Back in May, I attended the Georgetown Garden Tour and kept camera in hand throughout in hopes of capturing some garden felines on film. While no living kitties crossed my path, I saw these fun cat representations along the way.
and then there was this kitty sleeping in a basement window well
- won't you come out to play with me I called - to no avail...
Stumped for what to get your outdoor-loving cat for a holiday or birthday gift? Here are 5 suggestions that are sure to make your garden kitty purr-purr-purr.
The catio will make your kitty the envy of the neighborhood and keep him safe and the birds too!
If your kitty loves to chew on every houseplant you have, grow her this alternate -- a safe pot of fresh cat grass all her own to munch on.
This safety collar is a great way to ensure your garden kitty doesn't get into danger and so any prey can her him coming.
This heating pad is the purr-fect thing for that barn cat or any kitty who prefers to sleep in an unheated space.
This sling pet carrier is all the rage now and is worth a try if you have a sociable feline who might like to go on errands to the garden center with you.
Finally, one bonus gift suggestion, for you -- if you have lost one of your garden kitties, this cat-angel is a wonderful way to remember them. I have one placed near the spot that my late Chantilly loved to sun herself by my water garden.
Pam Beck, a garden writer, lecturer, and photographer, shared these fun photos of her cat. He is one of 4 felines in her household. She wrote: His name is Yuki, which is Japanese for 'Charmed' or 'Lucky' as well as 'Snow,' perfect since we rescued him on a Friday the 13th from the middle of a bridge as a 4-week old, injured kitten. He is fully recovered and loves to follow us when we are in the garden. In the photo above, "The crape myrtle is 'Townhouse', one of the lovely cinnamon colored bark crape from the JC Raulston Arboretum. It is a white-flowered form. The bees seem to make the entire tree hum and the petals fall as summer snow. Love it. The green grass-like plant is the winter foliage of Hurricane lilies or red Spider lilies (Lycoris radiata)."
Karl Gercens is a horticulturist and garden lecturer, who works at Longwood Gardens. He does a great deal of garden traveling and takes terrific photos. Here are a few of his shots of cats in gardens that he shared with us.
"The playfull garden kitty was Helen Bodian’s garden in (I think New York.) Her garden was open for the garden conservancy open days and the kitty was greeting every visitor that walked through the garden."
This kitten hugging a Carex was at the JC Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina:
This orange kitty yawning was at the botanical garden in Madeira, Portugal:
This colorful cat was at the Gibbs Garden outside of Atlanta, GA:
Both of these photos are by Marko Blažević on Unsplash. No other information is available about this photographer or this cat, but the photos were likely taken in Croatia near Zagreb and the handsome cat is obviously a skilled hunter.
Sharon Gentry Beasley, the garden columnist for Newcastle Pacer weekly newspaper in Newcastle, OK, shared these pictures of her fluffy boy-cat, Pearly.
She writes,"This is the bay window in the sunroom (where the computer is) and it is full since I started bringing plants indoors. Pearly-cat likes his perching place near the plants."
"Pearly was one of 5 kittens brought to us by a stray calico momma cat about 16 years ago. Pearly looks like a high-dollar cat with beautiful blue eyes, long hair, and his paw markings match with the opposite foot. He was the "pearl" of the 5 kittens. The others were short-haired; 3 were black and 1 was yellow. Pearly also had a white area on one side of the mouth which reminded me of a pearl by his mouth. I had hoped he was a female cat and named him Pearl before the vet said he was a male. I decided to keep his girly name anyway. I don't remember how the "boy named Sue" turned out, but Pearl turned out fine with the girly name. No one has bullied him. He didn't use to be very vocal, but the last couple of years he lets me know he wants that food faster in his bowl. He is a bit of a chunky boy so I try to limit his food. He has become kind of a sneaky-naughty cat to the other remaining cat, Rascal, who used to be top cat, but Pearly slowly is trying to take over the position. So far, he has no known health problems, but he does seem to be getting a bit deaf in the last year. He is very lovable."
a rare moment when the two cats act like they are friends
Here is another wonderful share from Hunter Ten Broeck, Co-Owner/Operator ofWaterWise Landscapes Incorporated inAlbuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Hunter writes,"Xena is one of two brother-and-sister kittens we adopted (their mother was a barn cat in Grants, New Mexico). They are 3 1/2 now. We call her CooCoo Kitty as she has a tendency to randomly jump or go screaming off somewhere. That being said she can also be very sweet." Follow this link to see other cat photos from Hunter: http://catsingardens.blogspot.com/search?q=waterwise
Claudia Hoskyshared this photo: "The neighborhood grifter, Tommy George, crouches beneath the rosemary as he prepares to pounce on an unsuspecting garden hose." "He is a former street-cat from the United Arab Emirates. He was rescued and “imported” by his owners, and after a slew of shots and spending some time in quarantine (apparently required for immigrant kitties), he now happily roams the Cathedral Heights/Glover Park neighborhoods of Washington, DC, and keeps our chipmunk population under control."
Taffy Turner of Silver Spring, MD, shared: "We got Toby (pictured here) and his brother Jasper from the Montgomery County Animal Shelter about 2 years ago. They were found together and were only adoptable together. We think they are about 3. Toby is very mischievous, always into things he shouldn't be. He likes to chew plastic, sit in open windows, harass his brother, and occasionally drink from the toilet. He gets up on Jim's very cluttered desk and stomps around on all the junk demanding attention. He's a very cute kitty." Toby is a great garden companion as you can see by these photos. Taffy also has many other feline garden companions in art forms scattered around her garden. Here are a few examples.
Sally J .Smith of Greenspirit Arts (https://greenspiritarts.blogspot.com) shared this post about her grief and renewal: Earlier this year, in the first hints of a warming season but while snow was still on the ground, I was washing my breakfast dishes and looking out on the snowy landscape and deeply missing my snow-buddy Oliver (whose story we shared last week). I had read an advertisement a week or so earlier about a local fellow who was looking to find a home for a semi-feral cat named Hollis but my heart was still heavy and sore with the loss I was experiencing not having Oliver here in form, so I had closed myself off to the idea of welcoming a new cat into my home. As I stood, washing the teacup I can only say that the strangest feeling came over me, and I FELT Oliver running towards me. As part of me stood, transfixed at the sink, soapy teacup in hand, another part of me was in a warm and sunny space with my beloved friend running at full gallop towards me. I opened my arms to welcome him and he lept up to be held. His form was now much larger than he had been when he was in his body as a cat. My senses registered that he was now nearly 3 or 4 times larger and while it would be difficult to physically hold a creature as large as he was now (imagine a half-grown tiger leaping into your arms...could you hold it?) because we were both in non-physical forms, it was effortless to welcome him with a fully open heart. The sense of reunion was epic. My heart burst open with such love and gratitude to feel him once again. This was not a fantasy, it was a real encounter and I just went with it.
We melted against one another and he let me know that he was fine, very happy and radiantly whole. I was in awe of his power and presence...and that we could even be sharing in this way, now nearly 6 months since I laid his body into the earth....yet here "HE" was...whoever he was for he was definitely no longer a cat...but yet he retained something of that form/essence perhaps just to allow me to recognize him during this visit. Eventually, the wave of reunion washed over me and tears of joy trickled down my physical and metaphorical cheeks. And I heard him speak, in English, very clearly... he said simply : "Go meet Hollis". Gently and with a feeling of still smiling, our embrace began to melt and diffuse, like mist in the morning sun and soon I was back to the sink, soapy teacup still in hand.
With an invitation/command like that, one cannot say "No". So I made the phone call and went to meet this "Hollis" cat. Supposedly he was shy and took slowly to people as his caretaker had warned me...but from the very beginning, Hollis made it very clear that he'd like me to be HIS person. He rolled and purred and made it absolutely obvious to both myself and his former caretaker that he wanted to come with me...even to the point of actually hopping into my car when I was getting ready to leave! (Something he apparently had never done before and has never done since). So the next day we made it official and he came home for a trial period. It was not an easy acclimation. In fact, there were several days when I thought it was NEVER going to work he was just too aggressive with my ancient kitty who cannot defend herself at all, and my other resident male kitty who was just getting used to being the new top cat now that Oliver was gone. It took several months, but finally we've all settled in to living well together.
When the green of springtime finally came, I now knew what Oliver was up to....because Hollis is a fabulous garden kitty. He loves to supervise me whenever I'm working in the garden and he provides the companionship I was so desperately missing with Oliver's departure. I know it all sounds rather silly on one level, but on another it is quite real and wonderful. So Oliver sent me to meet Hollis and Hollis was very clear that he wanted to live here...and I've been blessed to have them both in my life. And the other kitties have adapted and now accept and enjoy a new sense of home together.
Here is Hollis in his new role as head supervisor at one of my spring photo shoots in the garden:
All of this is to say that things circle round....forms change and cycle...love remains. Some essential part of us appears to remain, and truth be told, appears to be even more powerful and radiant than what it was when contained in a form. I cannot explain this. I've even had visitations from my father that I cannot explain...one as recently as the solar eclipse of last month. These Mysteries exist for me, and for many others who have/share them. I accept them though I do not have an understanding of how it all works. I don't know how electricity works but I still accept that it is real and I certainly benefit from its powers - and pay a price if I do not respect it!
So for those of us who have lost so much, or even for those of us who may be feeling overwhelmed by the sense of loss that is in our collective these days, my experience is this: nothing stays the same forever. Fulfillment will cycle thru to loss but loss will be transformed to fulfillment once more. The point seems to be to see beyond one or the other to gain a steady point that is beyond the tidal surges this world has to offer. Some may call this Faith or something in that vein... I think it is so very helpful to have something to tether ourselves to that is not so directly bound to this physical world so that when things get thin, here on the ground, we are not swept away in our sense of loss but can remain strong in our knowing that things do cycle. The earth will recover and rebuild her ecosystems and we all go on, one way or another....hopefully with the blessings of good companions, wherever we can find them.
Sally J .Smith of Greenspirit Arts (https://greenspiritarts.blogspot.com) shared this post about her loss of a favorite gardening companion: With heavy heart I write of the sudden illness and departure of my beloved feline companion, Oliver. He was one of those remarkable beings who come into our lives and give us the gift of their love and companionship that takes our own heart to a whole new level of awareness and consciousness.
He arrived mysteriously, walking out of the woods one day and approached me tentatively. He had been abandoned by his previous person because she had to move and could not take him with her. The landlord found him, locked in a room with an open bag of cat food and brought him to his farm which was about a mile and a half from here, as the crow flies, or in this case, as the cat walks. As soon as he arrived, he began asserting himself as the Alpha cat which was kind of amusing because he was not the oldest, nor the largest male here....he was just the one with the most attitude. He kept himself apart from the others in the tribe here and spent much of his time with me, which I enjoyed very much. When I made the move to working outdoors more, on my Faerie houses and Environmental sculptures in 2006, he was thrilled and right from the very first sculpture expeditions, he was my happy companion.
Of course we were just starting out together in the process so we were getting our bearings. He had this trick of waiting till I had my face in my camera so I couldn't see him and THEN he'd jump or wander into the frame just as I was about to shoot it. While this was endearing it was not helpful, especially when dealing with fragile items such as dandelion puffs, so we had to have a little talk and got our roles dialed in a bit better.
He listened very patiently while I let him know what was not allowed while I was shooting. He never quite fully believed me however and was always offing to help. There were times when he was happy to clean a site for me...
which I appreciated and thanked him for his efforts...but his idea of an ideal location (flat, sandy, warm and rollable) was not always what I thought would make for great backgrounds so we progressed in his job duties. During the winter months he often laid by my feet while I worked on building my faerie houses down in the studio. He loved it there and when I realized that the floor was a bit chilly, he got his own chair which he loved to curl up in, even when I was elsewhere. It was HIS chair and no one else dared used it. When spring came it would be time to take the houses out into the garden and set them up for glamour shots. First the houses needed to be inspected...
And then when a shoot was taking place he stepped in to help with a little art directing pointing out which way the doors should go or what flowers to use in the decorations...which was very helpful.
Spring would turn to summer and he'd go with me on foraging trips and was always happy to just doze in the sunshine while I worked on a piece or while I was gathering materials.
But if a twig snapped or a bird ventured near, he was all alert in an instant ready to engage with whatever was showing up in our space.
It's hard to tell which season he loved the most. Spring he adored, of course. He was never shy about water and sometimes I'd find him wading in puddles or at the edge of a pond well up to his elbows and hocks. Summer was for lazy naps and chasing mice and frogs whenever possible. Autumn was another favourite time because he loved the crisp air, the freedom from pesky mosquitoes and the beautiful sunsets which we'd watch together often from the bench overlooking the valley.
But winter was also a time he relished.
I've never known a cat to enjoy snow as much as he did. He'd plow into the new snowfalls, head down, front feet forward and let it spill over him as he pushed forward like a plow tilling a field. He just loved the winter and would be happy when I tossed him an icicle to play with.
He'd get all wound up the way cats do and he'd go a little crazy with his snowplay...just like a little kid.
But eventually we'd have to get back to work and he'd be ever so helpful with his critiques of my latest efforts....he was a very chatty cat and what I will miss most (besides his exceptionally affectionate purring cuddles) are all the verbal conversations we used to have. He literally would chat back and forth with me...but I never quite got the nuances of his comments, sadly.
This past spring and summer was a difficult time for us both. I was working on my book and not outdoors as much as we were used to being together. I knew he was unhappy with not having his play buddie to entertain andimpress. I was unhappy about not sharing high quality time with him, but writing the book just went far slower than it was supposed to and took longer than it should have. On the times when I did venture into the garden and he'd be waiting for me, I could see his disappointment with the situation.
But like so many busy people, I thought we still had lots of time ahead of us. I thought we'd get thru this and then there would be years more of adventures to share and journeys to take together...but sadly, he had a secret brewing in his liver and he didn't let me know about it until it was too late. I brought him in to the vet on the 24th and she let me know that it was probably not treatable. I was in total shock and despair...which is not a good place to be in if you need to act quickly and try other options. He still looked so good and despite a few changes which were completely reasonable to expect in an older cat, still seemed "himself"...and he enjoyed keeping track of what I was doing in the garden.
This image was taken last week-end, just 4 days after his diagnosis. We were on track for some intensive alternative therapy work and fabulous supplements and products were ordered to help fight his cancer. I was very hopeful. Animal communicators were very positive...it all seemed like we had every chance of at least extending his life a little bit, but alas, on Wednesday his condition changed, and by Thursday morning it was clear that his body was no longer able to support his big Spirit. He passed peacefully in my arms in the garden on a gorgeous late summer afternoon.
I cannot imagine life without him...and I know he will visit me in Spirit when he can...but the suddenness of this loss is very sharp right now and my grief is very deep. He brought such joy and delight with him when he walked out of the woods 14 years ago and I never took our time together for granted. I just wish I had not been so distracted this early summer with the book project. I might have seen the subtle clues that he was not well....but I can't linger too much on the "what ifs"...it is done. He has made his transition, and on a day of a powerful solar eclipse too so there is perfection in all of this, even if I can't see or accept it fully right now. For me, my heart is just hurting and I need to give the process full measure and the respect it deserves because grieving a loss well is how we get over/through it best.