I have a studio cat now. Her name is Bacon, but sometimes it’s also Blossom, depending.
Bacon came with the house. She lived outside as a stray until mid-June. Around May, I noticed with some trepidation that she looked very pregnant, and then she suddenly disappeared for several weeks. Bacon re-emerged in late May looking haggard, skinny, and exhausted. No kittens.
I put out food and watched her for several more weeks, casually peeking in every bush for any sign of wobbly, fuzzy heads. Finally, my neighbor found Bacon on the porch of a little building out in the corn field with three healthy babies.
After this, chaos ensued until mom and babies were all safely captured, fed, sheltered, fostered, adopted, and taken to the vet. Huge sigh of relief.
In the end, it turns out that Bacon had not three kittens, but five. The majority of them looked oddly fancy for being strays— like Siamese cats, but with extra war paint. They might be a variety of Siamese cats called “Snowshoe Siamese” which turns out to also be the kind of cat that I grew up with decades ago and over a thousand miles away. We live in the matrix. It’s fine.
Bacon/Blossom is still recovering from her trip to the vet, and remains very skittish. She likes to sit up in the center of the rafters of the studio building and watch as I work on my pots. I absolutely love having a cat in the studio. I get to tell her that she’s very clever and beautiful and she blinks at me. I sing to her, which she tolerates up to a point. It’s great. But I haven’t figured out a few logistical bottlenecks yet.
For example, I need to fire my kiln, but I moved my kiln from the previous studio without its venting system because I couldn’t get the fan off of the wall. I was in a time crunch to return the uhaul, and chose to go back for the fan later, but of course have not yet done. It is also very hot and humid outside, and I have not fired my kiln since bringing Bacon home because I am worried about turning Bacon into, well, bacon.
The kiln heats the studio up so much that I only fire it at night, and it still gets suffocatingly hot. In order to fire the kiln, but not suffocate the recovering feral mama cat, I need to:
-install screens and box fans into probably three of the windows,
-retrieve the old fan from the previous studio,
-reinstall it here, and
-create enough ventilation and cool air flowing through the kiln and the studio to ensure that pots can fire and Bacon has acceptable living conditions.
After the pots are fired, I need to find a way to store them safely, which means installing shelving but preferably cabinets in the studio.
So far, Bacon has only broken a couple of dishes, and they were commercial dishes that I had taken from my kitchen and hidden inside the studio (to limit the amount of dishes I used, and therefore needed to wash, so that the dirty dishes don’t spiral out of hand). She hasn’t been interested in anything I make, which is a very good thing. But given her tendency to wedge herself in tight spaces in the rafters, I don’t doubt that she would try it between a couple of coffeepots on a shelf, which might not work out well for either the cat or the pots. Cabinets would be much better.
Bacon/Blossom boosts the overall studio vibe immensely, but in taking on another variable, I’ve accidentally caused a number of delays to my process. Things are backing up, which is comical and also a little concerning. But it also represents a softening of my sometimes militant and unforgiving approach to work, which has not been either productive or sustainable anyway.
I am glad this cat lives in my workspace and complicates things, because I need her to. I think that once everything is finally settled and sorted, I will have a good work companion, and my pots will be fired just fine. I’ll put up cabinets and shelves, and get a chimney for my woodstove and a venting system for the kiln. The season will shift into the fall and then winter will come and the holidays will blast by. Everything will be mercifully quiet for months under the snow, and Bacon and I will be snug in the studio. We’re working on finding our balance together, and eventually I know we’ll find it.