The Cat Who Lives in My Garden

She appeared a few weeks ago. Slinking through the bushes. Peering out from behind the garage. Stalking birds and squirrels to no avail. At first, the mere sight of me sent her fleeing for her life. Then I started putting out food for this sweet, angelic, homeless little cat. Now she knows who I am – the lady with the food – but still she keeps her distance; cautious, wary, on the defensive, confused as to why this person is filling a food and water bowl, pestering her to come out and play, and flinging pieces of freshly cooked chicken at her.

Friends, I LOVE this cat. I truly love her. But she doesn’t love me yet 😦 I’ve named her Kate, and she and I are in a “dance”. A dance of trust. I talk to her gently and lovingly, but she won’t let me get close. Kate is content to live in my garden, and seems to understand that it is the safest, most welcoming place in the neighborhood for her. She will keep me company out there while I garden, but from a distance. She will hang out while I deadhead my flowers, but from a distance. She will eyeball me as I fill the food bowl, but from a distance.

I really must get a more substantial social life or something because I’m obsessed with Kate. I worry about her at night when the tomcat bullies seek her out for lascivious activity. I worry about her now as New York is melting in a scorching heat wave. I worry about her being mistreated by a callous cat-hating neighbor. What if something happens to her when I’m not home?? Ok, so I have some paranoid tendencies. Or just a melodramatic weak spot for helpless creatures. Kate!! I’ll protect you!!

With my brand new digital camera, I snapped some pictures of her, which is hard to do with this skittish, easily spooked cat. I just wanted to share them with all of you. I’m not great with the camera yet as it’s right out of the box and I read maybe one and a half pages of the user guide, so bear with me! I’ll get better, I promise. By the way, it’s a Canon PowerShot SD1100 digital ELPH. And it’s blue and really cute! I’ll be bringing it to work with me to take some modeling/posing/art class pics to post here on the blog.

Here is Kate snuggled in her favorite spot behind the fern:

Lounging by the sundial:

Kate is cool. Kate is my feline sweetie. I don’t know where she came from, or what circumstances led to her living alone and abandoned. But something brought her to me. To my backyard – the smallest one on the block. Snug, cozy, full of sheltered little corners.

And here are some other test shots, some plants and flowers in my garden. For now, this is Kate’s “home”.

Hydrangea:

Purple geranium:

Coreopsis:

10 thoughts on “The Cat Who Lives in My Garden

  1. dougrogers says:

    Keep coaxing. She’ll learn to live with you in her yard. She looks young and healthy. keep her well as ling as she wishes. If you can ‘get your hands’ on her, have her spayed please.

  2. dougrogers says:

    Oh, and lovely garden. You can afford that nice place working as a model? good on yah.

  3. artmodel says:

    Yay, Doug!

    Thanks for your comments and your support for Kate. Great advice.

    I’m glad you brought up about getting her spayed. Now I’m not certain about this by any means, but I think it’s possible that Kate is pregnant. I don’t know. All I can say is that there are tomcats roaming around the neighborhood and from my close, daily observations of Kate, I could swear she’s looking a little thick in the middle, thicker than she did, say, four weeks ago. But I could be wrong.

    If she is pregnant it complicates things. If I can coax her into the house and get her acclimated indoors, then I can set her up to have her kittens inside. I will happily adopt at least one or two for myself, and find good homes for the others. And I will definitely get her spayed.

    Twice, I was able to get her into the kitchen! I have a system. If I leave the door open and she is hungry enough, she will step just inside and eat from a food bowl, provided I am out of sight. If she sees me she bolts out the door. So I hide while she eats. But it’s progress. The key to this cat is not to look at her. She is most comfortable when you ignore her.

    A friend told me about the humane traps, but I would like to avoid using them if possible. I just hate the idea of scaring her. I’m hoping that with a lot of patience, like you said, she will come to accept me – on her terms, at least. I really wish I could touch her and pet her, but she won’t allow that right now.

    Thanks for liking my garden! As far as affording this place, well, BARELY afford it is more like it. But it’s really the magic and trickery of photography, and good plant selection 🙂

    I’ll keep everyone posted about little Kate. And thanks again Doug for commenting.

    Claudia

  4. dougrogers says:

    She’s young, They do get pregnant fast. On the other hand, if Tom’s are hanging around, she may not be. Far more likely that she is however.
    One of our cats is a kitten from an outdoor litter, born in a basement window well, from a queen who apparently would rather have stayed outside, though the family did take good care of her. Advice on spaying? as soon as the kittens are weaned and taking solid food.

    I think she came to your garden for the security and the flowers.

    I realized one of the things that amazed me about your apartment was that, apparently, it is on the ground, for one, and there are plants and such. 🙂

    We have such funny self-images of cities.

  5. I think with a cat, trapping would destroy hard earned trust. Once trapped you then have the problem of what to do with her; lock her up? A bit unkind; cats can be quite vicious if threatened too! I think a cat flap might be an answer so she can come and go freely and she might even decide to find a cosy place to have her kittens; in your airing cupboard! Always let her come to you and always give her a wayout.

    This is what happened in West Africa in 1961 with our ‘Felix’, a bush cat with very big ears (except that it chose a wardrobe). My father was not keen on cats so my mother and my siblings had to ensure it kept a low profile. We thought it was a Tom until she started to fill out! Sadly it was a mistake in Africa to tame even semi wild animals but I am sure New York is a great place to have a cat. I look forward to the next episode.

    PS My dog had to have cat food yesterday as the village shop had run out of dog food. She didn’t seem to mind!

  6. One other thing I have notice about cats, they do not like to be ignored so if you want to make friends keep her guessing a bit. If she doesn’t trust you after a little attention then shrug it off and go and do something else. An award system works with most animals and it depends a little on how hungry she is. You are probably on a winner here as the closer she gets to her confinement the more urgent a safe place to have her kittens will be come. You both have a lot to gain by your success. Good luck.

  7. Hi Claudia,

    Hey…I just came across your site and wanted to say I love what you are doing here. I am a former art model (and stil volunteer when needed), but now I have turned art photographer who uses art models. Despite that my medium is in photo, I still have a deep affinity and support for figure drawing art models. It led me to create The Las Vegas Art Models Group, http://www.ArtModeling.meetup.com/115, where I hold both photo workshops and figure drawing and I try to help models find more work here in Vegas. I think you’ll be a great reference link on my blog for my Model Resource section, which I’ll fix tonight. You can also see my website at http://www.TLNeasley.com. Take Care!

    P.S. I like the recent cartoon you added. I think I’d like to use it and talk about your blog on my next post in the next few days.

    Terrell

  8. artmodel says:

    Doug,

    Yes, I think the secure, intimate nature of the garden was a big attraction for Kate. She can hide away here.

    Also, I should clarify that I am not in an apartment but a very small house – in Queens, not Manhattan (that’s the key). So your perception of the city was quite correct. To have a garden in any apartment in Manhattan, ground floor or otherwise – even a small one like mine – is in no way affordable for an art model, or most other people! Manhattan is for millionaires, but it wasn’t always like that. Queens and the other boroughs are all part of NYC, but Manhattan is “the city”, so to speak. All my work is in Manhattan, but I live in Queens. People like me live in Queens because it’ cheaper, and Manhattan isn’t possible financially.

    I bet London, Ontario is a lot more livable for the common folk! It’s probably not the Darwinian, capitalist jungle that Manhattan has become. Artists, writers, actors, graphic designers – and art models! – generally live in what are affectionately referred to as “the boroughs”. But I can’t complain, because I have my garden . . . and Kate 🙂

    Thanks for writing!

    Best,
    Claudia

  9. artmodel says:

    Robert,

    I’m glad you said what you said about the traps. I’m not comfortable with that whole idea. It does seem unkind, and scary for an already scared and timid cat. I’d hate to do that to her. I know people who have used them with success, but for now I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, exercise patience, and see where it goes.

    I can’t believe your dog ate the cat food! Good for him.

    Claudia

  10. artmodel says:

    Hi Terrell,

    Thanks for stopping by! Your site looks great – beautiful photography and images. I really appreciate your support for artist’s models and the helpful links you included in your site to encourage responsibility in fine art nude photography. That’s so important.

    By all means link to this blog. I’d like that very much. I’m glad you found Museworthy and feel free to contribute comments and suggestions. I welcome all.

    Again, very nice artistic work you’re doing. Thanks for sharing!

    Claudia

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