My entire feline family at the moment on June 12, 2007, clockwise from top: Lucy, Cookie, Peaches, Mr. Peach, Namir and Kelly. Only seven years ago, and the styles were completely different.
I have a few of these through the years, all the cats in the household gathered together. It happened pretty frequently, but oddly enough I rarely photographed it. I think my mind was more on portrait images of my cats and not those including my crowded little house with its difficult dark areas. But up on the bed, that’s another thing. These group photos are rare and treasured, and reminds me what wonderful groups of cats I’ve lived with all through the years.
I took these right around 11:00 p.m. and I’m not sure why but all but Lucy happened to be there when I went upstairs. Of course I had my camera, and Lucy followed me. I took a few photos from the door with just the bedside lamp lit, and then when I went in and turned on more lights Lucy jumped up on the bed with them. I’m not sure she liked what she saw, judging by this photo—these five felines, her mentors, what a sorry, lazy lot!
Actually, Lucy was quite ill at the time. We’d been two months just keeping her comfortable after her diagnosis of effusive FIP and she was losing a little ground all the time, but slowly. She was just a year old but was thin, her front legs were shaved from blood testing and she was no longer the vibrant kitten she had been but still loved to be with me and with her fur siblings. She had about a month left, but we didn’t know that and paid no attention to any deadlines.
To put this briefly in perspective of where my household was at this moment, in March that year the big orange Mr. Peach joined us; one of his humans was having an issue with allergies and I agreed to foster him temporarily so they could clean the house and let a little time pass to see if it was a developing cat allergy. I would keep him with a stipend if it had been, but it was not, and they took Mr. Peach back just a week or two after this photo was taken.
I lost Stanley at age 25 in January that year, and Sophie previous November, 2006. Lucy had joined us in June the previous year, I lost Peaches’ sister Cream in March 2006 and Moses in February 2006.
We lost Lucy July 10, and for three weeks I had only four cats, Peaches, Cookie, Kelly and Namir. It was indeed very strange and quiet, but Mimi and the Four little beans joined us on on July 29. It was a time of deep change, and love and grief, but I remember only the sweetness. Not one of these cats is with me now. I’m so glad I have this photo to remember this moment.
I will add that most of the photos I took were too blurry to use, and it was one of my deciding factors to get a good DSLR, and I purchased my Pentax in October that year.
A few vignettes from the collection:
Mr. Peach, or Monsieur le Peche—this was he only clear photo from this set!
Namir, a pile of tangled legs.
Kelly, always near Namir, and with her tail resting on Mr. Peach, ever the little sister with her fur brothers, in fact Kelly loved being surrounded by all of her feline family.
Cookie. In one of the blurry photos she is looking at me, which is soooo Cookie in a situation like this, and in another she had rolled over on her back in the infamous “goddess” pose.
Peaches, just a little loaf. It’s funny how cats have individual mannerisms for common positions—she never curled both front paws under symmetrically, but always had the left just underneath and the right wrapped across the front.
I don’t have a good photo of Lucy from this set because, of course, she’s black and difficult to photograph in challenging light! Another rationale for a DSLR, especially once I suddenly had five black cats a short while later, and aware of the value of capturing as many good shots as possible. I was careful with my photos of Lucy anyway because she could look very gaunt and ill. I documented that, but also felt I’d been cheated out of a lifetime of photographing my lithe little house panther so I carefully took photos that were what she possibly would have looked like in the future. I photographed her daily. She loved this pink and gray and white throw rug which I’d always had on the concrete basement floor for Moses who liked to like in the sun from the window in the basement door. Lucy was diagnosed at about the time the sun came in the window in earnest, and then later when I opened the door each day so the cats could enjoy the sun and air through the screen, Lucy spent time in her sunbath each day on this rug. I have so many photos of her; each set is different, recently I found some long lost black and white film prints that are haunting in the intentional distortions I’d made with lenses and filters, but I will share them some time. For now, here is “Lucy on her beach towel” earlier that day.
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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: Bok 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!