How to Remember Tabby

Rich and Sharon looked forward to retiring. But, the move proved to be stressful, in part, because their beloved pet cat of 15 years had to be put to sleep.


As the couple sorted through furniture, books, clothes, and their history together, they found so many photos of their “Tabby,” once the runt of its litter that no one wanted.

Tabby takes over.

In time, Tabby, admittedly not a original name, made itself comfortable and master of the house in its own subtle way.

Smithsonian.com referred to Carlos Driscoll who believes cats domesticated themselves. “The cats invited themselves in, and over time, as people favored cats with more docile traits, certain cats adapted to this new environment, producing the dozens of breeds of house cats known today.”

Tabby traveled with the family, ignored visitors, and slept in bed with each of the children in sequence until they grew up and moved out.

How to Remember Tabby


And, Rich and Sharon were distraught on learning that Tabby needed to be free of pain. All those memories pressed Chuck and Nancy to decide to memorialize their pet.

Downsizing makes room

They found they could select their favorite photos and turn them into professionally done oil paintings for their retirement residence.

They could email or upload a photo or photos to an Internet platform where they could discuss their wishes with the pros and turn their photo into a portrait in oil, mixed media, charcoal, watercolor, or pencil.

They could order by size, add or delete a background, request highlights or edits, and even combine images into one portrait.

They eventually settled on a pair of portraits of the same 16” X 20” landscape orientation. And, after discussing the order with the artists, they opted for the mixed-media glicée. That’s a technique that computer prints the image onto canvas for the artist to add highlights and texture, so that it feels like high quality oils to the touch.

According to Chris Chen, founder of Instapainting.com, customers can expect a cat portrait resulting from “the highest quality artwork and responsiveness to customers.”

They’re not alone.

Cat lovers Rich and Sharon are not alone. U.S. households harbor 74 to 85 million pet cats, depending on whether you follow the National Veterinary Medical Association or the American Pet Products Association.

Corralling cats for a formal oil portrait is impossible. Taking a first rate photograph is a bit easier because it is faster. But, expecting the cat to pose is asking an awful lot. So, taking a number of pictures as the spirit moves the cat creates some options.

How to Remember Tabby

Using natural light will make for better images as will getting the camera down to the cat’s level. Letting the cat get used to the camera will calm and eventually bore the animal. Introducing a favorite toy or something new at the last second will catch the cat’s attention, perk its ears, and maybe turn its head.

It takes a helper to get an action photo. Someone needs to handle the cat, tease with a treat, or tempt with ball of yarn. Kittens, of course, are better at such play, but they are also fast on their feet. So, it helps to have the cat wrangler around.

Rich and Sharon are in their new home now, comfortable with many of their old things and some new. They downsized by holding a garage sale, splitting things among the children, and donating much to charity.

But, above their new fireplace are two mixed-media portraits of Tabby, completed by professional artists from their personal favorite photos of their family friend.

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