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Vintage Photo: Early Housepanther Wrestling Match, 1984

two black cats
The challenge.

Kublai gets the upper paw in a wrestling match with his buddy, my roommate’s cat, Puck. My first attempt at photographing studio wrestling among housepanthers, sometime early in 1984 with black and white film and my Pentax K1000. Kublai is the one wearing the collar, which had a little bell on it so I knew where he was, back in the days when I let him outdoors.

Puck lorded his leadership over Kublai and everything else in his realm and Kublai pretty much put up with being swatted into submission for his first few years. At some point around this time Kublai realized that he was bigger and stronger and smarter than most beings on earth, and put up a defense, much to Puck’s surprise. The wrestling matches were about equal after that, though one or another of them got serious about it now and then and the fur literally flew. Learning to focus on action as quick as this was really difficult, especially when I might not see the resulting photos for months! But it’s fun to remember these two, Kublai about four years old and Puck about five.


two black cats
The battle.

I can almost remember this Sunday morning (judging from a few other photos mingled in with these) in the kitchen of that apartment, sunny but totally snow-covered and very cold outside. Around this time, or possibly concurrent judging from the light, I got my first roll of color film and that, of course, includes cats, and specifically the reference photo for this painting, “Sunbath”. One of my first “real” watercolors, it’s Kublai bathing in that angled sunlight in front of those cabinet doors on that Mediterranean-patterned carpet, his little leather collar with the bell around his neck.

watercolor of cat having bath
“Sunbath”, watercolor, 1993, 21″ x 14 • Bernadette E. Kazmarski


Vintage Photos from Other Years

Fawn and Nikka, 1997

torbie and dilute tortoiseshell cats
Fawn and Nikka, actually touching!

Fawn and Nikka were mentioned in my rescue story “Cast Away” as two cats who shared the house with me at the time I’d rescued Sasha. This photo of the two was in the folder of photos of Sasha, and I thought I’d share this one-time happening.

These two were sisters, born in My First Litter. Fawn, at the top, is the subject of “my first painting”, “the portrait that started it all”, “Waiting for Mom”. Nikka, at the bottom, is the subject of my rescue story, “Coming Back Home”.

Fawn, a “torbie” or tortoiseshell tabby stayed with me when all the rest of the litter had been adopted, including their mom. She had very clear stripes all over, but some were orange and some were black. Her paws were marbled, and she had two orange stripes at the end of her tail that were always signaling something, waving for happiness or twitching like a rattlesnake for tortitude. You can also read more about her in “The Balloon”. Fawn did have some tortitude, but she was all talk. She was the little sister of everyone and loved it until I moved here and Sophie and Cookie came along.

Below, her dilute tortoiseshell sister Nikka was not to be taken for less than her sister Fawn. Nikka was adopted, then I took her back at age 5. Nikka was friendly and playful and silly, but she was also a bully; the cat who she’d lived with suffered from urinary issues and was constantly ill and underweight until the two moved apart and he was like a totally, totally new cat. Unfortunately, Nikka chose Fawn as her target and literally stalked her and terrorized her often enough to keep Fawn worried. Then at other times they slept near each other like this, actually touching! This is the only photo I have of this event.

Both of them were absolutely beautiful and helped give me my lifelong love of tri-color cats; Nikka was the original diluted kitty who made me love them all.


See more Vintage Photos, scanned from prints on film through the years and digital photos From the Archives which were never featured here.

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greeting card
“A Sunny Room” greeting card, by request.

This photograph was taken in 1983, when I first got my camera and began photographing with black and white film. Kublai, the kitty who rescued me in college and truly began my life as an animal artist, was only about two years old. Read more and purchase.


All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals 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.

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© 2022 | | 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.

4 thoughts on “Vintage Photo: Early Housepanther Wrestling Match, 1984

    • Thank you, Lola! I was so new to watercolor at the time I thought I was nuts to have started it, but I stayed with it and learned so much. And I love preserving that moment.

  • In “Sunbath”, you’ve captured the colors of black cat fur that glow in the direct light!

    • That was a big part of the excitement of painting this scene. I loved the long shadows, the sharp highlights and reflections on the chrome handle, and the colors reflected from the carpet. But seeing the light in and on Kublai’s fur, being able to study it like that, was a real eye-opener for me. I’d always seen the mahogany in his fur, but suddenly I saw how it was organized.


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