Cat Project Archives for December
12, 2016 - "Any conditioned cat-hater can be won over
by any cat who chooses to make the effort." - Paul
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: Sigourney Weaver and Jones the cat.
Mewvie: A Guide to Winter, from Simon's Cat
with cat and fish",
Gerritsz Cuyp, 1620.
Xmas shelter cat.
by Nara Schoenberg
Of all the cats in the shelter, the big orange tabby with the leaky left
eye just might have been the one least likely to get adopted.
While kittens frolicked and healthy cats snuggled with enraptured children,
the tabby lay in his bed, battling a chronic eye infection. He barely
raised his head when my son Calvin sent me over to say hello. The cat
had been in the shelter for four months, and even as Christmas approached — and
the pool of available cats dwindled — eager adopters were giving
this one a wide berth.
"What about him?" Calvin said.
I made counterproposals: How about a younger cat, one more inclined to
play? How about a bonded pair of cats? They could keep each other company.
That would mean two cats — one for Calvin and one for his brother!
Calvin, then 10, listened politely. But when Mr. Leaky Eyes somehow managed
to rouse himself, walk over to us and look up expectantly, tail raised
in friendly greeting, Calvin took it as a sign, and I had to admit, the
kid had a point. The big orange cat made beautiful eye contact. Viewed
from the right angle, his lopsided squint actually had a certain tough-guy
appeal. And, most of all, he had made a choice.
He seemed so very, very sure that he was our Christmas cat.
Three years later, the orange cat wouldn't be any less dear to us if
he'd come home on, say, an average Wednesday, but I'd be lying to you
if I said it didn't mean something to us that he made his first appearance
in our home on Christmas Eve.
Adopted on Christmas Eve 2013, Mr. G. appreciates the holidays -- and
any other time when laps are freely available. (Nara Schoenberg / Chicago
When I told my story to Gail Buchwald, a senior vice president at the
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, I was afraid
she might scold me for encouraging impulse adoptions, but she said that
kind of thinking is outdated. Impulse adoptions are actually rare, she
said, and there's evidence that animals given as gifts (to people who
are already seriously considering a pet) are more likely to stay in their
adoptive homes than other animals.
There's the emotional aspect, too, Buchwald said, putting into words
what I'd been struggling to say about our favorite cat's holiday debut.
"This cat is imbued with this wonderful story and the sentimental attachment
that goes along with it, not only of the holiday and the gathering, but of this
was a beautiful thing that you did for your family to enjoy for many years," Buchwald
"It makes it more special than bringing home a cat on another day of the
week. It really does."
The Humane Society of the United States is "very much supportive" of
holiday adoptions, but it's important to do your homework, says Illinois
state director Marc Ayers. Ask yourself, do you have enough time to devote
to a pet? Does someone in your household have allergies? What would be
the best pet for your household? Consider nontraditional pets (rats,
hamsters) and older dogs and cats, who may be calmer and better behaved.
Once you know what kind of animal you're looking for, check websites
such as The Shelter Pet Project for comprehensive information and pet
profiles. Ayers also recommends checking your local shelter's website
and taking the time to visit in person.
Local shelters such as PAWS Chicago and the Animal Care League in Oak
Park offer holiday-themed adoption events. PAWS adoption center Director
Diane Wilkerson suggests a way that parents can make the holiday pet
a complete surprise: Give a collar as a wrapped present, and tell your
kid that after the holidays, you're going to choose the pet together.
I had to work on Christmas Eve 2013, so it was my husband, Sam, a man
partial to small dogs and similarly sized cats, who brought home our
supersize (13-pound) cat. Calvin and his twin brother, Zephy, were thrilled.
Sam borrowed a cat carrier from a neighbor and headed off to the Animal
Care League. A staffer took one look at the carrier and laughed.
"Oh, he's not going to fit in that," she said.
Not long after that, out came our cat — shelter name: Gazpacho — big
and ill and none too happy about being held.
Sam swallowed his doubts as a staffer eased the angry cat into a disposable
Mr. G., as we came to call him, slept fairly continuously for about 48
hours upon his arrival, but even then, he'd rouse himself to greet people
at the door. We put medicine in his eyes, and the infection cleared up.
Soon, we realized that everywhere we went, the cat was there too. He'd
snuggle with us while we watched TV. He slept with the boys in shifts:
the first part of the night for you, the second part for you.
Today he's bossy, really bossy, but in the best possible way. He steals
Zephy's pillow, and we'll find him sleeping at the top of the bed, our
son sleeping at the bottom. Mr. G. has been known to demand a seat at
the dinner table. We'll pull up a chair, and he'll jump up and watch
calmly, as if following the conversation.
His enthusiasm can be daunting to the uninitiated. The upholsterer who
fitted the couch with a new slipcover couldn't get Mr. G to stop pouncing
on the fabric. The cable guy looked up to find the cat right in his face,
eager to offer assistance from his perch on the TV stand. "Lady," I
heard a voice calling from the living room, "can you come get your
He's a handful, Mr. G., but when he lies down with you, he'll put a paw
around your neck as if he's giving you a hug. He makes us laugh, and
laugh, and laugh.
We're grateful for him all year — he wouldn't stand for anything
less — but when the first snow falls and the carols start playing,
we're a little more grateful because this is his season, because, after
careful consideration, Mr. G. chose us.
13, 2016 - "I have studied many philosophers and many
cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior." -
Feline Art: "Cat,
Mouse and Fishy" by
14, 2016 - "An ordinary kitten will ask more questions
than any five year old."
- Carl Van Vechten
Gratuitous Kittiness: Snug as three bugs.
Mewvie: The Happy Cat Sanctuary. (See story below.)
Art: Tiny cat sculpture by Kerri Pajutee.
cat man of Long Island.
by Kelli Bender
Chris Arsenault is crushing the cat lady stereotype.
Known as the “cat man” of Long Island, the New York resident
has earned this title, transforming his home into a haven for homeless
cats and kittens.
According to CBS New York, Arsenault is currently caring for over 300
rescue cats at Happy Cat Sanctuary. He was inspired to turn his abode
into a safe space for abandoned, abused and unwanted felines after his
son’s tragic death, wanting to honor the boy’s life by providing
a new start to dozens of animals.
The furry residents of Happy Cat Sanctuary live both inside and outside
the fenced home, and all of them appear to adore Arsenault, a 58-year-old
retired train conductor. Felines affectionately swarm the man anytime
he arrives at the sanctuary, as if they sense that it was Arsenault who
“Their lives were so horrible, from not having food, or threatened of being
poisoned or being dumped somewhere,” Arsenault told CBS New York.
Arsenault cares for the kitties with aid from a team of volunteers and
donations, which help cover the $1,000 per week it costs to keep the
sanctuary running and the felines happy.
“It’s unconditional love, you know, the cats they just know that
you’re helping them,” Arsenault said.
15, 2016 - "You can not look at a sleeping cat and
feel tense." - Jane Pauley
Gratuitous Kittiness: "Are those reindeer hooves on the roof?"
Mewvie: Train conductor saves a kitty.
Feline Art: "June Bug" by Sue Ellen Brown.
16, 2016 - "Cats are dangerous companions for writers
because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing
avoidance." - Dan Greenburg
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "You talking to me?"
Mewvie: Simon's cat vs. the little-bitty box.
Art: "Cat Tattooing" by Kazuaki Horitomo.
cat the swung an election.
by Aimee Lutkin
In a little town called White Settlement in Texas, a man named Elzie
Clements went up against a library cat named Browser—and lost.
According to a local CBS affiliate, Browser was adopted to the local
library as a kitten, as a means of controlling the rodent population
and delighting book lovers. Then in July, over at City Hall, a worker
wished to bring his puppy into the office and was denied. The unnamed
man transferred his anger onto the innocent cat living amongst the stacks.
If his puppy couldn’t come to work, Browser should be put out on
his fluffy ass!
The White Settlement City Council put the matter to a vote. Only one
person stood against Browser, City Councilman Clements. The support for
Browser from the city council was in part a response to a huge backlash
against his proposed eviction, when viral media caught wind of Browser’s
tale. The mayor, Ron White, told ABC News at the time that he’d
received more than 1,500 emails from all over the world demanding justice
for Browser. In early July it was confirmed that the kitty had triumphed.
So what of Elzie Clements? CBS DFW reports that he lost in a landslide
to his opponent this November, defeated by his cat vendetta. According
to Death and Taxes, Mayor White firmly connected Clements loss to his
anti-Browser stance when he told local radio station KRLD, “I don’t
know why he was after Browser, ‘cause it’s my understanding
he has cats at home. For some reason he had it in his head that there
should not be a cat in a public building.”
We have until 2020 to find the cat who is willing to run against Donald