me for five years, and came to me at age 15—it seems as if she was always been with me. I had the feeling that Cream, much bigger and bolder, had always dominated tiny submissive Peaches from what Betsy had told me and from what I saw.

One morning I opened the door to the spare cat room and Peaches purposefully walked out as if she’d been waiting. I intuitively closed the door behind her. Peaches looked around the landing and into the two other rooms, then looked directly up at me and I could tell that was the moment she accepted the loss of her other person, decided she was staying here and accepted me as her new person, even though it meant leaving Cream behind.

We packed a lifetime into those years, beginning on that day as a senior foster when she decided to start a new life and became, from what I hear, a completely different kitty from the timid and elusive kitty she had been.

tortoiseshell cat bathing calico cat

Kelly gives Peaches a sisterly bath on the butterfly rug.

My household changed over constantly from the moment she arrived, and she went along with all of it, letting others have the attention when they needed it. She didn’t let four boisterous kittens bother her, and in fact they loved their older sister very much. She found them very useful in the winter when she could snuggle in among them.

While she was friendly with every cat she encountered, she found a sweet friend in Kelly who absolutely adored her; Kelly had grown up the youngest and has always seemed most comfortable with older cats, and took to Peaches right away.

Not only did she settle firmly in the household, but she also settled firmly on the internet! She corresponded with others through our blog and on Facebook, and she even applied for a job as an office assistant finding a best friend, Eva, and regularly corresponded with her!

And it never even occurred to her I might not love her to pieces, which I do. Her little silent meows, hopeful looks, prompts for dinner and slight weight sleeping on me when I awaken all became a part of my life. I guess it’s really not hard to fit another cat into the household or into your heart; you’d think I already knew this.

pastel painting of a cat on a table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Where would my portfolio be without her?

I’ve always painted and photographed my cats, but nearly as soon as Peaches entered my house she became one of my most regular subjects. Perhaps because I’d been working with the others for so long and she was new and very different from all the others, but she continued to be one of my favorite subjects, and still is.

I painted “Peaches and Peonies” in 2008 from photos I’d taken in 2007. Some cats have to wait a lifetime before their portrait gets done, and I still have a few waiting!

Too bad for those who wouldn’t adopt her

So even though Peaches has gone into memory, I still celebrate her every day. I’m glad she ended up staying with me for all she gave to me and all I could give to her. Anyone who chose not to adopt her lost out on a great kitty with just a few little issues.

Don’t let fear of loss stop you from adopting

photo of calico cat on wooden floor

Precious Peaches

But I hope this is a lesson for anyone uncertain about adopting an older or senior cat. Even though they don’t have a full lifetime with you, you never really know how long a lifetime will be. Right after I lost my fourth senior cat in that awful year, my Stanley at about 25, I lost a kitten I’d adopted, my Lucy, to FIP at 15 months.

Still, in Lucy’s 15 months, and Stanley’s 25 years and Peaches’ five with me, we’d shared enough to last a lifetime. The moment you love, it’s forever.

Calico and tortoiseshell cats seem to be the beauty queens (99% of the time, anyway) of the feline image world. I always say it’s because the human eye loves pattern and color, and these cats certainly deliver! The first photo of Peaches and Cream in the window has long been an image I’ve wanted to work with, but I have so many ideas and I’ve been undecided in what seemed best. I don’t want to over use it in whatever I choose, a greeting card or painting or decorative item. It also works equally well as a photo as it would as a painting, and often that is my deciding point in creating a painting—much as I love to paint, if it’s a good photo and I can’t add anything to it by creating a painting I’ll stay with it. Still, my fingers itch to study and render their faces and spots as well as the delicate shadings on the window frame and the reflections of the trees in the glass. So I remain undecided!

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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.


Great Rescues Book Signing at FosterCat Spaghetti Dinner

great rescues calendar and gift book

Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book

Join me for a book signing for Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book at the FosterCat annual spaghetti dinner on September 10! I’ll be there with my special pen to inscribe a dedication to your favorite rescue kitty—or kitties, no matter how many.

It’s also time to think about “back-to-school” gifts, and not to early to think of holiday gifts for the end of the year. I’ll donate 10% of all my sales that day to FosterCat, so you can increase your donation if you attend the dinner and buy a book!

I’ll be donating a few things to the Chinese auction—one copy of Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book which I’ll be happy to inscribe for the winner, a framed print of one of Peaches and Peonies, and perhaps set of crocheted pawprints or a basket of notecards as well.

The Carnegie Arts & Heritage Festival is that weekend, but I will be at the dinner for the signing and with merchandise for sale.

I hope to see you there!

FosterCat Spaghetti Dinner

Click this image, print it out and post it!

The dinner is on Saturday, September 10, 2011  from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Wallace Memorial Presbyterian Church in Green Tree.

The menu includes spaghetti with a choice of either meat or meatless sauce, salad, rolls, beverage and dessert. Takeout orders will be available.

Helping to raise more funds in addition to the meal prices, Chinese auction items including restaurant and other gift certificates donated by local businesses will be on display, and you can also buy tickets for the 50/50 raffle. Cat toys and other items will be offered for sale at the event.

Tickets are $9 for adults and $4 for children ages 12 and under.

Click the image of the flyer at left, print it out and post it wherever you think people may be interested in attending—vets’ offices, hair salons, your local church, local businesses and gyms in the area, groomers and at your own place of business.

fostercat logo

FosterCat, Inc.

If you can’t attend but still want to help FosterCat and its network of 25 foster homes, you can always make a donation at their website, www.fostercat.org. Even if you don’t live near Pittsburgh, consider making a donation to this organization that both removes cats in peril from shelters and keeps them out of shelters in the first place, giving them a loving and comfortable foster home until a permanent home can be found.

FosterCat, Inc. is an all-volunteer 501c (3) organization formed in 1999 to provide for the temporary care and also permanent placement of homeless kittens and cats.  Through its network of 25 foster homes, FosterCat has fostered and placed over 1,050 kittens and cats for permanent adoption. There is no paid staff but everyone volunteers their professional talents as well as foster talents, and the only expense outside of direct care for cats is the cost of advertising the organization for potential homes and for foster homes.

pastel painting of a cat on a table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

They were the recipient of the online auction of the print of “Peaches and Peonies” in honor of Peaches’ 100th birthday, and I regularly feature cats they have in foster in June for Adopt-a-Cat Month.

Wallace Memorial Presbyterian Church is located at 1000 Green Tree Road, Pittsburgh.

For tickets, visit www.fostercat.org to purchase on line or call Carolyn Kozlowski at 412-531-4776.


FosterCat Annual Spaghetti Dinner

fostercat logo

FosterCat, Inc.

Join the board, volunteers, foster families and friends of FosterCat on Saturday, September 10, 2011  from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Wallace Memorial Presbyterian Church in Green Tree.

The menu includes spaghetti with a choice of either meat or meatless sauce, salad, rolls, beverage and dessert. Takeout orders will be available.

Helping to raise more funds in addition to the meal prices, Chinese auction items including restaurant and other gift certificates donated by local businesses will be on display, and you can also buy tickets for the 50/50 raffle. Cat toys and other items will be offered for sale at the event.

Tickets are $9 for adults and $4 for children ages 12 and under.

I’ll be donating a few things—on copy of Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book a framed print of one of Peaches and Peonies, and perhaps set of crocheted pawprints or a basket of notecards as well.

The Carnegie Arts & Heritage Festival is that weekend, but I will be at the dinner for a while with merchandise for sale.

If you can’t attend but still want to help FosterCat and its network of 25 foster homes, you can always make a donation at their website, www.fostercat.org. Even if you don’t live near Pittsburgh, consider making a donation to this organization that both removes cats in peril from shelters and keeps them out of shelters in the first place, giving them a loving and comfortable foster home until a permanent home can be found.

FosterCat, Inc. is an all-volunteer 501c (3) organization formed in 1999 to provide for the temporary care and also permanent placement of homeless kittens and cats.  Through its network of 25 foster homes, FosterCat has fostered and placed over 1,050 kittens and cats for permanent adoption. There is no paid staff but everyone volunteers their professional talents as well as foster talents, and the only expense outside of direct care for cats is the cost of advertising the organization for potential homes and for foster homes.

pastel painting of a cat on a table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

They were the recipient of the online auction of the print of “Peaches and Peonies” in honor of Peaches’ 100th birthday, and I regularly feature cats they have in foster in June for Adopt-a-Cat Month.

Wallace Memorial Presbyterian Church is located at 1000 Green Tree Road, Pittsburgh.

For tickets, visit www.fostercat.org to purchase on line or call Carolyn Kozlowski at 412-531-4776.


FosterCat Annual Spaghetti Dinner

FosterCat spaghetti dinner flyer

FosterCat Annual Spaghetti Dinner Flyer

It’s time for the big FosterCat fundraiser—the annual Spaghetti Dinner!

Join the board, volunteers, foster families and friends of FosterCat on Saturday, September 11, 2010, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Wallace Memorial Presbyterian Church in Green Tree.

I’ll be at the Carnegie Arts & Heritage Festival that day, but I’ll be donating a few things—always a framed print of one of my cat paintings, and I’ll add a set of crocheted pawprints as well.

The menu includes spaghetti with a choice of either meat or meatless sauce, salad, rolls, beverage and dessert. Takeout orders will be available.

Tickets are $9 for adults and $4 for children ages 12 and under.

Helping to raise more funds in addition to the meal prices, Chinese auction items including restaurant and other gift certificates donated by local businesses will be on display, and you can also buy tickets for the 50/50 raffle. Cat toys and other items will be offered for sale at the event.

fostercat logo

FosterCat Inc.

If you can’t attend but still want to help FosterCat and its network of 25 foster homes, you can always make a donation at their website, www.fostercat.org. Even if you don’t live near Pittsburgh, consider making a donation to this organization that both removes cats in peril from shelters and keeps them out of shelters in the first place, giving them a loving and comfortable foster home until a permanent home can be found.

FosterCat, Inc. is an all-volunteer 501c (3) organization formed in 1999 to provide for the temporary care and also permanent placement of homeless kittens and cats.  Through its network of 25 foster homes, FosterCat has fostered and placed over 1,020 kittens and cats for permanent adoption. There is no paid staff but everyone volunteers their professional talents as well as foster talents, and the only expense outside of direct care for cats is the cost of advertising the organization for potential homes and for foster homes.

pastel painting of a cat on a table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

They were the recipient of the online auction of the print of “Peaches and Peonies” in honor of Peaches’ 100th birthday, and I also featured several of the cats they had in foster in June for Adopt-a-Cat Month.

Wallace Memorial Presbyterian Church is located at 1000 Green Tree Road, Pittsburgh.

For tickets, visit www.fostercat.org to purchase on line or call Carolyn Kozlowski at 412-531-4776.


It’s Peaches’ 100th Birthday!

peaches' birthday photo

Peaches wears her green hat for her 100th birthday!

The big day is finally here!

And did I ever think I’d make it this long? Honestly, I never really thought about it! I can tell you from experience that we animals never really worry about these things as humans do, but that we are glad for every day we are here.

Especially when we’ve got wonderful parents like my mom, and a world full of friends, near and far away!

photo of cat in box

I've got a big box ready for all my gifts!

Thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes and the get well wishes as my mom and I continue to work with my kidney failure (and what a birthday gift I’ll get later today—another 100cc of fluids), and I hope we’ve given many other cats and their people the idea that living to 100 is not only entirely possible but not all that uncommon anymore. Little health issues may be troublesome as the years go on, but we’ve provided information on those so you know what to expect.

And the point I find most important is that older pets need homes too, so don’t be afraid to adopt us just because we’re old! My mom took me in at age 15, and I’m still going strong at 20, and my brother Stanley in this house lived to be about 25! With animal health care getting better all the time and all the information available to pet parents these days, any one of us could live a long and healthy life.

Now, mom, bring on the salmon pate!

There’s still time to bid on the print!

Bidding on the print of “Peaches and Peonies” is open until midnight tonight, May 1! Whoever has the highest bid by that time wins the print with all proceeds going directly to FosterCat, so you get to make a tax-deductible donation to a worthy feline rescue organization AND you get a piece of artwork as a thank you! Click here to read the article and bid.

Other articles celebrating Peaches’ 100th Birthday

Bid on this Print and Start Celebration Peaches’ 100th Birthday

How Peaches Stole My Heart

Old is Awesome!

Loving Care for Your Senior Cat, Part 1

Beyond Food and Water, Loving Care for Your Senior Cat, part 2

My Feline Garden Sprites

Eva Offers a Donation in Honor of Peaches’ 100th

A Poem Dedicated to an Old Cat

Help FosterCat Even More Through My Three Cats

Cookie Reminisces

On The Conscious Cat

How to Care for Your Older Cat

On Catnip Chronicles

Peaches and Peonies

Donate to FosterCat Through Other Blogs and Websites

Eva Offers a Donation in Honor of Peaches’ 100th

Help FosterCat Even More Through My Three Cats

Other articles about Peaches

Peaches Applies for a Job

Get Well Wishes for Peaches

Peaches Says, “Thanks for All the Get Well Wishes, They Worked”

This is a short list—Peaches appears in many articles I’ve written on my household, on pet loss, and even some silly things I’ve written on my website before I had a blog! Search “peaches” in the search box for more articles.


How Peaches Stole My Heart

I saw a friend and animal lover catch sight of me from across the room, give a big wave and make a beeline for me, weaving through the crowd at the gathering we were both attending.

“I know of two cats who desperately need a home,” Betsy said before she even reached me. “They’re going to be put to sleep if someone doesn’t take them!”

Now, among those of us who are known for rescuing cats and dogs and other things, how many times have we heard that?

I will always listen to the story, though. This woman was not one of those constantly threatening me with cats about to be euthanized, and not the type to make idle threats. I decided whatever story she had to tell was probably true.

Left behind when an owner died, a common story

two calico cats at a window

Peaches and Cream at their first home

As it turned out, her good friend and neighbor had died, leaving behind her two 15-year-old cats with no instructions for care. Betsy was distraught at losing her friend and neighbor of many years. Because the woman had no family in town, only a son in Chicago who could only stop by infrequently, she had undertaken to clean out the woman’s house and care for her cats as a last act of friendship and respect for the things her friend had loved so much. She had dogs and couldn’t take the cats but was in the house frequently enough to be able to feed and water and look after them until she could figure out what to do.

She and the son had initially discussed a few options, and he had decided to take them to their veterinarian to see what he thought and to likely have them put to sleep. He couldn’t take mother’s cats and who wanted to take two old cats to a shelter?

Apparently the veterinarian told him they were healthy and friendly and advised him, if they had someone to care for them in place, to just hold onto them until they needed to leave the house. A little more time wouldn’t hurt.

So back they went, and for about two months Betsy kept an eye on them while she visited the house daily and cleaned and sorted and organized things for the estate sale and realtor visits. When the house was up for sale, the realtor advised to remove the cats, and that’s when Betsy magically saw me, knowing she could appeal to me.

I already had four senior cats

At that time I had seven cats, including four in their teens, Stanley over 20 and in chronic renal failure, and I was determined not to add to the household knowing somehow the senior health issues would be mounting. I loved each of these cats intensely, and I really wasn’t interested in taking in two 15-year-old cats, no matter how nice they were.

Sometimes I can steel myself against the knowledge that a cat who needs a home may not meet a good end if someone doesn’t help it along somehow with a temporary home. Already being at my limit of cats and caring for that time reinforced that steel, but when Betsy called and said they had to leave the house and were bound for a shelter, I knew she was serious…and something told me to give them a chance.

Back up to nine cats, my magic number.

But I had always had some luck placing cats, even adults, so I planned on fostering until I could find a home.

Their own little marketing campaign

two cats on steps

Peaches and Cream with a friend

Peaches and Cream with a friend

My little June kitties came in with different names; Peaches was “Rosebud” and Cream was “Angel”. Cream was mostly white with a few clear black or orange spots, one resembling the AC Delco logo on her shoulder blades, interchangeable orange ears and a detachable black tail—this last a reference I always made to cats whose extremities were colored as if intentionally setting them off.

I know Betsy would have been diligent in feeding and providing water, but possibly they didn’t care for the food and water provided in the self-feeding and self-watering containers because they were both a little dehydrated and had a few bowel issues when they arrived. I was already dosing Stanley with sub-Q fluids and watching for other symptoms of renal failure, so I just added them to the list. Peaches responded right away, brightening up, but Creamy needed fluids every few weeks and then more often and always seemed to be a little tired no matter what I did for her.

Well, I’ve been in advertising and marketing long enough to know that I needed a really catchy name to get attention for two 15-year-olds who should be kept together, and “Peaches and Cream” came to mind and stayed there.

cat with little girl

Now there's a portrait!

Both were nice cats, very friendly and social and actually mingling pretty well with my household, though Creamy decided right away she owned me and chased everyone away, which didn’t do well when I had to keep an eye on my two oldest, Stanley and Moses. So Peaches and Cream had the run of the house during the day, but stayed in the spare cat room overnight.

Cream was so friendly that I began taking her to the personal care home where my mother lived to visit the ladies there who had lost their kitties when they entered personal care. I would visit my mother in the evening, and Cream would wander around the living room, choosing one woman and then another to rub her face against and curl upon and purr.

I also had a little retail space at the time and had an open house so people could meet them, and I wrote about them on my website (no blog yet) and contacted everyone I knew who might possibly be interested in the two, or even one of them.

The biggest objection

The biggest objection to adoption of either one or both was, very simplified, “they are old, they’ll die soon, and that will hurt.”

I could hardly argue with that. We can never know how long they’ll be with us, and it hurts no matter. That didn’t change the fact that, for however long they were alive, they needed a home, and perhaps one where they’d get more attention than in mine.

two calico cats in a box

Not the best photo, but a favorite

And we did lose Creamy the following March to kidney failure. She was trying to hold on, even to the point where her skin would leak from previous treatments when I gave her a dose of fluids; she was holding on for her person who I’m sure she always thought would come back. Feeling Creamy’s reluctance I had no idea what to do with her after she died, knowing she wouldn’t be happy in my yard with the cremains of my others. Deb Chebatoris of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation suggested I find her person’s grave and scatter her ashes there. (I still haven’t found where the grave is, but when I do I will follow through.)

I had lost my 19-year-old Moses just a month before; Creamy was the second older cat of the four I lost in the space of one year, and I will always connect her with the beginning of these events.

Peaches goes on

cat with camera

Peaches, feline photographer

Peaches, on the other hand, seemed to find a new youth, and five years later still looks like a young cat, her 5.5 pound figure unchanged, her clearly patched peach and gray and white fur soft and shiny, green eyes clear and round, and very little unsteadiness to her gait. When people come to visit she is one of the favorites with her petite good looks, quiet friendly face rub and round-eyed welcoming  expression, and her curiosity never ceases to surprise me when she goes exploring a bag or a box or the newly-renovated bathroom.

My household has changed over since she’s been here, and she went along with all of it, letting others have the attention when they needed it. She didn’t let four boisterous kittens bother her, and in fact they love their older sister very much. She finds them very useful in the winter when she can snuggle in among them and they give her a bath.

And not only has she settled firmly in the household, but she’s also settled firmly on the internet! She corresponds with others through our blog and on Facebook, and she even applied for a job as an office assistant finding a best friend, Eva, and regularly corresponding with her!

And it never even occurred to her I might not love her to pieces, which I do. Her little silent meows, hopeful looks, prompts for dinner and slight weight sleeping on me when I awaken have all become a part of my life. I guess it’s really not hard to fit another cat into the household or into your heart.

Where would my portfolio be without her?

pastel painting of a cat on a table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies, pastel © B.E. Kazmarsi

I’ve always painted and photographed my cats, but nearly as soon as Peaches entered my house she became one of my most regular subjects. Perhaps because I’d been working with the others for so long and she was new and very different from all the others, but she continues to be one of my favorite subjects.

I painted “Peaches and Peonies” in 2008 from photos I’d taken in 2007. Some cats have to wait a lifetime before their portrait gets done, and I still have a few waiting!

Too bad for those who wouldn’t adopt her

So as Peaches approaches this milestone, I still celebrate her every day. I’m glad she ended up staying with me for all she’s given me and all I could give to her. Anyone who chose not to adopt her lost out on a great kitty with just a few little issues!

Don’t let fear of loss stop you from adopting

photo of calico cat on wooden floor

Precious Peaches

But I hope this is a lesson for anyone uncertain about adopting an older or senior cat. Even though they don’t have a full lifetime with you, you never really know how long a lifetime will be. Right after I lost my fourth senior cat in that awful year, my Stanley at about 25, I lost a kitten I’d adopted, my Lucy, to FIP at 15 months. Still, in Lucy’s 15 months, and Stanley’s 25 years and Peaches’ five with me, we’d shared enough to last a lifetime. The moment you love, it’s forever.

Celebrating Peaches’ 100th Birthday, and bid on the painting

Please add your comments on your older cats, and please read about blog auction for a signed print of Peaches and Peonies. All proceeds from the highest bid go to FosterCat. I’ll also be featuring other articles on Peaches and other senior cats, and so will friends of mine and Peaches on their blogs. Stay tuned!

 


Bid on This Print and Start Celebrating Peaches’ 100th Birthday

pastel painting of a cat on a table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies, pastel © B.E. Kazmarsi

Bidding is closed on this print, but you can still purchase one on my website.

Peaches is 20 this year, and though it doesn’t really work out this way, she is nominally 100 years in human years. Now that’s reason for a celebration!

I’ve written about Peaches several times since I’ve been blogging (and even before that), probably more often than any other cat in my household. She came to me five years ago with her sister for me to foster after their owner died and they were almost euthanized because the woman’s son thought it would be cruel for them to spend their last days in a shelter. We lost Peaches’ sister Cream to renal failure about ten months after they arrived, but Peaches quietly integrated her little self into the household without incident and even increased her health while here.

I’ll be writing more about Peaches in the next two weeks leading up to May 1, the day we’ll be celebrating. In addition, other bloggers will be sharing stories and tips and poems and art around all of our blogs about living with and caring for older cats and other animals.

Let’s Get Started

I am offering to the highest bidder a signed 10″ x 16″ giclee* print of “Peaches and Peonies”, the proceeds of which auction will be donated to FosterCat.

How to Bid

  1. Bidding begins April 18, 2010 and continues through midnight on May 1, 2010.
  2. The opening bid is $25.00
  3. In the “comments” section of this blog, please enter your bid amount and any message you’d like to include. If by any chance you cannot enter a comment, please e-mail your bid to me and I will enter it into the comments section according to its time stamp so that all bids will remain in order; please only do this if there is no other way to enter your bid.
  4. At midnight on May 1, I will review the comments for the highest bid and inform the winner the next day via e-mail. For this reason, please use your own account to bid so I know who it’s from.
  5. The highest bid is the winner, not the final bid.
  6. Bids entered on other blog posts or on Facebook, Twitter or any other means except commenting to this post and direct e-mail to me are not valid; believe it or not, everyone is not on Facebook or Twitter or even other social networks, but everyone who can read this message can reach the internet and can send an e-mail, so that makes the bidding fair.
  7. The winner will make their payment directly to FosterCat. When FosterCat has received payment, I will ship the print to the winner.

About the Painting

pastel painting of cat on table with peonies

Peaches and Peonies

MEDIUM: Pastel; SIZE: 16″ x 23″; 2008, $1,500 (note that the print for auction is about half this size). There it is, that moment that turns on all the lights for me…one of my cats in the sun, the conditions that have inspired most of my portraits. Cats are creatures of habit, and Peaches chose this spot to have her after-dinner bath every day for a few weeks when the sun was right; I knew it was a keeper whether a photo or a painting, so I photographed it several times over a period of several days, knowing I’d use at least one photo or all the photos as reference to create one painted image. A painting this size and level of details is a significant investment of time, so I had to wait until my schedule allowed the night-after-night sessions with tiny sections of detail. You can also see it and read more about it on my website.

About the Print I’m Offering

I am offering a 10″ x 16″ print of this work rather than a full-size print because, first, not everyone has tons of wall space, and, second, framing would be less expensive—in fact, this print will fit into a pre-made 16″ x 20″ frame that includes a mat so you can save on custom framing.

About Giclee and Why It’s Valuable

Giclee printing uses special light-fast archival inks and is printed directly from a digital file, which is the most direct and accurate method of reproducing artwork. Prints can be made on many different papers—I use a matte-finish acid-free archival paper—and at just about any size, and when kept out of direct sunlight will keep their original color for at least 100 years. It’s decidedly a limited edition because I’m getting only one print at a time. This print is worth $75.00.

About FosterCat

fostercat logoFoster Cat, Inc. is an all-volunteer non-profit organization providing temporary foster homes for cats and kittens until they can be placed for adoption. The organization provides training and support, medications, food and litter as needed, and absorbs all veterinary expenses associated with the care of their kitties. They’ve rescued, fostered and found homes for many, many older and senior cats and I’d like to help them in their mission.

In Conclusion

Good luck! Peaches and I would like to know we can give FosterCat a pile of money to help them help other cats like Peaches.

Other articles celebrating Peaches’ 100th Birthday

Bid on this Print and Start Celebration Peaches’ 100th Birthday

How Peaches Stole My Heart

Old is Awesome!

Loving Care for Your Senior Cat, Part 1

Beyond Food and Water, Loving Care for Your Senior Cat, part 2

My Feline Garden Sprites

Eva Offers a Donation in Honor of Peaches’ 100th

A Poem Dedicated to an Old Cat

Help FosterCat Even More Through My Three Cats

Cookie Reminisces

On The Conscious Cat

How to Care for Your Older Cat

On Catnip Chronicles

Peaches and Peonies

Donate to FosterCat Through Other Blogs and Websites

Eva Offers a Donation in Honor of Peaches’ 100th

Help FosterCat Even More Through My Three Cats

Other articles about Peaches

Peaches Applies for a Job

Get Well Wishes for Peaches

Peaches Says, “Thanks for All the Get Well Wishes, They Worked”

This is a short list—Peaches appears in many articles I’ve written on my household, on pet loss, and even some silly things I’ve written on my website before I had a blog! Search “peaches” in the search box for more articles.


Senior Pet Adoption Donation Program

Peaches and Peonies, pastel, 2008

Peaches and Peonies, pastel, 2008

I pledge to support the senior adoption programs at shelters by making a donation of $25.00 from the sale of every full-size print to the shelter of the purchaser’s choice.

Peaches came to my home at age 15, and despite my efforts to place her in a new home, she ended up staying with me. Most prospective adopters were concerned that Peaches was older and might not live long, but my point was that Peaches needed a home no matter what age she was. At the time this painting was done, she’d been with me three years, her petite prettiness, pleasant personality and simple friendliness providing much joy for me, and she’s a big favorite of most visitors to my home. And then, she’s also the subject of not only this painting, but several other paintings and sketches as well as photographs, so in three years she’s provided a good bit of inspiration, not to mention wake-up duties and not-so-gentle reminders about it being dinnertime.

Peaches came to be homeless because her owner died; she was nearly euthanized because no one could figure out what to do with her, not wanting to take her to a shelter. Often, older pets come from situations like this, or where the owner has to enter the hospital or a care home, and no one can take the animal left behind. They are euthanized by the family or end up in shelters and are most often passed by, even though a “seasoned” pet usually makes the best companion.

Three years or three decades or three weeks, every adoptable animal like Peaches deserves a good and loving home.

The 16″ x 23″ giclée prints are printed on heavyweight acid-free archival paper, each signed by me, the artist. You pay me $125.00, and you’ll make a check out to the senior pet adoption program of your choice for $25.00, that way you can track it as a donation (and I don’t pay sales tax on $25.00). Standard framing is available for an extra $300.00, custom framing is available for an estimate.

Especially now, during Adopt-a-Cat month, consider helping those who are most vulnerable.