“I’m a dog person; I have cats because I love to travel. You see, I need to be able to leave them for a few days at a time, on a moment’s notice, without needing a cat sitter to check in,” I’ve explained, somewhat defensively.
Well, I call “Bullsh*t.”
Yes, on myself.
My recent behavior – including recent activities and adventures around town – speak to a love of these furry friends that borders on. . . well, obsession. My own cats, ButterCup, ButterBean, and Jeff, have a special place in my heart, of course. (Do I own them or do they own me, the house, the many catnip toys, 99% of my hair ties, our new heated blanket, 2/3 of the bed. . . ?) I’m often tempted to bring more fur babies into my life. Then I remember we’re already outnumbered; we can’t get crazy around here!
So, what’s the (further) evidence that I’m really a cat person? Keep reading!
- Attendance at The Amazing Cat Show, at 400 W. Rich, in downtown Columbus, Oho
- Checking out Kitty Bubble Café & Bar, newly opened in Clitonville, Ohio, just at the top of my street
- Regular donations to a Blacky the Cat Sanctuary of Hope, always in need of assistance
- Cat art, cat sweatshirts, cat ornaments, cat videos, cat greeting cards, and cat books
- An occasional cat post on social media; okay, okay – I post cats on a regular basis — in my defense, I have refrained from starting their own page, but ‘The Adventures of the ButterTwins’ has made it into this blog
How did this happen? I’ve always been an “animal person” and as a child it was my dream to become a vet one day. I shelved that idea when I fell in love with language, storytelling, reading, and investigative journalism. My academic pursuits took me down a different path, but when I made yet another career shift, into the world of portrait photography my favorite sessions to photograph were families with a pack of dogs, a baby holding a puppy, high school seniors with their dogs, “a boy and his dog,” and, well, dogs!
While others were failing to make eye contact, in hopes that someone else would take the session with the dog, I was raising my hand. You could hardly keep me away from the camera room. Were I ever to have my own studio, or work again as a professional photographer, it would be for the love of dogs! You just can’t get mad at them, when they don’t do exactly what you ask of them. Much like a 2-year-old they have no earthly idea of why you want them to “Sit there!” or “Look this way!” or “Stop chewing and drooling on that teddy bear!”
So, I’m a dog person, right? I just happen to be a lover of dogs who caters to the whims of three cats and frequents all the neighborhood cat haunts.
For a long while I used to get away with that answer. . . and then I visited The Amazing Cat Show. It’s hard to describe this gathering of cat lovers, drawn to an old warehouse turned art complex to admire cat-themed art in all mediums, submitted by artists of all levels, abilities, interests, and visions. So many cats; so much great art! I’d sold some cat photographs there myself, in past years, but this year I was there to admire the beautiful cats and the talented artists. I personally know a few of them!
“The Amazing Cat Show is back at 400 West Rich! This show is benefitting the Cat Welfare Association. This special, furry friend-themed gallery debuts on Franklinton Friday at 400 West Rich January 13th  from 6-10pm. While you’re here visit over 100 artist studios” (January Franklinton Friday Facebook event page)
It was near impossible to leave the show without a piece of art, so I took home two. The cats at home seemed impressed — well, at least the girls did. Jeff seemed puzzled by the fact that there was no “tuxedo cat” art. Columbus is a city that loves cats, it seems. The event was well-attended, and I’ve heard a rumor that the art that didn’t sell that night might be available at the next monthly event in this amazing space — something of a smaller, more intimate “Kitten Show.” I may have to return. . . Jeff was not pleased with the artwork I selected.
As further evidence, consider that time I went to an actual pure-bread cat show – they don’t let you hold the cats, so I never went back! You’ll more likely see me at Cat Welfare, where the ButterTwins became a part of my family, as teeny tiny kittens. I remember going to the shelter “just to look” and going home without ButterCup (then known as ButterCream) and ButterBean. They were the last two of six littermates at the shelter, all with Butter names.
As soon as I got home without a cat, however, I knew what a big mistake I’d made. I was there the next morning, before the shelter opened, to ensure I was first on the premises, ready to adopt the twins. Sadly, I was not the first. Fortunately the other visitors were there to claim other cats they had previously gone home without, returning first thing the next morning, with their regrets and their pocketbooks. Adoption complete! Money well-spent!
I’m now known, in my professional circles, as a cat person. My colleagues see more photos of our three cats than I see of their human children. They haven’t complained (to me) and the cat antics seem to make them laugh. At the end of my management of a 2-year cohort-based program, the participants gifted me with adorable cat-themed items – cat figurines, cards, an ornament – and one even made a donation to a cat shelter in my name.
My work Secret Snowman sent me a package full of products that were crafted in her part of the country (Iowa) AND she went to the effort of checking out the geography surrounding my home and sending me a gift card to the Kitty Bubble Café & Bar I mentioned earlier. It recently opened at the top of my street, but I had not yet made time to visit – can you believe that??
The place was so busy, just before the Christmas holiday, that we weren’t able to get into the cat room without a reservation. Instead we bought drinks from the café and settled in to watch other visitors interact with the cats, all of which were available for adoption. I sipped a maccha green tea drink and peered into the cat room through bubble window cutouts. On the other side were sling-style beds the cats could lay in, to encourage them to take a nap right there in the window.
I half expected to be tapped on the shoulder by Hello Kitty, at any moment. The place was pink; the place was cute; the place was a cat’s dream of a playground, with so many areas to jump, climb, scratch, pounce, and roll around, under the influence of catnip. It was a delight, and I have an excuse to go back, to use the rest of the gift card for a hands-on visit with the cats. I returned home with catnip bubbles – yes, bubbles. They were a hit with the cats and a lot of fun for me.
My boy Jeff, who I have not said as much about, is a former street cat turned lover boy. You’d never know how much street cred he has, by observing him rolling on his back to show his belly, grooming constantly, and mewing for attention, forever wanting to be picked up, but only by a select few humans.
Jeff was brought into our lives by one of the kindest, most giving and selfless people I know.
Jose Bastidas runs Blacky the Cat Sanctuary of Hope, where we make regular donations to support his work sheltering, feeding, spaying / neutering, and caring for the health of cats living on the streets in the Franklinton area of Columbus, Ohio. That used to describe Jeff, or Muneco, as Jose calls him. Muneco is Spanish for “toy doll,” “sweetie,” “puppet,” or “cuddly or soft toy.” The name is fitting. Jeff is our adorable stuffed animal, come to life. He speaks in dainty mews, is sleek and soft, and flops on my shoulder, when I dance with him to pop music, or against my hip while I sleep, when he wants my attention in the early morning.
Okay, I’ll just admit it — I’m a cat person.
In addition to caring for felines who just want a little love, Jose is a talented painter, chalk and digital artist, and muralist. One of his star subjects? You guessed it, cats. Check out his work, here on Facebook and in action, as he draws, here. He writes “I started creating my Cat Blacky portrait in his memory, drawing on paper, got inspire from him and all the abandoned cats that struggle for foods and love.”
One day I hope to commission paintings of ButterCup, ButterBean, and Jeff. I personally know at least 5 artists I could contract to complete this project. If I had a larger home I might invite all of them to paint my fur babies, in different styles, infused with their personalities, and in varied scales. What an amazing collection that would make. It would be a fine gallery! It’s something to consider. I’ll be sure to let my readers know, if this ever becomes a reality.
Dog person – Ha!
Join me on my next adventure,
Creating Blacky the Cat Whisperer by Jose Bastidas Fineart