Saturday, November 11, 2017

I paint with cats

Do you know how it is when you get your coffee just right, the perfect blend of cream, sugar, and life-giving liquid caffeine—and then the waitress comes to top it off and obliterates your perfect mix? (I don't myself, I drink my coffee black, but it's an illustrative point, so just go with it.) That's what it's like for me to have broken in one generation of cats to respect my painting space only to get a new cat who respects not the tradition, like the "new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:8).

Such is life now with Bogart, a.k.a. Destructo-Cat, the new feline pharaoh of Casa de Los Gatos in beautiful, bucolic Lynnwood, WA. Behold the mighty works of Destructo-Cat:

A former paper towel roll, now Bogart fodder
Like someone went at it with an electric hedge trimmer

He's also sociopath cat. He's really sweet with me, but his attitude towards his "girlfriends" is decidedly offputting. Maebh hates him with a passion and fears him like the devil. He's chased her upstairs, downstairs, and all about too many times. I'll be surprised if they're ever friends. Rhiannon seems somewhat indifferent to him—at least she doesn't have the extreme negative reactions that Maebh has—but she would likely hate him once he got access to her.

Which he doesn't have.

For the last year, I've had to keep Bogart and the girls separated. They have the run of the house alternately in a kind of time-share.

Gotta keep 'em separated

Typically, Bogart has the run of the house from 11:00 a.m. to about 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. During this time the girls are ensconced in my bedroom. Otherwise, the girls are out from around 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. until 11:00 a.m. the next day. During that time, Bogart is holed up in my den.

Where I paint.

He being no respecter of anything, I have to keep him at bay lest he jump up on my painting table to rummage about my partially painted minis like Godzilla taking on Tokyo. It isn't conducive to productivity.

I paint in a cramped space in my den closet. It gives me the ability to close off the painting table when I'm not working at it.

The painting cave

The closet runs the width of the room, but has two openings. When I sit and paint in the right side opening, the closed left side of the closet is dark, mysterious, cave-like.

And the allure of the cave beckons. The urge to spelunk is too much for Bogart's primitive brain to resist. He has to explore. He crawls in past me and disappears back behind the shelving where he rustles about getting into who knows what (and destroying who knows what).

"And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places" (Isaiah 45:3)

Bogart's activity stops all my activity and I have to root him out from the recesses of the closet. I consider this a nuisance. Bogart considers it wonderful fun. And so it goes.

Most of his destruction is an attempt to get my attention—or get my goat, since he often has my attention.

There is some respite. When he's out and about the house, he will eventually settle on the back of the couch where Grendel wore in his permanent dimple over the course of 10 years.

Respecting the dimple tradition

Once he's zonked out there, I can sneak upstairs and paint uninterruptedly for a while. However, the thought will eventually occur to him that somewhere I may be doing productive work and he'll spring to action to impede that.

But I can foil him by shooing him out of the den and shutting the door. The girls are holed up in the bedroom, I am holed up in the den, and Bogart "as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). It's good for a couple hours painting time as long as there are no loud crashes I need to investigate.

Despite all feline-related hazards, I have actually managed pretty good output this last year. I chalk that up to the quicker method of The Dip. And, if I'm unproductive, it's more often than not my own dilatoriness. Nevertheless, it's easier to blame a cat for my own failings. They're convenient that way.

"The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets" (Proverbs 26:13)


  1. I've never had cats, nothing against them, but am a dog person. Although when I was a kid growing up in Hawaii our neighbor's cat (Tiger) would also come into our yard (our dog, Poochie, never bothered her), and she would also greet my dad on the back porch when he would put on his work boots (welder for the Navy). This was before I woke up, but my mom said that's what happened. They strike me as very selective in whom or what they have interest in. Unlike dogs, who are pretty easy to figure out - food, sleep, play - recycled. BTW, that "just right coffee" is one of my favorite scenes from "Coffee and Cigarettes." That's a tight painting "room" you have too!

  2. I'm surprised the Cat Police have not come for Bogart. He clearly doesn't display the required level of indifference, let alone disdain, for his human slave.

  3. Previous cat I wouldn't have been able to paint he would have just interfered directly, marching up and down keyboards while you try and type, knocking over tea cups, current cat isn't able to climb much, twilight years we inherited him he lives upstairs, the dog mostly lives downstairs, I like having both to be honest.
    Best Iain

  4. What a fun post! Looks like dealing with Bogart is more tiring than looking after a toddler. Don't you ever let the cats outdoors so that they use all their energy and come back relaxed?

    1. I like in a townhome and don't have a yard. It's not possible to let the cats out anywhere they wouldn't be in immediate danger.