"Anonymous Feline Spirits"

Updated 7/18/09

My cat paintings are usually very personalized, displaying feline creatures with highly individualized character. People often comment that they “know” the subjects of my paintings, reminiscing about felines who have touched their lives in some way. I generally use a brightly colored palette with a wide range of deep, contrasting colors.

The paintings in my “Anonymous Feline Spirits” series, however, are different. These cats are very nondescript and impersonal, and the palette is restricted to just a few colors. These cats look ghost-like with no distinguishing characteristics. They are anonymous spirits instead of “knowable” beings.

The difference is purposeful. I wanted to use this series to go a little deeper into an animal welfare issue rather than simply painting some fun cat paintings, as I usually do.

As blessed as I am to have four wonderful felines who share their home with me, I know that there are many cats who do not have homes. Many cats roam the streets or countryside after being dumped by careless people or by being born to un-neutered and un-spayed feral animals. Rather than develop spay/neuter programs that would successfully manage and reduce feral cat populations, many communities adopt barbaric trap/kill programs that actually perpetuate the problem of “nuisance” animals. My community is one of those.

Each day, a number of cats are picked up off the streets of my city Canton, OH, and these cats typically are destroyed immediately by so-called animal welfare officials. Few people know or care about this practice, truthfully. The cats are anonymous to us, and we like to pretend that they are not being extinguished from our world. But they are being extinguished, and it is totally unnecessary.

Allowing spayed and neutered cats to remain in designated colonies is a much more effective manner of managing a city’s feral cat population, as it allows the cats to chase off interlopers, and it inhibits further population growth. Yet communities tend to disbelieve this counter-intuitive concept, and they dedicate precious resources to trap/kill programs instead. Rather than giving cats a chance at quality life, communities tend to take a hard line with homeless cats, rendering them as unknown lost spirits instead of allowing them to remain viable living creatures.

Not only is it cruel to the animals, it is useless in the process of containing the feral cat population. When one cat is taken off the street, many others take its place. With spay/neuter programs and contained cat colonies, however, the population controls itself.

As I have recently become more aware of the efforts of local and national animal rescue groups, I have been moved by the lack of regard shown to feral and other stray cats by our communities. I have felt a pain in my heart for the unnecessary loss of domesticated animals, and I have felt outraged by the lack of responsibility that civic leaders have shown in managing the problem of homeless pets.

My sense of loss and outrage inspired these paintings. The anonymity of these painted felines confronts us with the truth of our avoidance of the issue. My hope is that others will relate to those feelings and appeal to their civic leaders to address this problem proactively.

The “Anonymous Feline Spirits” series is a group of four acrylic on wood paintings, each approximately 12″ X 20″. They are on display at Art Adventures Studios in Canton, OH and can be purchased here.

Art Adventures Studios
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Art Adventures Studios, located in downtown Canton, OH
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