When I moved into my apartment, my usually plucky cat, Mimosa, experienced a shock in the form of a full-length mirror on a hallway closet. Being that she was only 5 months old when whisked away from the shelter, I guess she’d never seen her own full-size reflection before. To this day, she’ll still sometimes either freak herself out or dash and attempt to attack this replica rogue cat who’s entered the apartment. Cats and mirrors can be a quirky pairing, I guess.
Janel Foo is a Los Angeles artist who works in the medium of stained glass objects and knows all about cats and their reflections. To that end, she’s crafted a modern geometric cat mirror that’s named after one of her rescues, Frankie.
While talking to Janel about her cat mirror, I also learned about her kitties’ back stories, the enthusiastic way felines embrace art supplies, and her dream list of Internet celebrity cats she’d like to see admiring their own reflections.
What inspired you to create the heptagon cat mirror?
My obsession with Frankie and Mia and cats in general. My love for cats is obvious to people who know me or follow me on social media — so it was only a matter of time before I would design a cat-inspired object that was modern like my aesthetic.
What did the early versions of the cat mirror look like?
My original idea was to create a cat-shaped terrarium (which might still be in the works), and I sketched a couple of cat jewelry dishes, but I really didn’t feel inspired until I thought of a cat mirror — especially because I love working with mirrored glass.
What was the trickiest part about creating it?
Finding the best geometric shape that lends itself to that of a cat’s head. I went through a few shapes before finding that the heptagon worked best. Breaking up the cat’s face geometrically was also a challenge.
Which famous Internet cats do you think would most enjoy looking at his or her reflection in the car mirror?
I think Maru would enjoy my mirror the most, perhaps if I decorated a box for him. My second is Pompous Albert because I think he would try to figure out if he’s a real cat or a stuffed animal. My third choice is Atchoum because, well, just look at him!
How did Frankie and Mia come into your life?
I wanted another cat ever since the one I grew up with passed away, but I developed a cat allergy. I did research on cat allergies and hypoallergenic breeds then I went from rescue to rescue trying to find a hypoallergenic breed. I was going to adopt a kitten from a rescue event but while I was waiting on it to get spayed it developed an infection so I couldn’t take it. But Mia was there, a beautiful half Russian Blue and a hypoallergenic breed. It was definitely meant to be.
What about Frankie?
My boyfriend discovered Frankie in the backyard of his former residence. We knew that she was feral because she was alone and continuously meowing. We embarked on a rescue mission to catch her that ended up taking three days.
On the third day, we came up with a brilliant plan: We used an old bird cage left by the previous tenants, placed a can of tuna inside, and propped open the door with a stick with string tied around it while we waited patiently for her to take the bait. We didn’t quite know what we would do with her once we caught her — she was so vicious. But once she calmed down and we were able to hold her I knew we had to keep her. She’s named after Frank Abagnale from Catch Me If You Can.
What are Mia and Frankie’s personalities like?
Mia is five and has fully assumed her role as queen bee of the house. She is the definition of cattitude — very prissy and high-maintenance. She sits in the corner of tables for a long time and just stares as if meditating; sometimes she will doze off while sitting up. For the last four years she’s been sleeping — practically living — in a pear box that barely fits her.
What about Frankie?
Frankie is almost one. She’s your typical kitten, curious and playful, always getting into trouble, but still skittish from being on the streets. She loves following the queen bee around and imitating whatever she does like a shadow. If Mia meows, Frankie meows right after her. Their personalities are complete opposites.
As my boyfriend put it best, “Mia is like the rich diva at a cocktail party and Frankie is a scrappy tomboy who always has food on her shirt and a skinned knee.” Mia wants to eat her food with a fork and knife, Frankie eats bugs.
When you’re creating your art, what supplies do Mia and Frankie most enjoy using as toys or napping places?
Mia loves when I get supplies delivered because that means she gets a new box to jump in and tear up the packing paper. She also likes to chew on bubble wrap while I’m packaging orders. She doesn’t so much play with my supplies as sit on them when I need to use them.
Then Frankie gets excited by playing with the cording I use in some of my designs, and she uses my laptop case as a bed. She treats my ruler as a toy and likes to bat it around along with hitting all my color pencils off the table.
Have either of your cats reacted weirdly when seeing their reflection in the cat mirror?
Not really — but they definitely react to how the mirror reflects light.
Janel Foo’s Heptagon Frankie Cat Mirror is available from her site for $78.
About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.