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From the Archives: Basil and Bella, BFFs as Kittens, 2014

two black kittens
Basil and Bella in December 2014 at 8 and 10 months old.

Look at those two! I took this photo on December 17, 2014 when (then Smokie) Basil and Bella had integrated into the household. Basil was about eight months old and Bella was about 10 months old. Basil was still a little easily frightened but overall comfortable with all the other cats and the entire house—and me. Bella still wasn’t sure about me or anyone else, but she always gave it a try.

Just as a refresher, they aren’t at all related, nor did they come into foster together. Basil had been here for about three weeks and I was slowly integrating him to the space, but Bella, two months older, had been fostered with someone else then gone out to a PetSmart for adoption. She didn’t do well there and was looking for another place to foster. They thought she was the same age as Basil but she turned out to be a little older, and that turned out okay for these two. Basil and Bella bonded instantly, and to this day still check in with each other. You can read more about them here.

But they were so close at that time that, like here, they sometimes made the same movements. I don’t know about you but I love looking back at my cats’ “younger” pictures, sometimes baby pictures but many came in as adults, so just when they were younger. Below, I included the post from December 29, 2014 that has other photos of them as well as Bert and Ernie, my two fosters who were still in the bathroom at that time.

I’ve been looking through older digital photos looking for references for paintings I’m planning to start in January. I have so many photos of all the cats that I’ve never used. One of these days I’ll resume my weekend posting and my Saturday feature of photos “From the Archives,” but until then you’ll be seeing photos now and then on weekdays or other stories like Tuesday’s rescue story about the Weed Wacker Kittens. And maybe as a piece of artwork too…

Daily Photo: More Progress for Bert and Ernie, and Smokie and Bella

From December 29, 2014

woman feeding treats to two cats
Margo with Bert and Ernie.

This was just too exciting. After Bert and Ernie met Debby Saturday and weren’t traumatized afterward, I knew we were moving forward. Today they saw a customer of mine who’d stopped in to talk about his dogs’ portrait and as we headed to the studio we peeked in on them. They just looked wary but didn’t scramble to hide. Then a few hours later Margo stopped over and I wasn’t sure how they’d feel with yet another stranger—you can move too fast in these situations, and everything goes backward.

But they didn’t hide and first I stepped in the bathroom, put the flower essence on my hands and Margo’s, then we decided she should step in. We calmed Bert and Ernie and convinced Ernie to come out of the tub to get treats, and eventually they were both sitting right in front of her as she put treats right in their mouths. They played for a while as we sat and talked as well.

Once they start the change, it’s really fast! I’m so proud of them! It’s hard to watch animals be so frightened and know they are having a hard time with their decision. They will only go as far as they feel comfortable, and with foster we never know how far that will be.

To see more about Bert and Ernie, click here for posts about Bert and here for posts about Ernie.

Smokie and Bella have made a few big leaps this week as well. They also saw my art customer this afternoon, and this was their response.

two black cats on bed
Smokie and Bella in their afternoon nap spots.

Two weeks ago they would both have scrambled under the bed to hide when strange footsteps and an unfamiliar voice came up the stairs. Today, they yawned and went back to their nap. When Margo stopped by they were still napping and she went in to pet them both—along with the required pets for Mr. Sunshine and Giuseppe who wondered why all this attention for kittens.

woman petting cats
Margo pets Smokie while Mr. Sunshine stays close.

Four frightened kittens…what would have been their fate? What is the fate of so many kittens and cats living outdoors or even rescued from the outdoors? Foster and socialize, it saves lives, I can’t stress it enough.

. . . . . . .

What other photos did I share on or about this date?

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Paper Towel Artist, 2013
black cat with paper towels
Mr. Sunshine guards his new project.

I walked in the kitchen to see Mr. Sunshine guarding his latest work, not because he knew he shouldn’t be shredding a roll of paper towels—not Mr. Sunshine, he does as he pleases! He didn’t want me to look at it yet because he considers it unfinished.

Mewsette is not the only conceptual artist in our family. In addition to his talents with tools and engineering, Mr. Sunshine occasionally creates a work in paper towels. He continued working on it, and I snuck a look at his progress as he stood back and assessed his progress.

black cat with paper towels
Mr. Sunshine assesses his next moves on his latest work.

Later, after he was pleased and had spent a good bit of the afternoon on my lap as my afternoon supervisor, I stole a glance into the kitchen to see how the new work was coming along. He’d incorporated a throw rug and a few household objects into it. I think it’s magnificent!

shredded paper towels
Mr. Sunshine’s latest work.

Mr. Sunshine has a lot of energy and very physical with the other cats, me, and the rest of daily life around the house. He wrestles with his brothers and runs up and down the steps to burn off some energy, and plays with lots of toys, but every once in a while he really needs to beat the crap out of something or he gets a little too rough, especially with Mewsette, who does not wrestle like her brothers do. I play with him, waving feather toys and tossing things for him to catch and clipping his favorite toys, wooden clothespins, on things around the kitchen—they are made of soft wood and he can dig both teeth and claws into them and he finds it very satisfying.

I’ve tried every larger toy I can find, made a few, and he also has things to climb and jump onto, but nothing works so well as destroying a roll of paper towels on the floor. After he’d done this a time or two I noticed he wasn’t so rough with his family and started leaving a roll of paper towel out for him now and then. This last time I had stashed one atop a box under the table and he managed to find it and pull it down, and create this truly creative work out of wrapping himself around it, biting and kicking it. He’s very happy. I don’t mind having a spare roll on hand for him if that’s what works best.

. . . . . . .

Brother See, Brother Do, 2012
three black cats in drawer
Brother See, Brother Do

Jelly Bean thought he was clever in finding his “secret bed” and crawling into it whenever I put away the dishtowels, but his brothers found him out!

Now Mr. Sunshine is walking all over him trying to find a spot to settle down—which might just be right on top of Bean—and Giuseppe is trying to figure out how to get in on the deal. I am concerned about the integrity of the handmade vintage drawer, probably made better than anything I could afford to buy for my kitchen today but still not something I want to see falling apart at the corners and ending up in parts and towels on the floor.

Sunshine decided he’d try another direction and jumped down. Neither he nor Giuseppe managed to get into the drawer with Bean, who grew tired of their attempts and got up on the cabinet, and I quickly tossed my towels in and shut the drawer. That’s the end of that for another week, until I wash the dishtowels again.


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Basil and Bella in an award-winning daily sketch

ink sketch of two cats around curtain
“One L-o-o-o-ng Kitty”, ink hybrid technical pen, 9″ x 5.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Read more about this sketch, and the award it won! Read more.



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Bernadette

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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