Art / Cats / Drawing


In the past few months I’ve been watching the live webcam of the Critter Room on a regular basis. John Bartlett, or Foster Dad John, as we call him, volunteers at Purrfect Pals, a no-kill cat shelter in the USA. He takes care of litters that have been brought in, to help socialize the kittens (and the momma’s as well). I’ve been watching his cam since the Mythbusters Fosters, about one and a half years ago, and got attached to all of the cats that I’ve seen growing up. A new, and very nice development is that the cats, who are basically celebrities once they get adopted, usually get a Facebook page on which their furrever guardians post updates about how they’re doing. Every morning I have a series of cat posts to read, a great way to start the day!

Since about two months, John has had a very special litter: the Fabulous Fosters. These kittens were brought in from a farm where they had been dumped, and there were some complications as well. The mother and two of the siblings tested positive for feline leukemia, the other three kittens seemed fine. The healthy cats were separated from the sick cats, and John ended up with the three healthy ones: George, Neil (both gingers) and Ellen (a diluted tortoiseshell – or tortie, for short). A while later Lily (another tortie) was added, she came from a different litter and was caught on the same farm. After some hissy fits and growls she was accepted and became part of the group. Torties are known for having more attitude than the average cat, which may be a myth, but in this case, the problem was clearly with the torties.

After one month, there was a second test for feline leukemia (it can be shedded sometimes) and the mom turned out to be negative. Great! Liberty Bell (or Libby for short, another tortie) is a very friendly, social cat, and would be a great help in socializing the kittens, of which George was the only one who really interacted with humans so far. However, poor Neil turned out to be positive, and had to be separated from the rest. The two kittens that first tested positive now tested negative, and would rejoin the rest. Libby (the mom) and Parker (another ginger) and Luna (another tortie) arrived shortly. Again there were hissy fits and lots, lots of growls from Ellen (yep, little miss McGrowlypants, as the viewers started to call her), but after a while (and some not-so-subtle corrections from Libby) all the kittens accepted Libby as their mom, and the whole group became very harmonious. Despite the fact that there were now four torties in one room!

John has been working very hard to get all the kittens socialized. There were some setbacks, like the medicine he had to administer when some of the cats had lungworms. Their tiny little trust evaporated and he had to almost start over with the girls. Treats and playtime work miracles, though. George, Parker and Libby are now doing great and are more than ready for adoption. Ellen is almost there, and so is little Lily. Luna, however, is still very much afraid, and she will probably have to go to the prison program, for 24/7 one on one interaction with a human.

It has been fascinating to watch the development of the cats, and I’ve grown quite attached to them all, also because they’ve been in the Critter Room far longer than any previous litter I’ve watched. I’m rooting for the girls, they are still so quickly frightened, and little Luna reminds me of my cat Fiona – quite skittish, and possibly a great, great companion once you’ve gained her trust.

Next weekend the boys and mom will be at the adoption event, and John will continue working with the girls for a while. Without mom for affection and the boys jumping around them at playtime, it should be easier to establish interaction with them, and they may turn to John for attention and safety if he plays it well. Perhaps Luna won’t have to go to prison. She is on the waiting list, though.

Two nights ago, I started drawing Freya, who was lying on a stool, but it was so dark that it didn’t really work (my paper was illuminated by my lamp, but Freya wasn’t). I stopped because it didn’t work and my inspiration was not coming, but today I recycled that beginning of a drawing. I decided that it wasn’t Freya after all, it was Libby, who was dreaming about a nice, spacious furrever home, where she could relax and have fun. Then it came to me: actually it is all the Fabulous torties combined. They were so afraid and lost, they all deserve some peace and quiet, and from that thought, this drawing was born. The right kind of tortitude.


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