Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The unexpected gift - a portrait of Pippen

This is how I once described artist Connie Bowen to a friend of mine:

“It’s as if a cluster of stars were up in the sky, sparkling away, and one day they decided to float down to earth and transform into a person…just for the fun of it!”

That's Connie.

She is as kind, generous and bubbly as she is talented. Last year, after I lost my cat, Dickens, Connie gifted me with a magnificent portrait of my wonderful boy.

This week, Connie again surprised me with a photo of the portrait she painted of my forever cat, Pippen, who I lost last month.

I took one look at the portrait and had to catch my breath, for there was my sweet girl staring back at me from the canvas!

Pippen was a creature of the earth…grounded in every sense of the word. She used her body well. It took her to the three places she most loved – the food bowl, my bed and my lap! She felt so…well…permanent. I never would have thought that something with that much substance could ever go away.

She was the exact opposite of her sister, Star. Gravity can barely keep Star earthbound!

Connie has captured Pippen’s true essence in her breathtaking portrait! I can see Pip’s beautiful spirit lighting my precious girl from within. It IS Pippen, watching over me from her heavenly home in the stars! The confusion that filled her eyes in those last few weeks as the cancer took over is gone, and all that’s left is the love.

Note the angel, there to watch over Pippen…and perhaps me, too.

I wish every person who has lost a dear forever critter could experience the joy of having their furball live on in one of Connie’s paintings...for live on they do!

I have felt Pip’s presence very strongly in the weeks since she’s been gone. As I wrote in my book For Every Cat An Angel:

"A cat can never really be separated from its forever person. Neither time nor space can ever come between them."

And that is exactly what Connie painted.

To learn more about Connie Bowen and her extraordinary books and artwork be sure to visit her website.

Chris Davis

Lighthearted Press
Publishing magical books for animal lovers!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to add heat to an outdoor critter house

For over 7 years I’ve been feeding Sammy, the outdoor cat, on my back deck. No one knows where he lives or how he's survived our recent bad winters, but somehow Sammy keeps going. Even though I can’t get near him, I think of him as one of my own beloved critters.

Last year I bought him a log doggie house, and before the cold weather set in I added a heat lamp for warmth. Sammy doesn’t live in this house, but he likes the heat so much he often sleeps out there all day, and sometimes well into the night.

Many people have asked about what I did and which products I used, so I decided to share that info on this blog.

The above picture shows Sammy in the house. I bought this from Petco online. The house came on short legs with a wooden floor, but Sammy didn’t like the spongy feel of the floor so I cut off the legs and took out the floor.

I bought a 100 watt red heat lamp and housing from Petsmart.

I found it in the reptile area. You can get lower and higher wattages, but I felt comfortable with 100 watt. There were some hen house and barn fires in Portland this winter, and the news said that heat lamps over 100 watts were the cause.

I spoke with a few electricians about how to safely put this in the house.

I hung the lamp on a hook and fixed the wires up in the ceiling. I wrapped a plastic bag around the connection where I plugged the lamp into the outdoor extension cord, and then wrapped duct tape around that. This would minimize condensation.

The electricians said that as long as the lamp and cord were out of the direct rain I should be ok. The peaked roof made this a perfect style for adding the lamp.

Finally, I put the lamp on a remote control converter, which I bought at Home Depot in the holiday lighting department for $10.00. Here’s a link to a similar device on All I have to do is click the remote from inside and I can turn the lamp on and off.
Very cool!

This has worked well for me, but if you decide to give this a try I recommend you speak with an electrician or other knowledgeable person about any safety questions you might have.

I’ve received emails and pictures of other heating ideas from people who are feeding outside critters. Sammy’s house is on my uncovered deck, and with all the rain here in Oregon I can’t put any bedding in there.

However, just for the fun of it I put some fleecy bedding in the house the other day and Sammy refused to go near it. He's probably never seen, much less slept, on bedding. Maybe we'll try again when it's dry.

Sammy will spend 10 hours under the heat lamp while it rains outside. He seems to be awfully content...and that makes me very, very happy.


Lighthearted Press
Publishing magical books for animal lovers!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Paw prints in my heart

If you're the kind of person whose heart and home have always been shared with animals, then chances are you’ve had to say goodbye to a beloved critter a time or two in your lifetime.

I’ve lost many dogs over the years, and unexpectedly lost two very dear cats, Dickens and Pippen, last year. When I took Pippen in to be cremated I decided to have a clay impression made of her paw print that I could keep forever.

Oh, how I love that paw print!

I keep it on a favorite little table in my living room. In addition to the metal stars on the side of the table, there is a beautiful star-shaped stone that says Love Faith Hope sitting next to the paw print. The stone was a Christmas present from a good friend, and was the perfect addition to the tabletop.

The crystal clear impression of Pippen’s nails is particularly special to me, for I was on the receiving end of those nails many a time in our 12 years together. One incident gave me blood poisoning, but hey - I was probably due for a tetanus shot anyway!

I’ve received so much comfort from this clay paw print. My only regret is that I didn’t have them made for all the other critters I’ve said goodbye to.

To learn more about making a paw print impression here is one website you may want to visit You’ll find answers to many questions, and can purchase kits at the site.

You can also check with your veterinarian or local pet crematory– they may have kits for sale directly to the public.

I will always treasure this beautiful keepsake, for the clay paw print matches those that Pippen left in my heart.


Monday, January 03, 2011

2011 - A time for Farewelcome

Farewelcome - it isn't a word, but it SHOULD be!

Over the past few days, I’ve found myself saying final farewells to dear friends while I opened my heart to all the possibilities of the coming year.

The unexpected loss of two of my beloved cats, Dickens and Pippen, left me gasping for breath as the year came to a close. But their sisters, Molly and Star, are already stepping forward and helping to fill the enormous void left in our home by the absence of their siblings.

Star, here in the birdhouse that stands in the cat enclosure, is the one who taught me one of the most important things there is to know about felines – if it weren’t for gravity cats would simply float away.

And mystical, magical Molly brings mystery and the promise of grand new adventures as I gaze at the black and white parts of her that appear in this space-time continuum.
The rest of her is always off in some other dimension.

I feel the presence of both my earthly AND my angel kitties as I step gently into these early January days.

I feared the New Year would leave me uninspired and saddened, but instead I find myself looking forward to each new day with unexpected excitement.

I feel creative and curious.

Just like a cat.