In 2017 we had been cat-less for two years (after having had three cats who lived many years) and had suffered a horrible mouse epidemic where the mice were pooping *everywhere* and even chewing through my coat and pants pockets to get the dog treats in them! Yuck! I live-trapped 35 of them and moved them to a Mouse Halfway House I had established out by the railroad tracks. We didn't want another winter like that one, plus we missed having cats in spite of cat boxes to clean. We left it a little late to start looking for kittens; we did want kittens, siblings, short hair if possible. We wanted kittens because we keep cats indoors (for their safety and that of small wildlife and birds), and older cats who are used to going outdoors might be miserable. We wanted siblings so they could be company for each other and get along. We wanted short hair because we didn't want to deal with grooming and hairballs. We had no luck. There were no kittens anywhere to be had! Finally, in October, on craigslist, I found kittens! When I inquired I found they were perfect! Two brothers, gray mackerel tabby, short hair, six weeks old (I think they were actually maybe a little younger), and they lived in Bemidji.
Heidi, their then human mom, was surprised we were willing to travel all the way to Bemidji for kittens; but we had absolutely fallen in love with them from the pictures she sent and had to have them in our family. We and the dogs spent the night in our camper in the woods near Crosby, then I trekked up to Bemidji alone to collect our new boys. We didn't want to overwhelm with two dogs and two people etc.
I had forgotten how "northern-Minnesota" Bemidji is! The homeplace Heidi directed me to was a couple of miles outside the town, kind of what I might call "the middle of nowhere." I had to stop for a deer who was just standing in the road, in the fog, looking at me. Heidi had given me the landmark that her place had a Napa Auto Parts sign outside, which helped. I pulled up to a collection of buildings, and was surprised to see in the front window a series of blonde heads looking out at me; at least ten, from five feet on down. A young woman in a head-scarf, a simple shift dress, and bare feet answered the door when I knocked. Heidi and all the other young women were dressed exactly the same. The dresses on the girls and women and the trousers and shirts on the little boys all looked hand crafted. After I stepped in, I was instantly surrounded by a crowd of articulate children of all sizes and several dogs. The hunt began for the kittens in the large, concrete-floored, garage-style storage space attached to the living space.
As I spoke with the children and teen-aged girls and young women while the kitten hunt progressed, it began to appear that all of the children were from different families in a sort of religious commune of some kind; hence the common dress style. According to the many accounts I was hearing, the kittens' mother had had them in the barn; but it being so late in the year, the people feared for the kittens and brought them inside, whereupon the mother abandoned them, and the people had to feed them by hand. So the kitten-boys were used to being handled by children, by many different hands of different sizes, and being fed by people, not their mom. At the time they came home with us they were weaned, eating dry cat food, and using the litter box.
The kittens were found, finally, asleep behind some boxes. A little girl brought them to me, one in each hand, just little scraps of gray fur (they turned out to be one pound each!), for transfer to the soft crate I had brought as their temporary home, which included a litterbox made of a large-ish ziplock storage bin with kitty litter in it, and some soft fleece blankets.
The rest is Blaine-family history: Patrick still remembers seeing those darling little creatures in the crate for the first time; the kittens came home with us; Daisy our terrier didn't eat them but looked on them as her own children; Archie still nurses on a certain blanket, maybe missing his lost time with his cat mom--though they both did that at first, Freddie has outgrown it; they are 10 and 12 pounds now respectively, Archie being heavier; they are best friends and often go outside (even in this 2019 winter) in the catwalk Patrick built for them, that will likely include a fish-pond summer 2019.
A friend of ours who grew up on a farm said her family called kittens born so late in the year, after the harvest, stubble kittens. I hadn't heard that term before. Freddie and Archie are gracious trouble and very affectionate, our stubble kittens.
Oh my goodness, the ribbon was tricky on this one! This is my friend Robin's cat, and Robin has painted Dorian a number of times, so I was honored to be asked to paint her myself! So many colors in grey cat, and those eyes were a treat~ that ribbon was seriously a lesson in abstraction and just looking at what value I see... I think it turned out well!
In Robin's own words~
"Here's what I have to say about Dorian Gray.
Dorian Gray turns 17 years old this month. She is an easy cat to love. She has always been a tad reserved, but her manners are impeccable. If I am late with a meal, she politely lets me know, but she does not pester me. If the door to a forbidden room does not latch, the other two cats push it open and immediately go exploring. Dorian will wait in the doorway with her tail nervously twitching. She wants to go in, but knows she is not supposed to. For treats, she sits on command, will spin in circle (which we call dancing), and will jump through a hoop. While she hates to be picked up, she snuggles in my lap and always loves to be brushed. She is a very, very good cat."
Today is a double kitty painting! Fresh back from Florida~ whew! "Here are Sonny Boy and Stella Bella. They are siblings from a foster mama we took care of in April of 2017 so they're almost 2 yrs old. Sonny has the white paws and is bigger than Stella. However, Stella rules the roost! They love each other and are so playful. Sonny is more shy and reserved. Stella is a hunter and loves to be active- she's often on the top of our kitchen cabinets- loves the high perspective. They gallop through the house a few times a day chasing each other and we often comment the track meet has started. When it's nice they go outside for some fresh air... but have enjoyed sitting in our windowsills watching the bird feeders this winter. They both love to cuddle.... I call them our therapy cats cause our grown daughter Ann who lives with us gets so much comfort from them. They are like her "kits". They give us so much love and bring laughter to our lives. We can't imagine our home without them."
I love our hamster, Holiday, and I know other people who love their rodent friends. This is such a sweet story!
"Our daughter, Greta, has long adored her pet rats. Sadly, they don't live long, and we thought this would be a wonderful way to remember one of her favorites. Her first rat, Haret, had died, and we had been looking for someone to join the remaining duo. There was a teacher at Greta's school that raised pythons - and also raised their meals. We were able to save one tiny ball of fur from its intended fate. Here's the journal entry from April 21, 2015.
Greta turns 8 AND a new rat comes home to live at our house. She's smaller than Greta's hand - 2 weeks old. She had already set Monty and Loowy down to explain what it meant to be a big brother. "I started crying on the way home. She's my dream rat. She has Monty's nose and Loowy's ears. I am going to name her Dreamy."
And this is Winnie, the actual cat-of-the-day, who also happens to be a lovely black cat! A much fluffier one, certainly, but a lovely one~ I fell in love with the tilt of her head and the softness of that fluff~
You know I love painting black dogs, but did you know I also love to paint black cats? This is Hobie Cat, who has her own hashtag, and who is the busy and welcoming shop cat at Florida Bay Outfitters in Key Largo, which is owned by our friends Frank and Monica!
I lived in Key Largo a long time ago and met Monica at Plantation Key School, where I was one of the art teachers there- it was a great experience!
We are in the Florida Keys, Marathon at the moment- Max is attempting to fish off the back dock behind our hotel room, and I'm getting busy on the hotel internet~ This is the first actual hotel we've stayed in, and I have to say, I think I loved the RV's better! We had great breezes all night in the campers, and the air conditoner last night wasn't the same at all~ there is a bit more humidity today. We head home tomorrow~ Max said this morning "I wish we were staying another week, or at least two more days!" Duane's been trying to help him fish. It's what Max is obsessed with right now~
But that's enough about us! I'm painting extra cats because it's so great here, so stay tuned, there's another today!
These two are for the same young woman who belongs to a family that really loves their cats! Bear is the fluffier one, and now that I'm looking at him, I'm seeing that there needs to be a few more whiskers in evidence, and maybe some more fluffiness...
George, on the other hand, is pretty darn fun! He looks so sure of himself, and like he's smiling a little off to the side, enjoying a private joke, not a mean one, mind you! Just some silly little thing he finds amusing~
This one was a bit tricky to paint, and a bit trickier to post! We are wandering around Florida at the moment, and our internet is intermittent...
Flint was painted next to the lovely salt pool at the Vintage BnB in Homestead, where we stayed for our first couple nights here. It was great because there was a covered, screened in pool and hottub, and there were numerous families with kids just about Max's age, so he was in the pool and running around with kids constantly! Now we are in the Keys, just got back from kayaking and I'm trying to get this posted while I'm able~
Whew! And is it obvious why I chose this cat to paint? Those eyes, and something about the shape of that face~ just amazing!
And here is another kitty for you~ a calico!
I had so much fun with this profile, and getting the negative space rolling, and those whiskers~ painting on black is so much fun, when you let the light come through!
Silly enjoys sitting on top of her owner’s goldfish tank, as she fishes & teases her fish friends! She also loves to give love pats to anyone who passes her- just as a reminder that she would like to be petted please!!!!
So good to read that you like painting black cats!!!
I chose this green-eyed kitty for St Patrick's Day~ she's also a redhead! Puuuuurfect! And here's what her owner Kelly says~
Princess Peach was adopted from the AHS at 6 years old. When Kelly first got her, she had a super short lion cut, but now her beautiful orange hair is grown out. Even though she is an adult, she is very petite and looks a lot younger! My boyfriends’ mom Mina Leierwood calls her Princess Pipsqueek :)
She often has a grumpy-looking facial expression, which makes for some amusing photos. She loves chasing her toys around, sneaking into the basement, and EATING!!
This is a special cat~ and this is a piece Michaela wrote about Kitaro~
The house has been so lonely without Kitaro. Sure, there is lots of activity, what with Anna, Uryuu and Opal, but there is a giant void.
He would always come running when I kicked the leg support out on the couch. He couldn't wait to nap on my lap while I was napping. He would sometimes decide he was done with my lap and force me out of my spot so that he could sleep there. Of course I usually let him.
He was wicked smart. He loved to play fetch and when the mouse landed somewhere unexpected, he would search and search until he found it. It could be as long as five minutes.
He was always calm when Uryuu scruffed him. He would relax and twist out of it. He almost always won the tussles that they had.
He he was the best big brother a kitten could have. He was so excited when Opal moved in. He played with her very gently from the start. He also made sure the Uryuu didn't hurt her. Opal misses him something fearce.
He very rarely meowed. We expected a Siamese to be talking all the time. When he did speak up, you knew he had something important to say.
It also felt very much that he was here for a purpose. In hind sight, I think that purpose was my transition. Almost immediately after I admitted that I was transgender, he started kneading my belly. He NEVER did that before. He continued doing it through his illness. I seemed to have been happy that I was now his mommy. Once he was confident that I was solidly on my path, it was time for him to move on. He was only with us for 8 years.
It is Robin's birthday today! And these are her kitties, and here's what she says about them~
Tigger (orange) and Trixie (grey) are a very affectionate brother and sister from the same litter. They are usually found curled up together in various positions throughout the house. It is often hard to tell where one cat begins and the other ends!
...and I had another adjustment to make! Do please let me know if you were planning on nabbing your painting, because if you haven't told me you are going to buy it, and I haven't painted it yet, you may get bumped for another cat! And I also made a date mistake- today I had Tigger and Trixie scheduled, but their owner had requested the 15th, so I'm doing them on Friday, so today we are honored to have yet another Siamese looker, this one being Smokey!
And on another note, if you are in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, or anywhere else in this crazy winter storm, do take care, be kind, go slow. You are more important than a roof or a late appointment or just about anything. It is slick as you know what around here, and I left my yak trax at home! Be careful and once you get home, stay as put as you can!
Oh and if you want to come paint with me on Saturday, it's 10-1:30, Paint Your Pet! $75 all materials covered! Click here to sign up!
This is Naldo, whom I've painted before but I just can't get enough of him! I mean, LOOK at this face! Here's the link from last year's painting of him~ I really love this angle. It shows off that elegant siamese nose~ what a profile!
Isn't she lovely? I really loved the light on this one, and though I was a bit worried about the downward looking eyes, thinking they wouldn't read well, I'm actually pleased with how this turned out. And here is what Angel's owner says about her~
She had several owners before we got her when she was 6. She came with the owner's name of "Pancake" and our downstairs neighber calls her "Sugar" because she is so sweet. But the most synchronistic story is when my grandaughter came over to see her, and I said, "What should we call her?" and she said "Angel." Later that day I took off her collar and tag which we hadn't even looked at and the tag said "Angel."
I do love how Angels show up everywhere!
This is today's kitty~ another fluff ball, with a lovely elegance in those eyes~ Felix is basically a warm pillow cat, except at breakfast and dinner time. He was adopted as a kitten in 2009, has been with me through tons of ups and downs. After food his preference is to be stretched out on my legs, as long as he can go. He’s a bigish guy, at about 15 pounds and quite possibly has some Maine Coon in his system (though his mom was a tiny black shorthair, so who knows?). When he’s not getting things exactly his way he wanders the house letting us know with his “crabby tabby” meow, just a hint of gravel in his voice. Really, though, he’s just a hungry love machine.
Now, here is a cat that has gorgeous eyes, and whose eyes led to my choice of background color. I have to say I am pretty pleased with it! Some of these faces just beg for a story. Something kinda dark and dangerous, with a hint of humor for this guy- like an Indiana Jones tale...
Ella is one of those cats who loves her owner but wants everyone else to just back off. I had a tricky time getting her eyes in the right place, though I am pretty happy with all those different shades of white in her fur~
Another slight schedule change~ I didn't yet have the photo for the kitty scheduled for today, so instead I am pulling a kitty that was submitted but that hadn't made the list! So you never know what will happen in this world of Kat! I have updated the list on the first post too, here, in case you are confused about where we are... if you cat is affected by changes, I've attempted to contact you so you'll know~
At any rate, you can probably see why I chose this one, though now I'm seeing a trend in fluffy, beige cats... hmmm....
And Leo's owner has this to say~
"We got him from the AHS 4 years ago when he was about a year old. He is an American longhair with most of the characteristics of a main coon. He is tall and lean. He loves company, is very playful, but not a lapcat. He is my favorite cat of all because he, unlike my other cat, uses the scratching posts that I have strategically placed in my house instead of the furniture."
Yes, I had Gideon the African Grey set for today, but I revised that to accommodate this fella, Oswald~ and this is the first one I've struggled with this month. Hmmm. What does that mean? It's only the 6th! This is one of those lighter colored cats that sometimes causes problems with my value judgement. As in I have some trouble really seeing where areas are darker than others- I originally had the background as green, because of his green eyes, but I think it works better now- I've included the original at the bottom of the Revised List for you!
6x6 acrylic on wood
1- Waldo for Kate R
2- Blue for Sonya J
3- Basil for Alexis
4- Chimney Sweep for Cat
5- MiaoMiao for Bette J
6- Oswald for Barb
7- Smokey for Jimmy
8- Ella for Lindy
9- Pilar for Constance
10- Felix for Solveig
11- Angel for Judith Rae
12- Naldo for Joe L
13- Tigger and Trixie for Robin N
14- Buddy for Kathy P
15- Zuko the Yak for Lois, and maybe Gideon the African Grey
Another example of a cat photo that caught my eye immediately~
And here's what Cat, Chimney Sweep's one, told me~
"I found her at the Hollywood Farmers market, my first weekend in my new Hollywood home, 8 years ago. Was not planning on adopting so soon, but when I picked her up, she wrapped her arms around me and... that motor - Purrrrrrrrrr! Her first two week trial with me she was a total asshole - peeing in plants, destroying things, biting and scratching people, and trying to escape up the chimney. Hence, her name.
At the end of the two week trial, I called the rescue, telling her what a jerk this cat was, and perhaps it wasn't a good match. She assured me that Rainbow (her given name) was probably just testing me/settling in, and would I be willing to give her another two weeks? By the end of the second two weeks, you couldn't pry that snuggle bug out of my arms! And she never went up the chimney again."
Again, here's a photo of a beautiful cat that is darn near irresistible, along with the fact that Basil lives in Nashville with my cousin Alexis who is also an artist in silver jewelry (I think I attached her instagram link there...) and her hubby who is a musician in the band Halestorm~ and she hasn't sent me a note about this gorgeous cat, though I know she is planning her spring garden, which seems much closer to someone in Tennessee than someone in Minnesota, I imagine...
This is the first cat of my 30 Cats in 30 Days Daily Painting Challenge! Thanks for joining me! I'm super excited about this because it really makes me accountable for getting in some painting every day (which I usually do anyway, but this makes it more official) and also by having you out there following along and making sure I do get this done every day.
I chose this photo because Waldo's eyes are just so huge! And plus I love painting black animals. Have I mentioned that before?