I moved to Kansas City, Missouri, in July 2009 to start a life with my new boyfriend, leaving my family behind in Omaha, Nebraska. Little did I know that my happiness would soon fade as I blindly morphed into a wicked misanthrope with severe psychosis. Mac and Lola were my two furbabies from a previous relationship, and I brought them to Kansas City with me. My boyfriend and I decided to adopt Caylee and Bubbles from a local no-kill shelter. I would laugh when I saw that there were FOUR CATS in my kitchen. I was already labeled "The Cat Lady" at this moment in life.
In April 2011, there was an urgent need for someone to foster a mother cat and her five one-week-old kittens. I drove an hour to a small town in Missouri to pick them up. I did not know that this would change my life forever. Betty, the mother, raised her babies Martha, Maria, Luigi, Stringbean, and Blueberry like a professional. Then I found feral kittens in my backyard and of course I started fostering them, too!
As I focused all my energy into nurturing and taking care of the kittens, I realized I was beginning to no longer feel empty or emotionally isolated. While hammering me with constant unusual dilemmas — such as false positives for feline leukemia, infected claws, fleas, and kitten constipation — these furballs became responsible for my sincere admiration and genuine love for cats.
I continued to pull cats from high-kill shelters (especially black cats), who were on the euthanasia list, and I fostered them until loving families adopted them. I’ve fostered Betty, Martha, Maria, Luigi, Stringbean, Blueberry, Vinny, Joey, Willow, Marmie, Casper, Jet, Puff, Little Bits, Tinker, Clover, Frankie, Elmo, Milo, Jaclyn, Poe, Hali, Mister Bits, and Almond, all within the last year. 18 of them have found forever homes. I am still fostering Betty, Mister Bits, and Almond. Martha, Maria, and Luigi have claimed me as their forever mommy.
For a year, I knew I wanted to get all my furbabies tattooed on my arm, each cat with a theme that was unique to their personality and also related to my identity.
Mac, my big black Maine Coon, loves water. He became addicted to water as a kitten when I tried the spray-bottle discipline trick. Mac loves drinking water from the faucet and will sneak into the bathroom in the hopes that you will turn the shower on. On my sleeve tattoo, Mac is located in water with a boat and rubber ducky, to symbolize his obsession of water.
Maria, one of the young Oriental black cats, has a feather in her mouth with her paw on a ball. She is definitely one playful kitty and runs around with feather toys in her mouth. She is absolutely fascinated with birds, whether they are outside or in a movie. (I have a photo of her cackling and swatting at a computer monitor with a bird movie playing.)
Caylee is my older beautiful Maine Coon, who is one of the most chill and sweet cats. I call her Grandma. She is dressed in an apron and baking hat, because I merged my love of baking with her. She is always the first cat to come and eat any crumb. Potato chips, cookies, cereal — Caylee will eat it.
Martha, my small black Oriental baby, is the pirate, because she always reminds me of one when she is napping and suddenly opens only one eye. She also LOVES boxes. Martha will be the first in any box and is definitely the rambunctious one of the bunch.
Luigi, the brother of Maria and Martha, is the most amazing cat ever. He is dressed in a spacesuit with a rocket ship, because his head is usually in the clouds. Luigi is an odd and curious cat with an energetic demeanor that never stops. Everyone who meets Luigi describes him as “something else.” He is truly different. He is my little space cadet, and while he is unpredictably hyperactive, he still is an affectionate love bug.
Lola, my big beautiful Maine Coon (who is Mac’s sister), is fascinated with the outdoors. If the wind is blowing and leaves are flying, she is determined to catch one, even if she is behind a glass door. Lola can sit for hours staring out the window admiring the leaves dancing about in the sky.
Bubbles is an odd kitty, but her name fits her perfectly. While she loves attention and affection from me, she is easily annoyed with all the other cats. Bubbles is one goofy girl and slightly bonkers in the head. Placing Bubbles in a floating basket with balloons with a party hat on her head matches her persona perfectly.
These are my forever furbabies who completely changed my life. Too many people find purpose in life by means of superficial material. I discovered mine simply by saving those that needed me most.
All photos by Kelly Powell. Tattoos by Kasper at Freaks on 39th in Kansas City, MO.