Cookie Goes to Work

cat in table of glass
I think I’d look nice on this table.

I never knew how much fun work could be.

I work here all day long providing vigilant protection and comfort to my mom, but I’ve never worked outside our home, even though I’ve sat right by the door with the look no one could mistake, letting my mom know that I would be happy to accompany her wherever she went.

But she would just laugh, though sometimes she would say that if she could take me, she would.

And today, when I walked to the door and turned around to look up at her, she said, “Guess what, Cookie? Today you’re coming with me! We’ll give this a try.”

. . . . . . .

tortoiseshell cat looking in mirror
Who is that–? Oh…

Yes, four years ago today I took Cookie to “work” with me! I wrote the original post for this on this day four years ago and, since Memorial Day is coming up and I’ve been remembering Cookie lately anyway along with many others, I thought I’d share this for today’s “marketplace” post.

cat on counter
I think someone is coming!

I’ve always wanted a little shop of my own, and of course that shop would have a cat. Running a shop is a serious investment of time and money, though, and I know it will be a while before I can have my shop and gallery, promote other artists and host their shows, so I was more than grateful to Judi Stadler for suggesting I set up in her back room at Carnegie Antiques in March 2010. We’ve been working together for years as I designed her website and help her with promotions and she attends just about all my shows, refers me to others and has purchased several pieces of my artwork.

tortoiseshell cat and woman
Cookie welcomes Judi to her shop.

Cookie is right—she is the best choice for a shop cat, both because she really was the inspiration for all those block prints with “The Goddess”, which in turn led to many other handmade items and gave me enough material to open a shop, and because she always had the personality for it. Even though she was a tortie cat she was happy and friendly and purring, and everyone was amazed by her face that was split by color right down the middle.

tortoiseshell cat greeting customer
My first customer!

Cookie was 18, and the reality of a stand-alone shop for me was and still is years in the future, so I decided Cookie and I had to do this right then. I knew she’d be fine with it after her initial unease, but I also knew she’d be physically active because she was very curious and at 18 I wasn’t sure if she could handle all that physical activity without wearing out, so I was prepared to take her home. Four hours was about as long as I’d keep her there, with water bowls and some treats and a litterbox, and hopefully she’d also relax and have a real sleep while she was there.

tortoiseshell cat on chair
But I’m having a bath!

Here is how Cookie’s day went, in her own words.

. . . . . . .


Well I was ready and standing right by the door, but instead of just opening it as I had expected, she stuffed me in the pink plastic thing! What was this?!

cat in carrier
I’ll bet you’re going to the V-E-T!!

“Bet you’re going to the doctor,” Mr. Sunshine said through the wire mesh.


Then she lifted the thing and instead of walking with dignity on the sidewalk to the car as I had always seen her do, I was carried and plunked in the back seat.

She got in and started the car, and I began to think I’d been duped.

“Meeoooww-oww-OW-ow,” I let her know at medium volume.

tortie cat in carrier
No! I want to go back!

“Oh, Cookie, you’ll be fine!” she answered.

“Meee-OW-oow-yow-ROW-row-ooo,” I told her, a little louder.

I hate it when she laughs at me. “It’s just a short ride, Cookie, and when we get there, you’ll have a great time,” she said.

I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go anywhere if this was how it was going to be. “Meeee-OWW-ow-YOW-yow!” I answered at full volume.

But the car stopped and she got out, picking up several things including me in the pink thing and heading for the porch of a strange building, unlocked the door and set me down inside. It was cool, dark and quiet and smelled very strange, but elements of it smelled familiar somehow.

Then we went though another door and she set me down and opened the door on the pink thing. I was out of there and several steps away before I even looked around.

tortoiseshell cat in shop
I think I know this place!

It was like another house, and it smelled even more familiar, though I couldn’t place it. I wanted to slowly explore, but I was too shaken up by the whole experience of getting there so I just started pacing and talking to wear it off.

cat in shop
I wandered all over until I felt I knew the place.

“Meee-OW-w,” I said as I walked around in the next room.

“Cookie Girl,” mom called in her familiar sing-song voice.

“Mee-yow-row?” I asked as I entered yet another room and heard mom coming up behind me.

tortoiseshell cat on tablecloths
These crocheted tablecloths make a very nice bed.

“So what do you think?” she asked. I gave her a straight-forward gaze and began heading back to the original room, but I was feeling more comfortable now. There was nothing threatening here. It’s been most of my life since I’ve been at a veterinarian’s office because the lady comes to our house, but Namir used to go away all the time and come back smelling like really frightening stuff. There was none of that smell here.

tortoiseshell cat on chair
I have to sit on every chair.

Then someone came in who was also familiar. And then it all came together!

It was Aunt Judi, mom’s friend who visits sometimes, and sometimes mom comes home smelling like Judi’s house and her cats. This place smelled a little like Aunt Judi, and it also smelled like our house, and then I suddenly recognized the things in that first room! This was the shop mom had been writing and talking about for months!

tortoiseshell cat on chair
How do I look on this chair?

“So here’s our little shop cat?” Aunt Judi said. I proudly agreed and purred vigorously that I would do my best to guard things and greet customers. I walked around the counter putting little things in their place and stepping on the top of a table to get a better view of the room.

cat in shop
Perhaps I should wait here.

Then Aunt Judi’s boyfriend Don came in. “Well, look here, we’ve always wanted to have a shop cat!” he said. I don’t know him as well but he’s a real cat person, he’s got it written all over him and he knows how to pet a cat.

Then mom and Aunt Judi proceeded to ignore me and do their boring talking thing, but mom got me a pretty ceramic pot full of water and placed it on the floor.

cat drinking from water bowl
My vintage water bowl in the front of the shop.

“I didn’t want to use anything that people may use for their own food or beverage someday,” my mom said. “Not everyone likes to use a bowl that a cat has used, even though we wouldn’t care,” she continued.

What was that all about? Not that I cared. I drink out of mom’s water glass after she’s had a drink from it.

Aunt Judi picked me up again so she could pet me some more on the counter, and then we had our first visitor! I walked right over and looked at him, purring, so of course he petted me. I guess that’s what a shop cat is supposed to do. From everyone’s reactions, I did pretty well for my first customer greeting. But then, I’ve been greeting people in our house all my life.

cat in shop
Perhaps I should wait here.

Eventually everyone left and mom and I were there. She set up a chair behind the counter for me with a train case for a step where I could look out the window and watch things. Now and then I jumped down to peruse the middle room and the end room again, then came back to my post.

tortoiseshell cat on counter
I think I’ll have a biscotti!

She blew up balloons and tied them to a sign that had me on it, and put it outside, and took care of a few other things while I bathed. The door was open and the traffic was very loud. I went to look out the door but I didn’t want to get too close and went back to my chair so I could supervise my mom.

sign with tortoiseshell cat
Here’s the sign with me on it!

I might rather be at home where it’s more familiar, but this was a little exciting, and I like to be with my mom. Anywhere is fine with me, as long as my mom is there.

It was only right that I should be here because, even though Stanley watches over Mom’s fine art and the whole marketplace thing, I was the inspiration for her to sell fun handmade merchandise and open up a shop, and I’m always in the advertisements for her shop, even the virtual one.

“Okay, Cookie, we’re going back to our room now,” she said after a while, and we made our way back through the central room, stopping to look things over, then I joined my mom in the back room.

cat drinking from water bowl
My vintage water bowl in the back.

She had already placed a water bowl for me in the corner. I had a good long drink of water, then looked around and realized I recognized just about everything in the room. Mom was pulling boxes around and rearranging things and suddenly I was very tired. I found a convenient box under the table in the center of the room where I could watch everything, and took a little nap. I have to admit, humans have quite the stamina and can get quite a bit done in the course of a day.

cat on box under table
This is a nice bed.

When I awoke I had a stretch and a drink and saw that mom was nearly done moving things, but there was one section that was not to my liking, so I jumped in there and rubbed my nose on boxes and looked encouragingly. Mom obligingly rearranged things, and they looked much nicer.

tortoiseshell cat on boxes
I help mom figure out how much space is here.

I did the rounds again and came back, and then we had lunch. I looked at mom and purred in the middle of my meal. This was good. If this was what work was like, I had no idea why people complained so much.

cat through curtain
What’s back here? It says “staff only”.

Then I settled on a chair where, I’ll admit, I looked very attractive, especially surrounded by several things with my image on them. I had another bath and a little nap, and suddenly it was time to go. It went so fast! I can’t wait to go back again!

tortoiseshell cat on chair
My chair in the back.

Except that I had to go back into that awful pink plastic thing again! I fought it, and all the way home I let mom know how I felt, but the ride back was equally short and before I knew it I was in mom’s office and walking back out of the carrier. After another little snack and a long drink and a trip to the boxes, we were back at mom’s desk. I was exhausted after my full day, and I just stretched out and looked forward to a nice long sleep.


tortoiseshell cat on desk
Cookie is exhausted after a day’s work.

Could Cookie and I have it any better? A few more customers maybe, but Cookie and I certainly enjoyed our time together. I love all my other cats, but Cookie has always simply presumed she was my best friend, and she’s right. Among all the cats I’ve lived with, most of whom were friendly and curious, Cookie was the only one who would not only enjoy her time in a situation like this, but would stay with me rather than running off to explore unseen corners or possibly even running out the door. I was Cookie’s first priority, and she’d never leave me unprotected!

tortoiseshell cat in shop window
“I’m not an antique!”

I took her to the shop with me at least once each month through 2011 except the cold winter months. I moved out of the room in March 2012, but will always have the memories of Cookie with me on those days. We can never create too many memories, and for those of you who have joined me since February 2012 when I lost Cookie, I’m so glad to be able to share her with you in this way. Some day this little adventure will be an illustrated book, but for now the photos are fun enough.

You can read more of Cookie’s adventures in the shop by clicking on the photo at right, or in the post “Move Over IKEA Cats, Cookie’s Back in the Shop” and other posts linked there.

You can read about my shop in Portraits of Animals Has Set Up Shop. Though I no longer have a shop you can read about my merchandise on my Portraits of Animals Marketplace blog which I’d set up as the complement to promote that shop and still maintain it to promote my Etsy shop.

And as always, if you’d like to read more about artwork as I develop it, about my current portraits and at assignments and even historic portraits and paintings, each week I feature a piece of artwork on Wednesday and a new product on Thursday. Choose the category for Featured Artwork or Marketplace.

. . . . . . .

watercolor portrait of cat on rocker in victorian room
Holly on the Rocker, watercolor, 8″ x 12″, 2008 © B.E. Kazmarski

About Judi and Carnegie Antiques

You can also visit Carnegie Antiques at 423 West Main Street, Carnegie, PA 15106. Judi is a real cat person, one of the “best people” I’ve met along the way. She and Don have had as many as seven cats and now have five; I believe their entire household has changed over since I’ve known them. Cat number 5 is Allie, so named because this lovely long-haired gray and white tuxedo kitty lived in the alley behind the shop and Judi and Don had seen her nearly be hit by a car too often, not to mention that she always ran to give them an enthusiastic and affectionate greeting. So they took her home. Allie knew exactly what she was doing, as cats seem to do when they target someone as a potential home. Visit Judi’s website and read about antiques, vintage items, estate sales and appraisals.

If you’d like to read more about artwork as I develop it, about my current portraits and at assignments and even historic portraits and paintings, each week I feature a piece of artwork on Wednesday and a new product on Thursday. Choose the category for featured artwork.

Find out about events and festivals where you can find me and my work.

Sign up for my e-newsletter (below), check the widget on the sidebar on my home page, or sign up to receive posts on Portraits of Animals Marketplace. I plan on plenty of events this coming summer in the Pittsburgh area.

Here’s where I’ll be in the month of June:

SATURDAY JUNE 7: Cecil Friends of the Montour Trail Tails for Trails X, Kurnick (National) Access Area at 259 Cecil Henderson Road in Cecil Twp. 8:30 to noon Click here to read more.
FRIDAY JUNE 13: See me at the Carnegie Crawl from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Click here to read more.
SATURDAY JUNE 21: 11th Annual Pet Adoption and Care Fair, Christ United Methodist Church, 9:30 to 2:30.
SATURDAY JUNE 28: Steel City Pet Expo, David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, 10am to 6pm

. . . . . . .

Once a week on Thursday I feature something new in my “shop”, whether that’s here on The Creative Cat, in my Etsy shop, on my main website or even at one of the bricks and mortar shops that carry my work.

Subscribe to The Creative Cat e-newsletter for specials on exclusively feline-themed art and merchandise.

Browse some rescued cats and kittens!

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile 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.

© 2014 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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!




From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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