Cats and Sewing

Cats and Sewing


Yesterday I had to say goodbye to my cat of 19 1/2 years, Pudge – Pudgie as we affectionately called her. Renal failure had finally taken its toll over her little body. We counted ourselves lucky to have had her around for 7 months longer than we thought we would. She was terrified of travelling in the car and we were thankful that our vet made house calls. She loved being a California cat and hanging out in her cat condo gazing at the view from the window in my sewing loft. Her last moments were on her favored cushion looking out at her view of the California hillside and San Pablo Bay.

She came into my life a pudgey little kitten,  a companion for my calico cat. She has been with me through ups and downs, boyfriends, breakups and 8 different moves over the years. She really bonded with my husband and accepted him into that inner sanctum of felines.

Pudge and Annie

He was not fond of cats originally (they came with the package, honey) but he was tearing up right along with me yesterday over the little buddy he had gotten to know and love over the last 9 years. When I lost my other cat in 2003, I brought a replacement calico cat home from the shelter, hoping Pudge wouldn’t know the difference. She did. But soon her and Annie became best friends and even though Pudgie was half Annies size, she was definitely the queen cat. Over the years she lost some of her teeth which made her mouth appear to have a permanent Elvis type sneer. It suited her personality. She may have been tiny, but she didn’t take shit from anyone. And if she was gracing your lap with her presence, you better damn well be petting her.
Getting to the topic of this entry, as I lay awake last night feeling great sadness from the lack of her presence, I began to think about how she was not only a big part of

Pudgie using Annie as a pillow

my life, but a huge part of my sewing world. I know this is a common thing as I see other sewing bloggers writing about their cats, too. From casual observers to thread chasers,  our cats find sewing as fascinating as we do.  
Pudgie liked patterns. Only the tissue paper ones that tore easily, of course. She just loved the sound they made on her paws as she walked across them (this was usually after I had spent an hour carefully laying out the pieces on fabric). When I lived in a small apartment I did not have a table big enough so I would do all my cutting on the floor. If I was dumb enough to leave it out overnight, I would discover the fabric ‘rearranged’ and claw marks in the tissue paper the next day. It was like I had my own Tim Gunn critiquing my work and rearranging it in the middle of the night. 

Pudgie liked thread. (I  have heard horror stories of cats ingesting thread, but luckily she did not acquire this habit) Especially thread wrapped in shiny bobbins.  Somehow, she would find a bobbin on my sewing table (especially when it was the last bit of thread I had in that color) and proceed to bat it around the apartment until all thread was unwound. I remember one instance leaving my cats in the care of a friend while I went on vacation. When she went over to feed them, not too long after I had gone, she was horrified to discover a complete tangle of thread throughout my apartment. I had mistakenly left my bobbin storage open and sure enough Pudgie had taken each and every bobbin and had a field day. There was just about every color of thread wrapped around table legs, under the bed, in the sofa. from the living room to the bedroom.  I wish she had taken a picture, it must have been quite a sight. My friend actually tried (in vain) to wind all the thread back up for me!

The stitch ripper/cat toy

There are a lot of shiny things involved in sewing, and Pudgie liked most of them (thank goodness she didn’t like pins). The ultimate for her was the elusive stitch ripper. I estimate I have gone through approximately 50 stitch rippers in 19 years. Pudgie liked to carry them around in her mouth and take them to all parts of the house. I remember when I moved to the U.S.  and I was clearing out my condo. Lo and behold, I found a hidden STASH of stitch rippers that she had obviously been collecting for quite some time. 
I’m sure you know those projects that just frustrate you , you want to rip everything out immediately. That would usually be the time I could not find a stitch ripper ANYWHERE!

The Elvis sneer

Of course, the cat had made off with it. Thus would begin the search – under sofas, beds, closets for the missing stitch ripper, followed by an ‘AHA! Here it is!’ followed by a ‘Bad kitty! and her reply, ‘Meh!
Cats have a predisposition to climb and sit on things that are high up, usually so they can look down on their cat-dom. Pudgie thought the ironing board was part of her personal jungle gym. I could be carefully pressing an armhole, and the cat would simply appear – and proceed to sit on the very fabric I was ironing. It must have been the warmth on her bum. Who knows.

Which brings me to the subject of cat hair. I doubt there is a home sewer with cats whom does not have the ultimate cat hair defense tool – the sticky tape lint roller.  It’s a given that if you have cats and sew, you are going to be lint rolling that fabric a lot through the process of making something! You could lay out the plushest, softest blanket for Pudgie to sleep on  – but she much preferred the expensive silk jersey I had just bought. What can I say, she had refined tastes.

Pudgie could also be my faithful observer, sitting on the desk in my sewing loft as I would put pieces together, or hang out during my agonizing throes of learning to sew a welt pocket. She was happy to just sit there – for hours sometimes – and watch the process. In the last week of her life, as I was ironing a pair of pants I was making, I saw her out of the corner of my eye climbing up onto my desk. Even though her back legs were giving out on her, she proceeded to jump on the ironing board and plant herself on my fabric – and then glared at me with that defiant look only cats have. Feisty right until the end. Making sure I did not forget her. And I won’t. She was annoying, a mischief maker, a constant chatterbox and a purring princess. She was awesome.

We’ll miss you Pudgie.

2 thoughts on “Cats and Sewing

  1. What a wonderful tribute to Pudgie! I have first hand experience on cat's love for sewing. My Soleil follows me throughout the house, hoping I'll go in the sewing room so she can run in. You and Pudgie were lucky to have found each other.

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