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2007-05-30 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Heckle as Shrek's "Puss in Boots," left, and MJ as "Spider Man," right. Heckle as Shrek's "Puss in Boots," left, and MJ as "Spider Man," right. Spider Man! Shrek! Designing cat costumes is easier said than done. Since every product from cereal to cheeseburgers has merchandising tie-ins with the latest box office hit, shelter cats also should cash in on Hollywood's hottest. It's kitten season so an adult needs a gimmick to stand out in the crowd. Dressing cats up as a popular character just might be the ticket into a great home.

No Edith Head, yet I've long dappled in canine couture. My Afghans, past and present, have a better wardrobe than me. Cats are a more challenging to outfit. I'm fortunate to have some seamstress pals who can visualize feline fashion. Finding willing kitty models, though, can be tricky.

For some mysterious reason, these 2 costumes have been the lucky charm for most of my "movie stars" even before their photos were published. Four weeks ago to coincide with the premiere of Spider Man 3, I planned to feature a Spider Man cat as shelter poster pet. My Cavalier had a tiny disguise left over from Halloween.

I chose a Persian at Babylon Shelter as Tobey Maguire because the breed is usually mellow. He was quite cooperative. I got some cute pictures, but the Persian was adopted within the hour by a nice lady who wanted a cat who would he gentle with her 3 year old daughter. No Spider Man cat photo for the paper- no disappointment either. The new owner called to say how great the Persian was doing.

Bandit in Shrek headband, awaits a loving home. Bandit in Shrek headband, awaits a loving home. The next week I dressed up a tabby Spider Man we then named "MJ" after the Kirsten Dunst role. This sweetheart cat had been seized by the SPCA from a home that made headlines in Feb. "MJ" was amazing. She wore the outfit, including the mask, patiently with no fuss. A few people came down to meet the celebrity but she's still available in C-4.

The second idea was to turn an orange cat into "Puss in Boots" from Shrek the Third. It became a problem finding a small Musketeer hat that would stay on a cat. When I was teaching, I imposed on my seamstress faculty friends. By the next day I had the outfit or prop I needed. Now retired, we meet for breakfast once a month. I brought up the hat at the diner last week.

Within seconds, one talented pal was folding her placemat into various shapes to simulate a felt hat. Next she assembled a better head piece out of the plate of leftover toast. Dripping butter doubles as fantastic fabric glue. When I started laughing at her, she reminded me that I once was the weird kid who wouldn't eat unless I bit my sandwich into a state. (Minnesota is the easiest. Try it.) She was right. I had shared this dental fine art with my students. We were also adept at spelling messages with curved pretzel pieces, dubbed "Bite and Learn" by one of my protégées.

Sorry about the toast tangent. Permanent magic marker, black garbage bags, spray paint- I wanted the cat's hat black with a yellow feather, exactly like the movie. But why? Newsprint is black & white. Color only matters when the column goes online. In "Michaels" I found a red satin teddy bear hat with an elastic strap and black boots, modified the hat with the proper plumes, and added some Shrek napkins plus promotional Kellogg's

and Eggo boxes as background. Voilá! The stage was set.

Only thing missingan orange cat. The "Puss in Boots" scene hinged on a Morris the Cat kitten at Babylon Shelter for the last month. When I learned he was adopted mid week, I actually said, "Damn it, not again". Then it dawned on me: Had I lost sight of what I'm trying to do for these poor creatures?

However, I also torture the staff and animals at Oyster Bay Shelter with Friday Post photo shoots. "Heckle & Jeckle", senior citizen, orange declawed brothers, abandoned in a Farmingdale apartment in March, have been waiting at the shelter for someone nicer to notice them. Dare I bother a mature cat with this child's play? You betcha'. Photogenic "Heckle" was a great sport. He kept the Shrek chapeau on the whole time and even wore the boots for a spell. Mission accomplished.

Next day I called Oyster Bay to make sure Heckle's Shrek shots arrived for Petfinder. Seems that right after I left but before my digitals arrived, a kind lady from "Mixed Breeds in Need" signed out both "Heckle & Jeckle". The brothers had been at the town shelter over 2 months…. Damn it, not again.

Movie Star Cats: Seriously, despite the timing, I'm thrilled that "Heckle" shown here (sans his boots) will be a "Mixed Breeds in Need" (561-731-9163) foster. The brothers will be adopted together. Meanwhile "MJ" the Spider Man tabby is at Babylon Shelter but will become a "Last Hope" (631-425-1884) foster soon. (I had an ulterior motive. Cat costumes attract rescue pals too).

Also appearing at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: "Bandit", wearing the Shrek headband, is a 2 yr. Shepherd/Chow who looks more like a tall Shiba Inu. This pup in Cage 29 is nervous in the kennel but a doll when out. He's reported to be good with kids and cats. See more photos on Petfinder.

+Male: "Beach Boy"- lovable black Lab mix found at Oak Beach Cage 6; "Miles"- 10 yr. Cocker Spaniel Cage 31; "Noah"- Chow mix with silly ears Cage 9; "Rusty"-red Husky Cage 35.

+Female: black Chow Cage 51; "Moppet"- Beardie mix Cage 91; "Cali" #18682- tortie Mama cat shown last week- FeLV/FIV neg.

+Free Rabies Shot

Clinic: sponsored by Brook-haven Town Shelter and Suffolk Bd. of Health- Sat. 6/ 9 from 10 AM to 2 PM at Bald Hill Amphitheater, Farmingville- open to all Suffolk residents. Cats must be in carriers; dogs leashed- low cost distemper, lepto, Lyme boosters too. Call 286-4940.

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