Cat Project Archives for July 17-22,
17, 2017 - "The key to a successful new relationship
between a cat and human is patience." - Susan Easterly
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: To sleep, purrr-chance to dream.
Mewvie: Maru and the slim plastic box.
Feline Art: "Freya",
by Dani Kaulakis.
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
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
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
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
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
18, 2017 - "It is in the nature of cats to do a certain
amount of unescorted roaming."
- Adlai Stevenson
Gratuitous Kittiness:Nice, uhhh, cat you got there.
Mewvie: Yes, some cats enjoy a nice swim.
Feline Art: "Sunshine
With Colors" by
19, 2017 - "Many cats simply pounce to their own drummers." -
Gratuitous Kittiness: "Ah luvs mah hooman."
Mewvie: Cat domestication.
Art: "Charlie Paws" by Heidi Shaulis.
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?" -
Gratuitous Kittiness: The purr-fect desk set.
Mewvie: "MY backpack!"
Feline Art: "Cat
21, 2017 - "A little drowsing cat is an image of perfect
beatitude." - Jules Champfleury
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "Later, dudes!"
Mewvie: The Cat That the Sun Adopted.
Feline Art: Stained
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
“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
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
“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
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
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