Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pets in My Studio? NOT!

Once upon a time, when my studio was in a spare bedroom in our house, we adopted a second cat. Everyone advised us to introduce the cats to one another very slowly. We were urged to keep the newcomer behind a closed door at first so they could hear but not see each other. The theory was that they could play pattycake under the door with their paws, become accustomed to one another's voices, and eventually be introduced face to face. This process, we were told, would allow them to gradually become best buds.

Pudge making herself at home on my worktable on her first evening in our house. At the time I failed to notice the chewed corner on the piece of paper next to her. It was an omen of things to come.

The only room available to house Pudge, our adoptee, was -- you guessed it -- the studio. On her first day with us, we settled her in with nice fluffy mats to curl up on, plenty of food and water, and a slew of brand new cat toys. So far, so good. We went to sleep that night excited and happy that a sweet new kitty had joined our family.

It didn't take long for us to discover she wasn't exactly a model citizen. The term "Trojan horse" comes to mind. The rescue organization we acquired her from hadn't mentioned that our new cat was the feline version of a paper shredder. If she got hold of anything made of paper it was toast. She would tear it into hundreds of tiny pieces before you could snatch it away from her. Nor did they mention her insatiable taste for plastic. This included plastic grocery bags, plastic trash bags, cellophane wrappers ... if it was thin and pliable enough to eat it was "down the hatch" in a flash.

The morning after her arrival, I opened my studio door to find the room had been ransacked. Covering the floor and my worktable was a blizzard of chewed papers. They included was was left of collages and other small works on watercolor paper, the contents of some files I had left on my desk, and of course the contents of the wastebasket. What remained of the plastic grocery bag I had used to line the wastebasket was riddled with teethmarks. In the midst of this destruction sat our new furchild complacently grooming herself, completely indifferent to the mess around her.

Long story short, she and our other cat did eventually bond, but while Pudge was housed in that bedroom studio every piece of paper, every magazine, every Post-It note and every item made of thin plastic had to be gathered up and stored where she couldn't reach them. The studio for the first and last time ever looked like it was ready for an HGTV shoot. Unfortunately, this uber-tidiness actually got in the way of productivity. I spent half my time trying to remember where I had hidden my supplies, and the rest of the time trying to protect them from the cat after I had found them.

Pudge, left, and her late buddy Chardonnay

Today I'm blessed to have a studio on our property that's separate from the house. Pudge has never lost her taste for plastic, and if there's paper within her grasp she's on it like a duck on a june bug. My studio is full of both. So Pudge, despite the fact that we love her dearly, has never been allowed to set foot in there, and never will be. The upside is my works on paper remain safe and intact. My studio wastebaskets are even lined with plastic bags -- a nicety we can't enjoy back at the house. People ask if I allow our cat to keep me company in the studio, and my unfailing answer is, "Hell no!" They're picturing a purring kitty curled up at my feet in a scene of idyllic contentment. Reality is a cat tearing into everything in sight like a runaway lawnmower. Nope, my studio is forever off limits to Pudge, aka The Evil One. It's officially pet free -- just the way I like it!

Text and images ©2016 Lynn Edwards

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