It’s hard to believe it’s three years since our foster Kennedy joined us as brother, and left us all too soon. He’d been reported having seizures in a driveway in Kennedy Township, hence his name, on a sunny 90+ degree day, June 14, 2014. He was rescued by Tarra and Margo, and because I’ve handled many elderly cats and cats with severe and terminal health conditions I offered to take him and foster him for whatever might happen with him. He was with us for seven weeks, until August 6, 2014.
Kennedy somehow seemed like a brother to the family of four as soon as he came in the door. Those bristly whiskers and gaunt face, copper eyes with a cataract, bent legs, stiff spine, who could forget any of Kennedy’s battle scars? But mostly, who could forget the part that was just him: happy, full of love and friendship, despite his pain and his past as you clearly see in his eyes?
His right eye was completely cataracted and enlarged, his left was normal but with limited vision. A little bit of food and hydration, quiet and rest and he could lift his head and look at me. Though his face appeared old, especially with his bristly whiskers, his body did not. His fur was soft and shiny, his skin was sound and elastic and his body his fairly muscular even though he was very thin and obviously had traumas that twisted and stiffened his body.
It turned out he was in the same age group as Mimi’s children, and once he was strong enough he became a brother, spending some time with us in the studio each day, mixing with the boys with lots of purring. He will always be a member of our household.
Each sale of this sketch donates $5.00 to Homeless Cat Management Team/Pittsburgh C.A.T. to help them carry on with the rescue and healing work they do.
I created this sketch to help cover the costs of Kennedy’s care. I auctioned it off, and encouraged people to donate at least $25.00 and I would send them a print of the sketch. Now $5.00 from each sale goes to benefit Homeless Cat/Pittsburgh C.A.T.
From when I created this sketch:
I just couldn’t pass up sketching Kennedy in this pose. He looks at me like this so often, and I have so many photos of him, that it was another image that stayed with me until I decided what medium I really wanted to use. I had wanted to use gouache and could even picture the brushtrokes around his eyes and those bristly white whiskers. Then I remembered the gray background I wanted and the gray toned paper, then the soft charcoal and the clear white lines of white charcoal and knew that was it.
I’m still not sure I like the position, so foreshortened for the angle, but what I really wanted to capture was his face, the tattered ear, the copper eyes, the cataract, the prominent nose with the wavy front and those bristly whiskers. His front legs are each a little crooked, in different ways, as is his spine, so he sits a little lopsided. So there he is, all the things I picture when I think about him.
I sketched this from his photos, of course. But last night again I moved the baby gate to the landing, this time letting him into my bedroom as well, figuring he’d gotten his bearings the first time out and had the strength and focus to be able to get himself around the boxes in my bedroom. And he was ready as soon as I moved the gate, stepping out with confidence and heading right into my bedroom. All Five of the family were there too, stationed in various places around the floor in my room and the studio like baffles for a pinball as he walked around and between them. Mimi, surprisingly, was a small but immovable object in the center of the landing and though he poked her a few times ensuing in a hiss from her, she did not move. Each of them seemed to stay along his path and watch, but without any animosity whatsoever.
So each time he walked into the studio and looked up at me, I had another look at his eyes and his face, his stiffness and the awkward bend of his paws, and his determination, as I worked from his photographs and enjoyed this six-black-cat encounter. He gave himself little breaks for quick naps here and there, and when he finally seemed to settle in his bed I moved the baby gate back to the doorway. Everyone else settled down for a nap as well.
His health is changing and I’m not sure what the result will be.
If it hadn’t been for an organized group of rescuers Kennedy would never have found his way to my home. He would never have been rescued, and I would never have known him and been able to share him with you. Now that he is gone and the original will soon be on its way to Australia, I’m offering prints of the sketch and your opportunity to make a donation of $5.00 with each print purchased to the cat rescue I work with, Pittsburgh CAT, or to the Homeless Cat Management Team to help spay and neuter more cats so there won’t be so many to rescue.
I’m sure Kennedy is familiar to you now if you’ve been reading The Creative Cat, but if not you can read about this sketch when I first posted it, and the auction of the sketch to raise donations for his care, and read all the articles about Kennedy from when he arrived on June 16, 2014.
For years I rescued on my own, catching and trapping cats, getting them vetted and spayed and neutered and socialized and finding homes for them. I remember the days of having to wait until I got home from work to start making phone calls, and getting three or four sets of reprints of photos I’d taken of cats I had for adoption and even mailing those out to prospective adopters. It’s a wonder anyone every found a home.
I also remember making life decisions for rescues and my own cats without the consultation of anyone but my veterinarian, who I’ve trusted implicitly for over 20 years, but when it comes to euthanasia you sometimes need to talk it over, and over, until you can feel it’s right.
And then there are the costs—spays and neuters and treatments, food and medicine, toys and litter. The work of rescue is both happy and sad each day, it’s also high-paced and stressful. I’m so fortunate for this group of rescuers who provide such support from a listening ear to transportation to donations. I’m glad to support them in any way I can. And because I want to support the efforts to help reduce the need for all this, I’ll also support these rescues.
Purchase a print
A 5 x 7 digital print in archival inks on Epson Velvet Art Paper will generate a $5.00 donation.
Each week on Wednesday I feature a piece of artwork, sometimes a current or historic portrait, sometimes an illustration or an art project from years ago, usually cat-themed, but sometimes wildlife or even non-animal subjects, and even projects from my commercial art life. Read other Featured Artwork posts.
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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 without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
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