Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Vintage Photo: When I Was Owned By Four Torties, June, 1998

My four torties, 1998.
My four torties, 1998.

I am known for housepanthers now, but there was a time when I had not one housepanther, but was owned and managed by four tortoiseshell girls. Three of these photos were on the same roll as the photos I used last week for Kelly’s Morning Bath, the one of Fawn on the rocker was in an envelope next to it. I was so happy to see all four tortie girls lounging about on a warm spring day, sleeping in their favorite positions in their favorite spots. I remember those long lazy days, most likely a weekend since I was still working my day job. I so loved being with them, working on a weekend project, usually a portrait or other piece of artwork, in my quiet house, and tiptoeing around to peek at each of the cats as they slept. Of course, in addition to the tortie girls, were Stanley, Sally, Moses, Namir and Sophie, who aren’t anywhere on this roll. I guess I was focused on the torties that day.

Cookie on the credenza.
Cookie on the credenza.

Of course, Cookie-roo was airing out her tortie belly by the front door, hoping to catch a cool breeze I suppose. She was always ready where anyone could find her and pet her.

Kelly in the basket.
Kelly in the basket.

Kelly was in the basket on the throw on the patterned carpet on the floor in the same room as Cookie, and also likely to get a breeze from the door, and deep in sleep. Kelly was not such an exhibitionist and always started out sleeping in conservative positions, becoming more and more tangled and twisted as she fell deeper into sleep, but she usually found a patterned background to sleep on so she’d be camouflaged, I guess.

At this point Cookie and Kelly hadn’t formed their alliance. Kelly joined us as an adult with Namir in 1996 and she was still sort of integrating with the household. She’d been a feral cat or a traumatized stray who’d been trapped with a feral colony and brought in with kittens. She was adopted as a companion to Namir because she was on the euthanasia list for temperament after a long time in the shelter, and her adopter felt she could provide a quiet home for her, and she did. Kelly did not take to change quickly, and she had relaxed in her three years with us but was still timid and skittish. Cookie joined us as an older kitten in 1992 and was one of the most confident and social cats I’ve ever known. They became close friends after Namir died in 2009 and died in the same year, 2012.

Fawn on the rocker.
Fawn on the rocker.

Fawn was upstairs on the rocker in the corner of my studio, getting a bit of morning sun from the window on the landing. She loved rolling around on this rocker, and talking, as she is here. Fawn was technically a “torbie”, a tortoiseshell tabby, which I had never ever seen before she was born in my spare bedroom in 1988. She was tiny and sassy and always had something to say, and she only liked me. She was the baby of the family until Cookie came along, and I don’t think she ever forgave me for that.

Nikka on the bed.
Nikka on the bed.

Nikka found a great, quiet, cool spot under the ceiling fan in my bedroom. When she napped she was usually with other cats and usually near me, but for a serious afternoon sleep she found a quiet secluded spot. I don’t know how secluded the bed remained on a day like this, but she is pretty relaxed and happy here. I do know it’s likely that I used my zoom lens to photograph her, because if I came anywhere near her she rolled over on her back for a belly rub. She is the cat who instituted my love of dilute kitties.

Fawn and Nikka were sisters. They were born to “My First Litter” in 1988. Fawn was not adopted and stayed with me, but Nikka was adopted by my brother and his girlfriend. I brought Nikka back home in 1993, another thing that likely unnerved Fawn. Nikka was very affectionate and friendly with everyone everywhere, but with cats was a bossy cat, a bully in fact. The cat she’d lived with, who went with my brother’s girlfriend when they broke up, seemed timid and suffered from male urinary disease. When he was no longer living with Nikka, he was a totally different cat. So she tried the same techniques on this household, but that didn’t go over well, and I swear she intentionally stalked Fawn. She ended up spending time outs in the studio, and trying out some different medications like Valium to keep her from trying to bully the other cats. I now understand her behavior much better, but at the time I had few resources for a cat like her. We lost Fawn in 1999 from lymphoma and Nikka in 2003 from acute renal failure.

Remembering those days is sweet, all the cats who shared my life for decades, now gone, and me so much younger and with so much to learn.

Photos From the Archives and Vintage Photos

Photos pulled “From the Archives” were taken by one or another digital camera of mine between 2002 and, well, yesterday, but usually they are older than that, and I had never had the chance to feature them. Vintage Photos are from my film archives back to 1983 when I purchased my Pentax K-1000 camera. They’re a fun way to “introduce” other members of my feline family who came and went before I began blogging, and to illustrate my feline family in general from days gone by.

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Fine ArtPhotographyGiftsGreeting CardsBooksCommissioned Portraits & Artwork

The Tortie Girls set.
The Tortie Girls set.

These two tortoiseshell cats are Cookie and Kelly, both rescued and fostered, but who ended up staying with me for most of their long lives. They were both inspirations for many works through the years, but this set of linoleum block prints is actually my favorite depiction of them. 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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Weekly schedule of features:

Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life

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Tuesday: Rescue Stories

Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork

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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.

6 thoughts on “Vintage Photo: When I Was Owned By Four Torties, June, 1998

  • We wish we had more photos of the previous cats but the Dad was a troglodyte. Thanks for the beautiful history

    • Our mom was a “budding photographer”, whatever that is, and used her cats as models, mostly against their will! Don’t you think their descendants should be paid some special foods in return? We know she’s glad to see her kitties again, though.

  • da tabbies o trout towne

    This is almost…..ALMOST…like a completely different house 🙂 best not let mimi and the ninja’s
    read this 😉 ♥♥

    • They moved in on the tail end of it! Cookie, Kelly, Namir and Peaches were the only ones left after I lost so many in one year. Mimi loved her fur siblings immediately, and stayed with them until each of them passed, and she taught her kids respect for their elders too. It was very different for me!

  • I grew up as a cat lover. It was not until I was on my own and saw a fluffy black cat sitting on a pumpkin of a calendar(October) that I was hooked. I got a very floofy black cat, then,when he passed I got Mickey.
    I inherited Tillie and rescued Julie.
    I still love all cats,but tend to love black cats more(ish) 😉
    Nancy and the kitties-Julie,Georgia and JJ

    • My first black cat Kublai rescued me. But Cookie was so full of love after we lost him that she rescued me too. Sorry human that I am.


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