For the rescue story this week I thought I’d share this silly story I wrote about Peaches when she joined me in some product photography as part of Adopt a Senior Pet Month. I stepped away from the tripod and looked back to see Peaches on the stool as if she was ready to use the camera, and the story was born. I initially wrote this in 2006 when Peaches had been in the house for about a year and really did hop up on the stool I was using and investigated my camera. Those senior girls can be saucy, so I did my best to translate what it seemed Peaches was trying to tell me—and had been desperately trying to tell me—about her need for creative outlet, sharing it on one of my old websites and enewsletters because I wasn’t blogging yet. Peaches had been with me two years and fully ensconced in my household, was 17 years old and ready for new adventures. If there’s a better example of how adopting a senior pet can change your life, I don’t know of it.
If cats can paint, why can’t they photograph, too? Peaches Kazmarski has been looking for a creative outlet all her life, and finally found it one day when her person left her camera unattended.
“It was just too convenient,” Peaches remarks. “She walked away from one of her ridiculous projects, leaving the camera on the tripod and a convenient stool next to it and stuff all around. I couldn’t resist giving it a try, seeing that it was all set up and ready to go. I didn’t even have to turn the camera on.”
“I’m just about as proud as I can be,” her person, freelance designer, artist and writer Bernadette Kazmarski, states. “Of course, it’s about time these cats learned to do something to support their lifestyles around here.”
Peaches’ first photo was a little shaky because she thought she had to hold the button down. “I saw my person with her finger on the button all the time, but it turns out she just holds it near. I figured that out all by myself—and people think everything animals do is purely from instinct. True art requires thought and judgement.” Her next photo was indistinguishable from one of her person’s photos, whose photos are often indistinguishable from blurs and smears of color and light.
The petite dilute tortoiseshell kitty, marked by her large clear patches of white, gray and peach, whence her name, has been trying to let her human know that she has talent since she entered the household a few years ago. Peaches is no arrogant juvenile kitten, though—when asked, she says she is “somewhere in my late teens”, so she puts a mature eye on things.
Along with her sister, Cream, a calico who was white with a few orange and black spots, Peaches had lived many years in another household with another person. That person left, however, and never returned, and after a very long time with no one but someone who came to feed them the two were taken to the household where Peaches lives now. Cream left the household a while ago, and this allowed for Peaches to seek her calling outright because, “Cream used to laugh at everything I said and did, she made me feel like I was really stupid because I’m so small, but now that she’s gone I can do things without worrying about her opinion,” Peaches remarks.
“My previous person was given a book called Why Cats Paint, and after reading it over her shoulder I suddenly understood the strange visions I was having and the urges to gather seemingly unrelated items together and arrange them in new and different ways.” The catnip in all the toys was a real boost to her creative insights, Peaches adds.
Upon discovering that her new person was an artist, Peaches adapted right away, immediately getting into her new person’s face and gesticulating by waving her paws about. This dense human just never seemed to understand, only laughed and told Peaches “how cute she was”, a phrase Peaches has always heard because she is so small and intensely dislikes because of that. So Peaches had to take matters into her own paws.
“I never played with her art materials like the other cats, never swatted a pastel like Kelly or drank the watercolor rinse water like Cookie,” Peaches explained. “I was always very serious, slowly walking across a pastel drawing, for instance, so that I could add my own paw swashes to the work, even rubbing my face in certain areas that needed to be blended. I mean, I’ve been covered with blue and green and orange pastel, and she still didn’t recognize my talent!”
Photography is a natural medium for cats, Peaches remarks, especially with today’s digitals. “Everyone knows a cat’s eyesight is SO much better than any humans’, so focusing and framing are a breeze,” she says, “and you don’t need thumbs with these new cameras,” a fact that had made painting with brushes and sketching with pencils and other media impossible.
“Plus, I can climb up on the furniture more easily than she can to get better angles at whatever the heck she’s shooting. I just hope she’ll invest in one of those tiny little digitals for me because I refuse to carry a camera that weighs more than me,” the 5.5 pound feline artists proclaims.
About being an artist, Peaches claims, “There’s really nothing to it. My person makes a big deal about it all, getting the house a mess, staying up all night so we don’t get to eat on time. I can take plenty of photos and still have time for my 22 hours of sleep each day,” she says.
The other cats seem to agree that there would be lots more lap time for all of them if their person would just relax about this creative process. “Art isn’t about suffering,” Peaches says, “it’s about joy. Humans don’t understand life in general, and they certainly don’t understand joy, and they should follow the example of their cats.”
When asked about her preferred subject, Peaches says she’ll probably be shooting macro photos of household items and perhaps the occasional insect. “I’m not allowed outside, so I’ve got to work with what’s convenient, but a real artist can find inspiration in anything,” she concludes.
However, she intends to capture candids of the other cats in “compromising positions”, like washing private areas of their bodies and using the litterbox.
P.S. I read The Onion every day for inspiration, and “Area senior cat…” was too good to pass up.