Three Sticks of Pastel – My Mission to Find Homes for Shelter Cats
by Claudia Baldwin
For the past two years, I’ve been enjoying exploring painting with soft pastel sticks and pastel pencils. I became particularly interested in portraiture; my favorite subjects are family members. Prior to that, my favorite subjects were cats–my cat Moofie in particular. But when I lost Moofie, I had no more heart for cat art—it just made me too sad.
Each time I visited our local shelter I swallowed back my tears thinking of Moofie and also just feeling heartbroken knowing that these creatures of God spend years in cages. But I made the decision to pull myself together and use my talent to help them find homes—one cat at a time.
I asked a shelter worker to point out the cat that is least adoptable, the one who has been there the longest. And that would be Kathy, an eight-year-old with a small, sweet head, and a largish body. The little write-up about her on a card beside her cage mentioned her aloofness; but it also mentioned her interesting background as a cross-country trucker’s companion. When we first met, she happened to be on break from her cage, roaming freely in the room—and she was anything but stand-offish! Kathy played with one toy after another and would come up to me periodically for stroking. I took a slew of photos of her, and chose a profile for my portrait.
I spent a few weeks working on the portrait, and really enjoyed representing her soft fur and long whiskers with a pretty blending of grays, browns, gold, and white. She wore a little purple band around her neck with a pink bell for accent.
I had the portrait framed and when I brought it to the shelter, the director of adoptions led me to Kathy who happened to be free from her cage again and was sitting on a window ledge. We nose-kissed as the director took our photos for social media. The photos drew lots of positive attention, but sadly, no one to this day has been lured by the prospect of owning the portrait as a bonus for adopting her.
I’m proud to have accomplished my mission on behalf of Kathy, but am sad that she’s still in the shelter some six months later. I pray that she’ll find a home. And if she does, I’ll paint an “incentive portrait” of the newly designated longest-term kitty resident.