Paws for the cause – Feline artists display their artwork at Marco Island's Esplanade

— Art lovers and cat lovers got together Wednesday evening at the Esplanade. At the July ArtWalk, the human artists got some friendly competition from a new group of artists – the four-footed kind.

For the Love of Cats displayed 14 canvases painted by cats, with a little help from their friends. In addition to the original paintings, the feline artists had packs of notecards featuring their work on sale, and sales were brisk.

The “formerly starving artists” were kittens rescued by For the Love of Cats.

“I volunteer at the shelter, and I’ve taken care of all these cats” who painted the pictures, said Cindy Crane. “I bought the original. It’s called ‘Garden Perspectives.’ These are baby Picassos. This is just inherent talent.”

For the Love of Cats co-founder Jan Rich said once they got the acrylics on their paws, the feline artists were coaxed to move around the blank canvases with toys.

“It took a couple of hours for each one,” she said, and like other artists, the kittens could be temperamental.

“Sometimes they would let you know, ‘I’m not doing any more of this. I want my paws washed. Leave me alone.’”

When Rich was asked how the idea of cat painters came about, Anne Gardner jumped in.

“Two bottles of wine,” she said. Actually, said Rich, the idea had been in the back of her mind, and when artist Inez Hudson suggested a joint fundraiser, it just clicked.

To adopt a kitten, purchase cat art, or support their work, contact For the Love of Cats at floridacatrescue.com, or call (239) 642-8674.

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