Confessions of a Florentine Pet Sitter

Blondie and Rusty
October 10, 2014, 9:42 PM
Filed under: art, cat sculptures, cats and dogs, Confessions

communing with dogThis is the real Miss Blondie sitting in communion with Rusty the Iron Dog. She sat there for the longest time. She also sat looking up into his face in adoration, like rusty was god.  It was apparent that Miss Blondie was feeling safe and comfortable with him. To happen upon these two creatures at this moment, and have time to grab my camera, was a propitious and poignant moment for me – real cat and fake dog having a private conversation, a meeting of souls. The light coming in from the beveled glass on the front door sparkled and illuminated the two. all the more like a spiritual encounter. In the moment I realized there was something  more to this cat.

UntitledThis is a picture of the papier mache Blondie in her new home standing next to  Rusty the Iron dog.  She’s excited to finally stand so close to Miss Blondie’s Rusty. Although, the ambiance between these two seems a little less than adoring. Rusty is not looking at Blondie. He’s turned his nose up and away. And Blondie, of course is looking at the camera, don’t ya know. She loves the camera, that Miss Hollywood Blondie. Maybe she’s thinking this is a leg up for her, no more stepping out with Mr. Fat Hip cat wearing the peace necklace!

Both of these images make me smile. I can’t help it.

Blondie’s Wad
August 16, 2014, 1:54 PM
Filed under: art, cat sculptures, Confessions, pet paintings-stories | Tags: ,


A tall and skinny kitty, Blondie’s coat is a soft warm rust and cream color with both stripes like a tabby and spots like a leopard, but she is a domesticated Blue-Eyed Spotted Snow Bengal, the rarest of domesticated Bengal breeds. While caring for her I discern some of her wild ancestry in her hunting, especially in the chase. Suddenly she zooms through the living room, leaping from floor to sofa to table all the way into the master bedroom, on to the bed and over to her cat tree. She hides just behind a door or a corner and when I walk by she startles me by zooming out from the invisibility of her hiding place.  I have to be vigilantly watchful of her antics and very careful or else I come close to tripping over her fast-moving body as she zips across in front of my feet. She could be hiding behind every door or every corner, anticipating my every move. Of course, this is an ancient instinctual behavior, what all wild cats do to catch their prey. It’s a matter of preservation. For Blondie, she does this as a form of hide and seek. She’s having fun, playing, stalking, and scaring the hell out of me, while expending all her wild-natured energies.

wadShe has lots of cat toys, red balls, tiny stuffed balls and critters, catnip-filled snakes, but one of her favorite so far has been the tiny crumpled-up paper wad that a friend gave her. It’s simple, light weight, and makes crackling and skittering noises as it slides across the tile floor. Its diameter is slightly larger than a quarter. Crunch the white computer paper into a tight roundish shape with a tiny piece of paper sticking out from its circumference, and you have a paper wad. Easy. Inexpensive. Cats love them.

The wad is so light-weight that all Blondie has to do is bump it slightly with her paw and off it skitters like a spider across the slippery tile floor, Blondie in fast pursuit.  It’s not just an inanimate object; it’s a living thing with its own volition…or so it seems. It’s a  soccer ball for Blondie with a mind of its own. . .and like a footballer, she chases it all over the field, accidentally toe-kicks it here and there…she can’t help herself…and sometimes scores a goal. All I have to do is sit back, watch, laugh and hoot an’ holler Go for it Blondie! Good kitty! She races after it, slipping and sliding this way and that, bumping into walls and furniture, following the path of her wad. She chases it again and again until she gets close enough without bumping it to motion again and can gingerly grab it with her mouth. Goal!

Inevitably, the wad gets kicked under the giant brown sofa in the living room. Usually when she lost her toys under the sofa or chair, I was the one who had to get down on hands and knees with a long broom handle to fetch them for her by hitting them out from under. But with the wad, Blondie flips over on her side, scrambles and slides under the sofa, only about five inches of crawl space, and with her teeth grasps the tiny piece of white paper sticking out from the wad. Still on her side, she slides and pushes her way back out from under the sofa with the wad looking like it’s stuck to a bit of taupe fuzz that mimics lipstick on her mouth. She proudly trots over to me with her head held high, her tail straight and tall as a goal post, and a white paper-wad attached to her lips which she drops it at my feet. Goal!

At first, Blondie just wandered off with the paper wad and deposited it in odd places. It didn’t take her long to grasp the concept of retrieving and bringing it back to me, but I didn’t train her to do so. All I did was stand and clap my hands, calling her name, calling her back, telling her she was a good kitty. She always came back to me for the adulation. One day she dropped the wad at my feet. Surprised, I praised her profusely and gave her a head-to-body rub all the way up to the tip of her tail. She loved it. When I threw the wad again and again, she retrieved it each time, carrying the wad in her mouth, dropping it at my feet, and later, directly into my hand. And for this she got a big body rub. No food treats, just lots of love.

It was incredulous that she could learn that fast, especially when I had not been trying to teach her to fetch. I just wanted her to feel good, to let her know I was enjoying her game with the wad. I always rewarded her with body and tail rubs whether or not she retrieved anything. I rewarded her for simply coming to me when I clapped my hands. She figured out the fetching thing all by herself.

 To watch her mad scramble under things to get her wad and ultimately bring it back to me brought me a wad full of joy. The simplest little toy, like a wad of paper, like an empty box or a black Fred Meyer’s grocery bag brings unbelievable delight to Blondie. And thus to me. It reminds me of how I once loved to play in boxes and build forts in the living room at my friend’s house. We stretched sheets and blankets over furniture building secret hiding places. Places to play with our dolls and bears. It reminds me of how my friends and I used to slide down a steep sand dune at Asilomar beach in Pacific Grove. We used pieces of flat cardboard or boxes and surfed the dunes until the Pebble Beach Corporation destroyed the entire area by building a new golf course and resort hotel.

The simplest things always make the best toys. Cat sitting Blondie has reminded me of this tiny truth.

© 2014  Susan Canavarro. All Rights Reserved.

Cool Hip Fat Cat
July 10, 2014, 8:38 PM
Filed under: cat paintings, cat sculptures, Confessions | Tags: , ,


While on his date with Blondie she told him she wished he was a little more hip than the old business-like Fat Cat. She wanted not a hot-shot cat making money at risk-arbitrage, but a hip cat working for the good of all catdom. Not wanting to lose Blondie, Fat Cat transformed himself into the coolest hippest fat cat in Florence. Here he is now wearing cool adult sunglasses, no children’s blue frames anymore, a beaded necklace adorned with the popular peace sign strung on hemp twine. He is a cool, peace-loving animal. And with Blondie by his side, he will probably lead his gang to generate peace as they wander the neighborhood.
All you cats constantly growling at each other, quit it!

Besides, if he wants to stay the leader of the gang, he needs to get smarter and bolder and do things wildly different from any other fat cat.

What Hip doesn’t know is that lurking in the mind of his Creator is his nemesis who also wants to be the leader of the Meow Gang.

Steppin’ Out
July 8, 2014, 4:11 PM
Filed under: cat paintings, cat sculptures, Confessions | Tags:

Ms. Blondie and Really Cool Fat Cat are the hot item in Florence and have been seen steppin’ out! Cats everywhere are meowing, hissing, and growling indignation. Just who thinks he’s the cat’s meow, anyway?

Blondie & Fat Cat

Blondie & Fat Cat

Really Cool Fat Cat
Really Cool Fat Cat

Really Cool Fat Cat

Really Cool Fat Cat is the leader of the Meow Gang right now. Although, the position may be up for grabs by a male or female cat!

Mikie's Encounter with Cool Fat Cat

Mikie’s Encounter with Cool Fat Cat

This is a photo of Mikie, a real neighbor cat taking a whiff of the sculpture cat. Mike first thinks it may be a real cat, and is a bit intimidated, but eventually decides it’s not worth his time or interest and turns his head away…too late for me to get a shot of Mikie touching noses with the fat cat.

Mikie did the same thing with the sculpture of Blondie. At first, he thinks they are real, and approaches them with caution in slow sloth-like movements, head lowered, tail up in happy hello, but soon realizes the error of his thinking. Jauntily climbs his stairs! He is still the only real cat here…whew, he sighs, that was close!

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