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Infinite Cat Project Archives for July 17-22, 2017.

Mewsings: July 17, 2017 - "The key to a successful new relationship between a cat and human is patience." - Susan Easterly

sleeping cat

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: To sleep, purrr-chance to dream.

Cat Mewvie: Maru and the slim plastic box.

cat comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat painting dani kaulakis

Feline Art: "Freya", by Dani Kaulakis.

cat in cage

Working feral cats
by Diana Kruzman

COMMERCE, Calif. -- In a large brick warehouse east of Los Angeles, Richard Medina hired a pair of guards to keep intruders from pillaging the pallets of gourmet drinks and snacks that were stored there.

They were lazy from the start, and one even ran off. But the one that remained, a feline with the utilitarian name of "Black Cat," is getting the job done: protecting Los Angeles Distributing Company from rodents.

Black Cat is one of many neutered feral cats that "no-kill" shelters are giving to businesses and individuals to help control pests, and to spare the felines' lives. They are not considered pets, but rather “working cats.”

Medina, who helped found the food and beverage distributor, received his animals through a working cat program at the Los Angeles shelter of the Best Friends Animal Society. The organization, based in Kanab, Utah, is trying to end unnecessary pet euthanasia. “We’re guided by a desire to make this a country where that doesn’t happen anymore,” said Gregory Castle, CEO of Best Friends.

So far, the program has placed 75 cats since starting last year. And it's happening elsewhere around the country:

St. Paul. At the Animal Humane Society in greater Minneapolis-St. Paul, the Barn and Business Cat program has placed 336 of the animals since the initiative began in January 2015, says shelter spokesman Zach Nugent.

Baltimore. In Maryland's Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, Amber Ketchum has found homes for 54 cats since December 2016, from urban warehouses and breweries to rural horse farms and a vineyard.

Phoenix. The Arizona Humane Society has saved 730 cats from euthanasia since January 2014, says shelter spokeswoman Bretta Nelson — mostly those with behavioral issues that prevent them from living indoors.

But placing cats in businesses is only a dent in the problem of unwanted pets.

Though the number of animals euthanized in shelters has been decreasing, about 860,000 cats are still killed each year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many city shelters simply don’t have space to house them and many are too wild to make good house pets.

That’s where working cats programs come in – as a last-chance solution. Many cities have programs that trap, neuter and release feral cats to prevent them from reproducing while keeping them on their home turf. But in some areas, that’s either impossible or illegal, and working cat programs are the only alternative to euthanasia.

“There has to be a place in society for these cats,” says Melya Kaplan, the founder of the Voice For The Animals Foundation in Los Angeles. “They have no other option.”

Typically, working cats start out living on the streets, where they learn to fear human contact, says Marc Peralta, who runs Best Friends’ Los Angeles shelter. Some are captured by animal control officers and brought to shelters run by the city — which is where Best Friends gets the majority of its working cats.

“It’s a different way to save their lives,” Peralta said. His organization keeps around 50 cats at a time in an open-air enclosure a short walk away from Best Friends’ main adoption area. There, after being spayed or neutered so they can no longer breed, they receive food, shelter and medical attention until someone decides to adopt them.

If they start working, the cats don't have to actively seek out rats or mice. Medina, for instance, said his warehouse has never had a rodent problem. Rodents stay away when they pick up the scent of a cat.

Besides businesses, the program has placed cats with individuals who need rodent control in more rural areas.

Brittany Sorgenstein, a 31-year-old resident of Santa Clarita, Calif. raises turkeys, goats and a rabbit on a 2.5-acre parcel of land that includes a barn and a pasture, less than an hour away from downtown Los Angeles. She says that for five years, she could not get rid of the rats, which ate the food she stored for her animals.

Sorgenstein says she was hesitant to use solutions like poison or rat traps that she saw as cruel. Through her work at the Best Friends Animal Society – where she is a dog caretaker – she found out about the working cat adoption program and decided to give it a try. In May of last year, she adopted two cats, Bonnie and Clyde.

It's not always perfect. They may occasionally kill birds or other wildlife, which is why some environmental activists are against releasing feral cats back into society, says Rebekah DeHaven, an attorney for the animal rights organization Alley Cat Allies. But she added that most communities don’t see feral cats as a large problem if they are fixed and disease-free.

“People would rather leave cats in their outdoor homes than have them brought to a shelter and killed,” DeHaven said. “It’s not a politically viable option.”

Mewsings: July 18, 2017 - "It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming."
- Adlai Stevenson

cat that looks like elephant

Gratuitous Kittiness:Nice, uhhh, cat you got there.

Cat Mewvie: Yes, some cats enjoy a nice swim.

cats basking in sun comic

Today's Kitty Komic

nap cat art by kellas campbell

Feline Art: "Sunshine With Colors" by Kazmarski.

Mewsings: July 19, 2017 - "Many cats simply pounce to their own drummers." - Karen Duprey

big fluffy cat with pretty girl

Gratuitous Kittiness: "Ah luvs mah hooman."

Cat Mewvie: Cat domestication.

why cats jump off laps comic

Today's Kitty Komic

cat painting by heidi shaulis

Feline Art: "Charlie Paws" by Heidi Shaulis.

Mewsings: July 20, 2017 - "A home without a cat, and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat, may be a perfect home, perhaps; but how can it prove its title?" - Mark Twain

kittens on desk top

Gratuitous Kittiness: The purr-fect desk set.

Cat Mewvie: "MY backpack!"

cats thru the seasons comic

Today's Kitty Komic

kitten pillow fight art

Feline Art: "Cat Party" by Louis Wain.

Mewsings: July 21, 2017 - "A little drowsing cat is an image of perfect beatitude." - Jules Champfleury

kitten in hoodie

Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "Later, dudes!"

Cat Mewvie: The Cat That the Sun Adopted.

why cats hate you comic

Today's Kitty Komic

stained glass tiger

Feline Art: Stained glass tiger.

fat cat sculpture

Richmond's Wandering Cat
by Jessica Lowell

RICHMOND — When the gray cat appeared by Annabelle’s on Front Street, Barbara Bowley, the coffee shop’s co-owner, waved off the customers’ concern.

“I told them it was just a stray,” Bowley said.

No one who has seen the cat, named Swede, is likely to forget her. She’s gray, with lighter paws and face and yellow-green feline eyes.

Swede is also about three feet tall and clad in fiberglass. She’s been sighted in different locations throughout Richmond and as far away as Bath and Brunswick.

She goes wherever her sculptor, Douglas Chess — or Questionable Doug as he sometimes calls himself — takes her.

“I’m doing it for the town,” he said. “Just for the joy of it.”

If the goal of artists is to provoke a reaction, Chess has succeeded wildly with his cat. Swede gathers fans wherever she goes and this weekend she’s going to a parade. Chess will load her up on truck to be one of about two dozen floats that will take part in the 10 a.m. Richmond Days parade on Saturday. The annual summer celebration draws people from around the region to the riverfront town with food trucks, games, contests, road races, exhibits, music, fireworks and parades.

For Chess, it all comes back to the art.

That hasn’t changed from the years he spent in his rent-stabilized garret atop a building in Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River to his life now in Maine, which includes a studio overlooking the Kennebec River he built from the falling-down barn behind his home.
When he moved to New York from Long Island about four decades ago, it was to study drawing. He spent seven years at the Art Students League of New York, a nonprofit art school. Over time, his interest expanded to different media — wood cuts, painting, and now stained glass, mosaics and sculpture.

Swede is the product of about a year’s worth of work spread out over about five years. For a while, the practicalities of life intruded, and he picked up some work that would pay bills. But about a year ago, Chess was able set some of that work aside to give more time to his art and to get back to who he said he really is: an artist.

“You are more likely to be financially successful as a major league baseball player than you are as an artist,” he said. “It doesn’t matter.”

What matters is the art and the making of it.

The material the cat is made from is the same for his other sculpture work, cardboard and construction paper.

“I was carving stone, limestone and marble,” he said. “Every time you whacked the marble, a dollar fell off.”

That was, he said, financially unmanageable. So he arrived upon the mix of cardboard, construction paper, glue and wheat paste to make something solid.

“Once you get it solid, you can carve it,” he said.

Now he’s starting to add canvas to make the material stronger.

“Sculpture is a tactile thing. You want to touch it,” he said.

Swede is touchable, and children are fascinated by her.

When he dropped it off at an elementary school in Topsham, he said, “I caused a riot. The kids came off the bus and they were all over it. They were crazy for it.”

This is the third large sculpture that Chess has done like this. The first was a dog that’s now in a children’s hospital in Florida. The second is a fish that’s currently in the home he shares with Ruth, his wife and their cats, Swede — the inspiration for the artwork — and Napoleon, and art by both of them. The fish has hung in the Isaac F. Umberhine Library, where some of his paintings are hanging, and in the town’s gazebo, where he and Ruth were married.

The cat is the first one that has incorporated fiberglass. He built it in three parts in his studio, and lowered it to the garage for assembly. It’s not solid because he knew he would want to move it, but it’s heavy enough that Chess uses a “come-along” to shift it on the trailer he uses to cart her around. Just as often, a passerby stops to help.

Not all of his sculptures are that large. Throughout his home, filled with art by both him and Ruth, are a series of Mardi Gras heads, elaborate oversize sculpted masks that completely cover the wearer’s head and rests on the shoulders. He wears the chef’s head with an apron to the annual chili cook-off at The Old Goat restaurant in Richmond, and he made a tour guide head that he wore during a stint as a guide.

While he lived in New York, he had gallery exhibits and helped manage a gallery. That gave him a chance to see to how people interact with art.

In the context of a gallery, people could see the most outrageous thing and not be visibly moved.

With Swede, it’s an entirely different experience. He invites people to take selfies of it and email them to him. They do, generally with compliments on the work.

“I take this cat and put it out there and everyone gets to see it and enjoy it,” he said. “And I get the reactions and that’s the joy of it.”


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