Every day is Hug Your Cat Day here, and I’m sure it is in your home too, if your kitty is of the mind for it. Here is a photo of Mimi and me from 2015. Below are photos from previous years.
Self-portrait With Kublai for Hug Your Cat Day
This is Kublai, the cat who loved hugs, who gave hugs to everyone he met, and taught me to love hugs too! His favorite pastime was to leap up and throw his arms around my neck and bury his face in my hair, even when he was a tiny former barn kitten. Now that’s a cat hug. And a cat I’ll never forget.
This image may look familiar. My profile image on Facebook, LinkedIn and a few other places, it’s a charcoal a sketch of me holding Kublai, called, not surprisingly, “Self-portrait with Kublai”. I sketched it when I participated in an art exhibit with the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators in 2004 and needed an image of myself to include in the catalog; most of us either had or decided to do self-portraits.
As the summer wore on in the months before Kublai died, I had a friend take a few photos of us, and as Kublai was in the final stages of some wasting illness I was shocked at what he looked like in the photo. I decided that I liked the pose, but I’d paint him in the way I had been picturing him. I never got around to the painting and unfortunately didn’t have the time when the exhibit came up, but I quickly did a little sketch of us from one of the photographs for the show catalog. I think I probably like it better than a painting.
From August 9, 2018, when I introduced the little butterfly as a foster. I think she’s not sure what she got herself into.
“I’m showing a photo of me holding this beautiful little kitty because that in itself is a small miracle. Mariposa is one of the adult cats we trapped at the abandoned house in Carnegie. I’ll be fostering her for adoption, and in the week she’s been here she’s really turned around her behavior and also given me quite the puzzle to figure out regarding her reactions to her circumstances and how to help her feel safe and secure as a former feral cat. But we’re good now, and getting better each day.”
Hug Your Cat Day With Charm
Today is hug your cat day, and while that’s something I do every day I had something special planned for today: Since the kittens will be leaving soon I was going to hold all of them, somehow, and have a group photo. But I forgot!
But I remembered these photos I’d taken of Charm and me just days after she came here to show what a nice kitty she was. Charm is technically not my cat, but while she’s here as my foster she’s the next best thing to being mine, and what better thing could I do to promote her adoption than show everyone what a nice cat she is? Here she’d been pretty neglected for a few years and then outright abandoned, but we grabbed her and her kittens for no apparent reason (to her) and I, a total stranger until a few days before, stuffed them all into my little bathroom, and some cats outside the door were not afraid to hide their disapproval.
And yet I picked her up and laid her on my shoulder and chest and leaned back a bit, and she stayed there, relaxed, cheek to cheek with me, and looked in the mirror like a good girl.
And of course I have to take several photos. The funny part is how her expression changes through the course of the photos—read the captions. What a good girl!
Of course, Mimi
And just so the boss doesn’t get mad at me, here’s a couple of photos of us from previous years.
Am I going a little overboard with this? I don’t think so—I actually hug my cats frequently enough, not so much they are uncomfortable but enough that they know, if they just put up with me for a few seconds, it will all be over. It’s just something humans seem to have to do, just like Mewsette has to lick my nose and Sunshine has to gnaw on my knuckles and each of them has their little affectionate habit, I will now and then pick up one of my cats and hug them. Aside from that, I really don’t pick them up very often at all, although they walk and lie all over me and all over what I’m doing.
But Mimi, now, I hug Mimi at least once a day, and she acts annoyed and tries to harden herself against it, but she is purring the entire time. In the photo above, she’s rubbing her face all over my camera, my little feline model who knows the camera is her friend, and she’s kneading my arm.
Below, I took these photos in the bathroom mirror, and it was so hard to line up me and Mimi and the camera, so I had a lot of them. I thought Mimi looked pretty sweet here. It was grainy to begin with, so it reminded me of one of those photos of a little girl—ha, me!—and her cat. But sometimes that’s the way I feel with my cats, just as I did when I really was a little girl with my first cat, and I hope I feel that way with all my cats.
Wouldn’t you adopt her if you had a chance? Remember, Mimi is not a kitten—she is about nine years old, and she didn’t come to me until she was at least three years old, so always give those adult kitties another look.
And because this is my month to celebrate tortie girls I’ve also got to add my former boss and me.
Yes, hugging Cookie and giving her a scratch on the chin, just the way she liked it!
In August 2011 when I was promoting Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an article in the South/West edition about me and my artwork, Carnegie Artist Creates Calendar of Cats. I’m in my local paper often enough, but not often in the Pittsburgh paper, and never with a photo! I had plenty of cats with me that morning last September, especially Cookie, of course. Cookie was always with me anywhere I was in the house and would naturally be with me in my studio, and she was also very social and loved greeting guests. She got herself up on my drafting table and work table and kept walking back and forth from me to the photographer, typical Cookie cuteness.
I knew where Cookie and I were headed in the next few months, and a photo of her and me in my studio would just be too precious; I am always the photographer so there are very few photos of me with my cats. Cookie always sat on my lap but never liked to be held but she doesn’t look too upset in this photo, just me and Cookie, and in the background the portrait of Georgie I was working on at the time.
The kids wandered in and out, but Mimi stayed, and while the photographer was leaning down to photograph Cookie and me, Mimi stood up with her paws on his shoulder as if she was looking into his viewfinder. Missed that photo, but we had a good laugh! A wonderful memory all around.
I checked back with the Post-Gazette and purchased permission on the photo. Here is how the photographer captioned the photo:
Vaughn Wallace/Post-Gazette: Bernadette E. Kazmarski is the author of the “Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book,” a desk calendar featuring her portraits of rescued cats. Kazmarski donates a portion of the proceeds to various animal rescue organizations. Photographed in her home studio on September 19, 2011, with her 19-year-old tortoiseshell, Cookie. PUBLISHED CAPTION: Vaughn Wallace/Post-Gazette: Bernadette Kazmarski, an animal portrait artist who created Great Rescues, a calendar that features portraits of cats, in her home studio in Carnegie with her 19-year-old cat, Cookie.
Photo of Bernadette with 19-year-old Cookie and portrait of Georgie, courtesy the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Copyright © Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2012, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
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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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