“I always wanted to be a model,” the slender white cat wearing a gray cloche hat at a jaunty angle said. “Unfortunately, I caught this disease and my career was over. But I’d so like it if you’d take my photo.” Sweet, quiet, dignified, that is Virginia.
Virginia is one of the cats who lives at In Care of Cats Sanctuary. I met so many cats that I didn’t get the time to ask each individual story, but I do know that Virginia is so named because she originated in that state. I’d photographed her when I first came in, below, happily sleeping in the sun, and she awoke and looked at me just in time to let the sun shine through her pale coral ears.
I walked all around the sanctuary after that asking questions of Risé and Janine and just as we were about to leave that section and go outdoors we stopped for a few last questions. Janine, the main caretaker who knows each cat by name and health history, said to me, “Turn around—Virginia is looking at you so longingly, could you take her picture? I think she’d like that.”
I turned around and indeed there was Virginia sitting tall and perfectly balanced, paws placed just so, her head at a coy tilt. She blinked once, then continued to look at me. I took several photos, the lighting was a little difficult and I wanted to be certain I caught all the nuances of Virginia. I photographed so many cats that day and so many cats on a regular basis, and surely I do my best to describe them with these images, or to capture an interesting view with all the abilities of myself and my equipment, but a truly beautiful being is beautiful no matter what you do or who takes the photo. Every photo of Virginia was interesting, distinctive and lovely, and that was not my talent but her natural beauty.
As I photographed her many impressions wandered through my imagination, a story, a 1920s flapper girl, a 1930s stage actress, young and beautiful, overcoming great odds as a woman in that day and the challenges of those days with a promising career, but some illness, in those days deadly, today curable, put a stop to that, but she never lost her dignity.
I can’t save her, no one can; her disease, feline leukemia virus, will soon take her life, but she will be remembered here for her natural beauty, grace and dignity.
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Read more about the Petties in this post.
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