Tag Archives: Tabby Cats

Cats Get Around

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You may or may not know that I post a bi-weekly feature called The Friday Art Cat on Katzenworld, an amazing blog about all things cat. Well, it’s turned out to be a lot of fun for me, and other bloggers like what I’m doing enough to re-post my art! You can see how My Daily Musings‘ features My Article Read (this week, The Friday Art Cat is #22 on the list,) and Ravenhawks’ Magazine, a comprehensive site about spirituality and earth-friendly practices, has given The Friday Art Cat a prominent place on their post.

Closer to home, Vera, Lucy, and Bean are starting to get a little supervised outside time on the back patio to soak up the warming sun!

Three cats laying on a patio.

Left: Bean, Right: Lucy, Lower: Vera                                    We love our sunny patio!

Happy Spring weekend, everybody, and thanks for checking out the cats and news this Caturday.

Cats Helpful, Not Helpful

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This is the time of year where I work on costumes for a local high school musical. We’re doing Bye Bye, Birdie, a bouncy musical set in the 1950’s. (Imagine lots of circle skirts and Americana.)  At first, the cats were very interested in assisting, that is, until they realized that there are no actual birds in the show.

Cat looking at vintage patterns

Lucy likes to give design advice and has a good eye for color.

Cat sitting atop clothes.

Bean, ever the rational one, knows when to question my decisions. Here she asks, “you’re not really going to do that, are you?” She’s saved me from bad decisions more than once.

Sleeping cat on a sewing table.

Vera is content to allow work to progress, as long as she has a place on the sewing table.

A Hole in the Door

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Between the place where there is the food dish, and the place of the litter box, exists a miraculous openness, The Magic Portal. It doesn’t require any thumbs to operate, and it allows free passing to those in need. In the best of a times, a cat may travel unhindered up and down the stairs. At it’s worst, it is used as a political tool in the power struggle for territory and domination.

Ginger cat sitting in a kitty doorway.

The view from the other side.

The humans like it because they don’t have to continually open and close the door for a cat, or leave the door ajar. In addition, The Magic Portal is a great source of entertainment for the humans, as the cat politics do not go unnoticed.

Cat Shack Fever

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Cat by a snowy window

Maybe I’ll go out.

A cats sits at the window by the cat shack ramp, contemplating the blowing snow. I was certain that if the pathway was clear, she might venture into the shelter to explore the wintry scene. I shoveled.

Person shoveling a short deck.

Fluffy snow and 17° F. Still, I hoped my efforts would free the cats from the house.

Back inside, I open the window, and a rush of cold whooshes in. I steel myself for the chilly air entering my kitchen. A cat sits and thinks, declines the offer, and waits for spring.

Gray tabby kitty on a sofa

Full of ennui from lack of daylight and little exercise.

Getting All Christmas-y

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When I work on illustrations of cats, I use a reference because I’ve never been an artist who remembers the details of an object from my imagination. A lot of times, I can work out the surroundings, or take a quick look at something, say, a table, and draw it. But, for the main subject, kitty!, I usually work from a photo. I like photos not so much because I want to capture every whisker, but more because there’s usually the placement or angle of a pose that I want to capture.

Watercolor painting of a cat with presents with the comparison photo of the same cat used as reference for the painting.

My sweet, long-suffering Emily was just waiting for me to finish working  in the studio one night when I took this shot. Later, I used it as inspiration for the painting on the right.

For my holiday series, I  first come up with the idea for the composition. Then, I search through my hundreds (literally) of cat photos for the poses that I think will best fit my idea. On the rare occasion I don’t find what I am looking for, I might go in search of a willing model, but it’s hard to get a cat to pose! That’s why I take pictures frequently to use for reference later. That way, I almost always have the exact look I want.

Side by side comparison of a drawing of a cat before the watercolor and pen work is added.

On the left is an example of the drawing I made for the finished painting on the right.

In the beginning, I block out the composition in pencil, finally adding the details with watercolor, and sometimes adding in pen for contrast and definition.

I have quite a collection of Christmas Cats at this point. So, I thought I would have some of them printed on greeting cards. I use a local printer who works with me to accurately represent the original color when translated to the digital reproduction. I’m so happy with how they turned out, that I decided to offer them for the first time in my Etsy shop and at the local holiday markets!

A collection of Christmas Cards featuring Cats from Carol Parker Mittal at Attack Cat Studio

My collection of Christmas Cats! You can find them at Etsy, or just send me a private message for special orders.

If you want your own, find them at Attack Cat Studio: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AttackCatStudio

 

 

Guess Who Just Got Their Teeth Cleaned

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My vet recommended Vera for a cleaning because her gums had become inflamed, causing pain and discomfort. Cats can have similar dental issues to people that can impact overall health and well-being, so, we loaded a grumpy Miss Vera into the carrier and took her to the kitty dentist!

Smiling Cat

Look at my sparkly, clean teeth!

The procedure requires anesthetic so the teeth can be thoroughly cleaned and inspected. This also allows the vet to do any extractions or other procedures while the cat is safely asleep. The medical staff makes a complete record of the cat’s mouth, and, just like the familiar work-up from a human dentist, a digital x-ray record shows all of the teeth, and allows the vet to analyze any hidden complications. For example, Vera has a tooth that is showing evidence of resorption, but is not a problem at this time.

Cat dental x-rays

Here is a close up of Vera’s jaw. A pretty good check up!

Miss Vera came out of the anesthesia with no issues. She now has sparkly clean teeth, and her gums have returned to a healthy state. Another bonus is that Vera no longer offends her other cat friends with bad breath!

Special thanks to Dr. Jill Erickson at VCA Cherry Bend Animal Hospital!

 

5 Things I Love About Cats

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5 Things I Love About Cats

Why DO people like cats soooo much? Cats claw your stuff, vomit on the rug, and track litter all over the house. They wake you up at four in the morning by walking on your face. They deposit cat hair everywhere, and never like riding in the car. And, yet, they are adored. My cats are so revered that I will pay to put my cat-allergic guests up in a hotel when they come to visit than oust my felines.

Cat in a box. Cats playing with toys.

Predictable, curious cats make playtime fun.

Here are a few things I love about cats:

  1. They’re entertaining. From excited reactions to catnip and laser pointers, to the predictable occupation of a cardboard box, cats provide hours of distracting fun.
  2. They’re aesthetically pleasing. Graceful, always thoughtful about the placement of their paws, there’s something about the presence of a cat that makes a space more habitable, more beautiful.

    Cat asleep in the sun.

    So beautiful! There’s something peaceful about a kitty in a sun puddle.

  3. Cats are snuggly. In varying degrees, my cats like to get pets and scruffs from the humans. Vera is the flopper who waits until I am perfectly settled before plopping over on me. Lucy just likes to be in my vicinity. Bean wants the full on lap experience. As in, “Please do not move. Ever. Or I will bite you.”

    Cats with their people.

    My cats love to be with the humans.

  4. Cat politics. Who gets to perch on the highest part of the cat tree? Who comes and goes through the window to the catio first? There are places in the house that clearly belong to one cat and other places that are comfortable, communal property.

    Cats in cat tree. Cat in a pod.

    From cat tree hierarchy, to pod sleepers, cats work out their own territory.

  5. Cats are a good reason to come home. Seriously. I love my home and life, but the thing that convinces me to return from any vacation that my cats are waiting for me. I say this with all sincerity, yet remain dubious regarding cats actually missing me.

Do you love cats? What is it that you find so appealing about cats? Why do you put up with all of the cattiness and furballs? Share your story!

Soft, Yet Sometimes Evil

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Soft, Yet Sometimes Evil

Intelligent, impertinent, and sometimes snuggly, Miss Bean exudes personality. At nine years, she is the old lady of our cats.

Kitten and Cat

On the left is little Miss Bean just a few days after I rescued her. On the right is Miss Bean now. She still likes to look out the window.

A stray on the campus of the private school where I taught in San Antonio, she was pulled from the rosemary bushes by the maintenance staff in 2006. The school policy on cats was to call animal control, so I asked the guys to hand over the kitten to me. She was so tiny that she needed to be bottle fed, so, for weeks, she came to school with me, at first just sleeping and eating in a crate in my office. As she became more mobile, she pounced around the art room, posed as a model for drawing, and sometimes, caused chaos.

Kitty on table

The wee Miss Bean was a daily fixture in the art room when she was a kitten.

At home, she never really socialized properly with the other cats. There was a time when she was being catified by Cleo, one of my older calicos, but Cleo became ill and passed away, leaving Bean without a mentor.

Cat laying on person

Miss Bean positions herself where she is the most comfortable.

Occasionally, Bean still has difficulties relating to the other beings. I understand that bottle fed kittens are notorious for bad behavior. Bean has her moments, but under patient direction, constant reassurance and training, she has become a wise, mellow, somewhat snuggly friend. Bean especially likes to spend her down time perched on my husband.

Cat in a catio.

On the shelf in the Tabby Shack surveying the neighbors.

I am really bonded with Bean, I guess because of bottle feeding, and the extra special care she’s always needed. She has exquisite, multi-colored fur, a white kisser, and black, black feet bottoms.  Bean can really be a sweet cat once you know to be gentle, and watch for her communication. I can’t believe I’ve lived with Miss Bean for nine years already! She’s definitely been worth the trouble.

Too Many To Count

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Too Many To Count

Panama City is sprawling and modern with amazing architecture, stunning tropical vistas, and a lot of history. Panama City also has an alarmingly high stray animal population. With lazy, unkempt dogs visible in every part of the city, I knew there had to be stray cats, but where?

I’d seen a single, sneaky cat in an alley near a grocery, one under a car near the fish market, and a couple of scrappy cats in the old part of the city. But, it wasn’t until our final night that I found the lair.

Alley cat, cat under car, cat on wall

Grocery, fish market, and apartment dumpster cats in Casco Viejo, Panama City.

We were strolling in the linear park along the Pacific Ocean looking for raspa when I saw a petite, mewing white and calico kitty perched on the seawall, along with at least 20 of her friends! There were feral cats sneaking in the bushes, lurking on the rocks behind the wall, and many just out in the open. They were looking for handouts, endeavoring to be approachable in hopes that someone would toss an edible morsel. Some of the cats were people-friendly and would scruff on someone’s leg or take a pet on the head. Most were dubious, and darted a safe distance away upon being approached.

Cat on the sea

A collection of the sweet, feral cats I bonded with at the marina in Panama City.

I discovered that these cats are part of a managed colony run by kind people at an enormous city marina. When I asked the night guard how many cats he thought lived at the marina, he laughed. Too many to count.

Too many to count. That basically encapsulates the stray population, in general. Too many dogs. Too many cats. A problem that humans created, and are now trying to manage through education and sterilization, while struggling to provide basic food and care for the uncountable.

Watercolor sketch of cats

Drawings in my sketchbook of just a few of the feral cats I met. 

And yet, help comes. Of all of the cats I encountered, I could tell they were being fed, as evidenced by piles dry cat food scattered on the pavement. Almost all had a clipped ear, the sign of having been spayed or neutered. A cat here or there needed serious personal grooming, but mostly they seemed adjusted to their lives in the tropics, resting on a seawall, enjoying the cool ocean breeze.

Garfield, One Popular Gato

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Garfield, One Popular Gato

Before he came to live with us, Garfield was a neighborhood wanderer who enjoyed lounging in the neighbor’s driveways. Originally abandoned, he was left to fend for himself in our suburban South Texas subdivision. Garfield was one popular gato, and everyone on the street knew him. Some would give him treats when he made the evening rounds. Eventually though, Garfield decided he liked our backyard best, and we would find him asleep on a patio chair, ready to take scruffs on the head. It seemed natural the he would join our cat posse when the elderly couple who fed him moved away. After his history of abandonment, and the fact that he had adopted us, it was inconceivable that we would leave Garfield behind when we decided to relocate.

Ginger cat with signs

Left: My Big Orange Friend, Garfield. Right: Some of the signs we plastered around the area in hopes of a call for his return.

The night that Garfield disappeared, we had only been in the new house for a week. We were busy organizing, and unpacking until late. Our best guess is that Garfield wandered out of a door that was not properly closed all of the way. No human noticed he was missing until well after dark. Despite an exhausting and emotional search that lasted for months, we never saw Garfield again.

Collage of Garfield remembrances

Left: Small garden with cat nip located near the Tabby Shack. Center: My skirt complete with Garfield pocket. Right: Memorial lantern launch in remembrance.

This year, at the one-year mark of his disappearance, we made a small cat nip garden next to the Tabby Shack. I sewed a Garfield patch, that I printed, onto a skirt. And, after dark, we launched nine orange and yellow lanterns in honor of Garfield’s nine lives, and the 9 years we spent knowing him– 5 years in our San Antonio neighborhood, and 4 official years with us. I am still sad and sorry. I hope that Garfield is getting lots of love wherever he is. May he turn up in the old neighborhood in San Antonio, begging for treats.