‘Yes’? A Quizzical Tuxedo Portrait

Camera outline on a plain background

This is one of those cat photos that you will look at and smile! I invite you to create a caption for Miranda’s portrait yourself.

Sunday Selfie graphic and a cartoon lady and her cat

Miranda was cleaning her whiskers after breakfast and I happened to be holding my camera. I took a few shots and one of them was this rather quizzical tuxedo look a bit like the look a teacher might give you if you disturb the class!

I can almost see the ‘Yeeees?’ in her Professor McGonagle look!

Miranda Portrait Settings

  • ISO 200
  • 50 mm
  • f5.6
  • 1/15

Toulouse Update

He has cystitis and has been on medication this past week – Buprelieve (painkiller) and Clavomox (antibiotics). He finishes the medicine today.

My Cat Got a UTI or The Trials of Toulouse

Brown shaded banner with a faint human figure

Last week’s Thursday photography post was derailed by my favourite model tabby cat Toulouse. Drama and a trip to the vet followed because the darned cat got a UTI!

I hope this post will be helpful for beginner cat owners and those whose cat has never been diagnosed with a Urinary Tract Infection known as a UTI for short. This was a learning exerience for me as the worst we have coped with recently, as a cat family, have been flea allergies, abcesses and scratches.

Know Your Cat’s ‘Normal’

I heard this suggestion from a vet at a cat health seminar here in New Zealand several years ago. He suggested that if you know what your cat’s day to day, normal life and habits are then any change in this will make you sit up and take notice. It was this that made me realise that we had a problem on our hands.

You know, better than anyone, your cat’s moods and behaviour. You quickly learn their likes and dislikes. We can all identify with responses like ‘That expensive cat food? No thanks…’ or ‘All I want is one more Churu pleeeeeze’. Without you realising it, over time your cat’s actions and reactions, foibles and quirks become part of your daily life. They are your cat’s ‘normal’ when life is good.

It’s when things deviate from this ‘normal’ baseline you have a valuable (and free) indication that something might be wrong. Let me relate this to our boy Toulouse to give you an idea of how a change might feel and look.

A bladder infection (often called a UTI or cystitis), is a bacterial infection inside the bladder. Bladder infections are usually occur if there is another medical problem present affecting the urinary tract (i.e. bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease,  etc.,). They rarely develop without an underlying cause and for this reason, if your cat develops a UTI your vet will check for other problems as well.


Realising Something is Wrong

For us, Toulouse has never yowled in the night. Scampers and zoomies yes, sad cries definitely not happened before. Another indicator was his listless behaviour. Our tabby is usually a vibrant and sparky pesonality who chatters, which is his own ‘normal’. Yowls are definitely out of character.

I saw Toulouse sat in the litter tray as I walked into the room. I thought nothing of it until I realised five minutes later that he was stlll there. A faint alarm bell rang but he seemed OK hopping out of the little tray leaving a very small damp patch. He then hurried out into the garden ready to play with his best friend who lives next door, or so I thought.

Later I spotted him in a corner of the garden squatting, again for too long, before getting up and walking a short distance. He flopped down looking glum and subdued. A second alarm bell and I began to be a bit concerned, thinking Toulouse might be constipated, or have a tummy upset.

He came in for a treat which gave me the chance to do a quick body check, running my hands along his body for anything unusual like a swelling, a bite mark or scratch but found nothing.

Poop Problem
If one or several of the organs in your cat’s digestive tract become inflamed, they will experience digestive discomfort and their food could be irritating their system….. [Common Cat Digestive Problems)

Royal Canin

Toulouse seemed to be happy in himself as the day went on, he wanted supper and enjoyed a few treats before bedtime.

But things became a little more serious overnight.

Twice during the night Toulouse yowled rather sadly and I gave him one of his favourite Puree Kisses with .4 of Meloxicam. At this point cat dad and I decided we needed to call the vet when they opened the following morning. This was very out of character.

  • For anyone who has not dealt with an unfamiliar infection of any kind, working out what is wrong with expert help is essential.

Cats Hide Their Symptoms

For less experienced cat owners, remember cats are great at pretending they are well, even if they are in pain.

Cats are resilient and astonishingly good at hiding any kind of discomfort. This is a cause of frustration for every cat lover not just new cat families .

Something is Wrong But What?

I rang the veterinary surgery and explained Toulouse’s symptoms and behaviour. They immediately asked us to bring him down and leave him at the surgery for the day for observation and treatment.

I realised that Toulouse was not well but I had no idea what was wrong and, at this early stage, it could have been a bladder infection or ‘poop’ issue. I have included a quote/link on basic digestive issues, in case your cat goes the ‘poop route’, as well as a link from a trusted British site that briefly outlines urinary problems in cats.

  • TIP If you are in any doubt about your cat’s health, don’t Google symptoms and panic about what you might read. Contact your vet for advice you can trust and a diagnosis you can work with.
Tabby cat playing

A Vet Visit and Toulouse Diagnosis

As with our visit, yours will begin with an examination of your cat and the vet will take note of any thing you can report. If worries about ‘what’ and ‘when’ details vanish from your mind make a note or add it to a smartphone note app like I did for Toulouse:

  • cat spent a long time in the litter tray – Thu
  • not sure if its a pee or poop thing
  • can’t feel and bumps or scratches
  • Unhappy yowling in night – Thu night

It turned out that Toulouse was blocked and could not pee. He was sedated and the blockage removed. After the very quick surgery he was put on a drip to hydrate him.

Toulouse was collected later in the afternoon by cat dad and brought home. He was happy to be back in familiar surroundings but did not really settle until I arrived home from teaching a student and made a gentle fuss on our ‘poor boy’.

To help recovery, the vet recommend that Toulouse be put on a restricted diet of urinary food (Royal Canin and Hill’s) for at least the next six weeks when he has his next check up. From here we only have to convince him that urinary food is the world’s best cat food….


If you are in any doubt about your cat and a possible health issue contact your veterinarian. If we’d have left Toulouse a day or more his discomfort would have got much worse. Imagine not being able to go to the toilet, much as you wanted to,

Never dismiss a niggling worry about something new or unfamiliar. Your cat will thank you, even if they hate going to the vet.

Cat Health Online Support

If your diagnosis is something more challenging than Toulouse’s bladder problems you will find that there are established groups and web sites online. Never be afraid to ask for help.

Some are whole web sites devoted to feline medical conditions as well as Facebook (FB) groups. FB groups have a lot of cat owners who pool knowledge, experience and support.

boxes and tins of cat food in a pile
No Time to Read? Download this post as a PDF!

Austin at Catachresis

Cat on blue background

I realised that I had still kept my interview with Austin of Catachresis so I am republishing this as a tribute to a cat and his Mum whose blog I loved. All blogs should inspire this amount of affection.

Phoebe’s Epic Yawn is Feline Good

Cat on brown background

Sometimes, if you are in the right place at the right time you will be taking photographs and your cat will suddenly let loose an epic yawn!

You need to be ready and have your wits about you. Shoot with burst or continuous shooting mode, and keep your camera or smartphone steady to grab a feline good selfie.

You will be rewarded by a photograph like this one of Phoebe. Isn’t this priceless? If you click the image you may be able to expand it (which is a new thing I am trying out in WordPress!)

There were about a dozen shots that looked like they might be cute and this was the best of those. I enclose the camera settings below.

I blogged with tips about fierce and yawning cats here.

To enable burst mode, you’ll need to find the setting where it’s located. Different devices have burst mode settings in various places, but it’s usually located within the camera app settings. You may need to scroll through the settings to find it.


One important tip for you. When you create a collection of burst photos they take up a lot of space on your digital card or smartphone.

Top tip: Take time to review your photos when you can and delete the images you don’t need.You will quickly see which images are not quite right, where you definitely didn’t capture a yawn.

Phoebe’s Yawn Settings (DSLR)

  • ISO 200
  • 50 mm lens
  • f2.2
  • 1/125

I have started off 2024 with my 50mm lens on my camera. I am curious to see if it presents any challenges when I use it in places and at times I don’t usually have it fitted to my camera.

Finally, have you kept your wits about you and succeeded capturing a fun feline selfie? Let me know in the comments!

A Happy 2024 from Dash Kitten

Blue banner with Dash Kitten logo and blue paw prints

The honour of the last selfie of 2023 should go to our wonderful heroine and arrow attack survivor cat Miranda. She continues to thrive with us thanks to the care of New Zealand’s vets, and her family.

Yes Toulouse continues to tease her but, now we look on this with a bit more tolerance as she can give as good a growl as she gets.

I would like to take this time to thank Janet and Tom and the Kitties Blue for their continued hospitality hosting the selfes, and for the visitors who continue to drop by and comment with such friendly commitment. The selfies is an important part of our week and next year we expect to see Kitties Blue winning a CWA Muse® for one of their wonderful posts and their amazing blog.

I am adding our Christmas card here for you all to enjoy!

A collage of cat portraits

The Beloved Pet Furniture Cat Tree

Cat on brown background

Ever look at your cat tree and suddenly realise it is looking a little bit rough around the edges? The scratching poles are unravelling due to enthusiastic play, the platforms are looking threadbare after being the favourite launchpad for your cat crew. It’s all looking a little bit raggedy and tattered.

You realise that, maybe, the time has come to look for a replacement cat tree. Something that might, with luck, last a lot longer even if it means budgeting to spend a little bit more than you expected. Let me show you the value of a slightly more expensive cat tree that could be perfect for you.

  • Please note this is NOT a sponsored post.

Choosing Your Cat Tree

This is what I did and I recommend you do the same. Start with a plan – this tree will be with you for a long time. Look at your space, the size you might need and how it will look when it’s set up in your home.

I checked online, and reviewed the many models available (lots made in China but these are limited in style and size). I had a budget, slightly more than usual as this was part of my Christmas present from the cat dad, but set one yourself and try to stick to it, (or near it).

I also visited our local pet supermarket. Their scratcher selection did not appeal to me personally. Many of the scratchers were plush carpet and would look out of place in our chaotic and busy cat filled house. Most importantly, none of them seemed tall enough to fit our very specific location.

Cat tree with carpeted centre  posts and wooden platforms.
Tree Showing Base
  • Then I had a lightbulb moment. The local company that created Jack’s custom made senior cat steps, Beloved Pets, might be able to help.

It turns out that Beloved Pets don’t just make pet stairs and fine dog crate covers (that look gorgeous in any living room!) They make a large range of outdoor catio climbers and, exactly what I was looking for, a tall cat tree! Not only are they already trusted suppliers to Dash Kitten, they are a helpful and friendly company so I could ask questions without feeling silly.

If you are looking for a cat tree built to last, I suggest, wherever you are, you check out local craftspeople. Our tree was made to order for our 3 metre (9 ft approx) ceiling space.

What is in the Cat Tree Package?

You will find a sturdy base that the carpeted poles are attached to as you build the cat tree upwards. The base is plain wood and can be finished with a sealant that fits in with your decor [if this is something you need to take into account].

There are three broad, sturdy shelves that make comfortable perching spots and these are a popular look out point for our cat family. We have one low shelf positioned towards the window for Bird TV and the other shelf points into the living room. This second shelf is useful for watching out for first signs of supper and acts as a strong jumping off point for the cat bed on the next level up.

Ceiling Support

One thing I was worried about. Would the cats find the sleeping area too high to reach? It seemed very high to me and I thought it would take a long time for anyone to jump to it, but I was wrong. Our senior cat Sienna is more than happy to be queen of all she surveys by leaping up with total confidence to the cat ‘sleeping cup’.

Cat Tree Assembly

The tree fits together easily with strong metal rods connecting each section and the pillars screw neatly into place. For those who are unsure of assembly Beloved Pets email a clear set of instructions for you to follow. The instructions advise that you ensure the poles are firmly screwed into place, so cat dad strength came is useful here.

Cat reaches up while climbing a cat tree
Senior Cat Sienna Climbs Confidently

In fact, I would suggest that an extra pair of hands to assist with assembling the tree is helpful. This is especially important when you add the final ceiling brace, (which has a degree of flexibility to fit different ceiling heights).

A second pair of eyes helped me get the cat tree straight and then Paul’s height allowed us to tap the ceiling brace upright into place with a hammer (as the interior spring of the brace is very strong).

It is worth noting that the cat tree is a bit more flexible than you might be used to, simply because it is so tall! However, our cats fly up and down at speed and ignore the slight flex of the tree which you can see from the video when Toulouse leaps up to the top.

View looking down at cat tree platforms from above

Who Was First To The Top of the Tree?

Our old cat tree was about 2 metres (6 ft. Approx.) and no-one ventured up high until Toulouse joined the Dash Kitten Crew about two years ago. Once he ventured right to the top others followed so, I was not surprised that he has been the first to scramble right to the top platform. After this I saw Thomas watching with a calculating look in his eye and knew he would venture up soon after.

If you a supporter of small businesses here in New Zealand or around the world, do not hesitate to explore the world of artisan pet furniture. You will find a community full of invention and creativity ready and able to help you with your own cat tree challenges, crate surround issues or wall platforms.

Effective Double Exposure Cat Photos

Ready to transform your cat photos into stunning masterpieces? In this quick guide, I will explore the fun and fascinating world of double exposure on your smartphone, using just one free app called Snapseed. Grab your sense of fun and adventure, your smartphone and some of your favourite cat photos!

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

App used here:

Photoshop Camera (free) calls its filters ‘lenses‘. Explore your own app (if you have one installed) for similar filter functions.

With the power of Adobe ‘Sensei’, Photoshop Camera understands the scene you try to capture and suggests lens effects and filters that can instantly transform it into a unique creative worthy of being posted on social channels like Instagram. It not only makes everyday photos better but also makes it easy to share.


How To Explore Double Exposures

A strong central figure or motif is a great place to start trying out your smartphone app’s double exposure function. After this you will find that it takes a little bit of experimentation to make sure your cat is nicely located for the exposure or filter to work best. For my two images here, one cat is positioned on the right of the photo and the other more central.

If you look at the Window Reflection experiment below, you can see that a lot of the image was originally included is removed. I am guessing that you, like me, will have spotted the alert expression from Candy the cafe cat’s face as he sits upright, and I wanted to focus in on that lovely expression!

The ‘Window Reflections‘ Lens

If you look at the original image it is quite ordinary, a cat cafe customer enjoys furry company. But, Candy’s alert and focused expression caught my eye and I experimented with a bit of cropping to draw our eyes to him before I tried a filter. There was still some busy background but, with a layer of refection all of this background vanishes.

  • Tip: Don’t stress about your background too much until you try a filter. This can successfully obscure your busy background.

Candy is transformed into a cat who appears to be behind a colourful glass window in a busy metropolis with a whole world on the other side. The image creates, for me, a touch of kitty Blade Runner mystery.

Original image – with potential!

The second experiment I tried was a double exposure surprise. It looks like an amazing book cover you might see on the best seller lists. Just add your own title at the top – right?

The Double Exposure Lens

This can transform your double exposure as it did to mine. Each of the four lenses uses a different background and this changes how your image s changed. Miranda is reversed behind the cityscape.

  • Cityscape
  • Forest Landscape
  • Industrial Landscape
  • Rainy Pine Trees
full face photograph of a tuxedo cat

This screenshot below shows you what Photoshop Camera looks like in use. You can see the Windows Reflection lens and the Double Exposure Lens under the main image.

Finally, a warning. You will find that a lot of your experiments will make you laugh! Sometimes your ideas are not going to work, like this experiment of a closeup of Phoebe, our dark haired cat. Sadly, the app thinks she is part of a pine forest! Let me know in the comments if you have had any triumphs or disasters with your own apps, or Photoshop Camera!

Smartphone camera screen with double exposure

See my Snapseed App tutorial here and get creative!

Bonus shot of Snapseed Filter ‘Frame’ showing edge of photographic film filter.

ginger and white cat with camera

Neko Ngeru Cat Cafe is Open

Celebration Banner with Champagne bottle and streamers

Lower Hutt, New Zealand now has its very own cat cafe. The custom made cat space is open for business and as you can see, there are lots of cats waiting to welcome visitors. Neko Ngeru Cat Room is open!

A Little Neko Ngeru History

The cafe opened in Petone in 2017 and was a popular venue for cat lovers with a small cafe linked to the cat room. Regular visitors met there, became friends and enjoyed movie nights and cat game evenings.

The owners, Ken and Richelle Okada were, however, keen to relocate to a more central location and reach more cat lovers. So, the move has been made to busy Lower Hutt. This has taken a lot of commitment, investment and support for the cafe and I am thrilled to report on how great it all looks.

Two cats playing with a colourful ribbon cat toy.
Hey! Who got the other end?

Where is Neko Ngeru Cat Cafe?

The address of the cafe is 215 High Street, Lower Hutt.

The cat room and Cafe Soleil are easily reachable on foot, just a couple of minutes from Westfield’s shopping mall (which has parking). Local buses stop regularly near the mall and there is limited local on street parking.

  • If you are driving, Riverside Car Park is also very close with very modest parking fees.
  • NOTE: This car park is Not Open Saturday mornings as there is a market in the car park.
Cat playing with a colourful ribbon cat toy.

Cat Room Booking & Details

The cat room has an official booking page and there are a few guidelines visitors can read on the page itself. These are to ensure that you, the customer, and the cats in the cat room have the best time you can. Booking ahead helps you and the cafe. You get to pick your time and the cafe knows you are coming!

  • Booking ahead online saves you a dollar on the entry price!
  • Booking ahead also means you will get your preferred time (especially if it’s busy!)
  • Children need to be 7 years and older to enter.
  • Infants are welcome at no charge but they need to be held or in a carrier all the time.

The cat room never gets too crowded with a limit of 10 people at any one time, so you will enjoy one-on-one time with the cats for sure, and there is plenty of room to sit or lounge on a bean bag. The cats make the perfect ‘meowdels’ so bring your smartphone or DSLR/mirrorless camera.

Candy aspires to be a cat photographer

Not into snaps or smartphones? This is the perfect place to simply chill, unwind and watch the cats play. You don’t need to do anything at all! Check the report from New Zealand’s 1 News.

Cafe Food

There is a generous selection of food made on the premises at Cafe Soleil, often with a Spanish or French theme. You may eat down in the cafe, or have your snack/meal brought into the cat room and, yes, the food and coffee are absolutely delicious. The staff are super friendly and helpful to visitors too. Check out the video for a glimpse of the cafe.

Cat Themed Shopping

If you need a gift or want to treat yourself, the new venue has a lovely bright shop with cat-themed merchandise including T-Shirts, cat litter and trays; fun jewellery, gorgeous scarves, cute broches (pins) and cat strollers.

  • The shop is also accessible without paying to visit the cat room.

I hope everyone will support this exciting new venture in Lower Hutt. With delicious food and cats to cuddle the summer ahead looks like it will be a lot of fun!

Candy on a High Cat Perch

Teddy the Tuxedo Cat: A Photo Journey

Pale blue banner with pale circuitry graphic

I have written in a couple of times about Teddy and his journey to us, and I thought I would do a series of portraits, similar to the ones that won me a Muse® Medallion for Sam the foster cat. Teddy, our cat with a tuxedo, is a photogenic cat and can look cute or serious.

The image collection is more variable in quality as, at the time I began to take photos, half my mind was worried about his health and wellbeing, and the other half worried about carrying a camera and making him nervous. I have taken some lovely portraits this year and I know you will enjoy seeing the photograps and the quick slideshow.

  • Tuxedo on the ground rolling in the sunshine
  • Tuxedo cat watching birds, while he is sat on a wall
  • Tuxedo sat in the sunshine
  • Portrait of a tuxedo cat sat by a window looking to our left.
    Cute Teddy Pose
  • Tuxedo cat watches an empty path.
  • Tuxedo on the ground rolling in the sunshine

The first photograph was a rather unfocused smartphone shot but as I tell everyone taking photographs of your cat; a blurry shot that captures a moment is as important as the pinsharp shot you spend hours working towards. The family were just gaining his confidence when I took the first shot and in this picture you can see how thin Teddy is. There is a lot of light between his body and the wall he is stood on.

Teddy began by eating about four sachets of Whiskas a day, he likes Fancy Feast and raw now! He would not come any closer than this spot which is two metres (almost six feet) off the ground and for so long I despaired of grabbing him and bringing him inside.

Portrait of a thin tuxedo cat stood on a wall looking down.
Smartphone Snapshot

After about four months as summer started to cool and the rains set in, we became concerned about Teddy’s future. He had begun to move further down the sloping wall so we waited until he reached a point where I picked him off th wall and literally walked into the house and into our spare bedroom.

Teddy stayed in this safe haven for the next two months and, no he did not want to leave! No bolting out when the door opened, no frantic howling to be let out. He scratched at the carpet near the door but we think this was because he was on his own and wanted to reach us.

Teddy was approximately four years old and had not been neutered. He is in good health and now has his first inoculations (with the booster when he goes in for his snip surgery in two weeks time). He is otherwise in good health and will also be chipped when he is under anaesthetic.

Dash Kitten

During thus time, mid September, I was able to capture this lovely portrait with it’s shallow depth of field, using portrait mode on my smartphone. Your own phone is a great place to start with portraits. No extra expense but if you love the results you will have the chance to create canvas prints or cards because the quality of usually good enough.

Portrait of a tuxedo cat napping in a window bed
Smartphone Portrait mode

The next portrait shows a more confident Teddy and this one was taken with my DSLR camera. Again not perfect but a valuable record of his growing confidence and his willingness to fit in. He was eventually let out of the bedroom during the daytime (supervised) so he could find his place within the Dash Kitten family.

Was Teddy A Lost Cat?

Needless to say we had circulated images of Teddy extensively on social media to make sure he was not a lost pet. Facebook has local lost and found pets groups for most areas of New Zealand.

However, we thought that for him to reach the age of four and not be neutered he must have been abandoned. As you know an unneutered tom can create all kinds of trouble and smells. We had expected the worst before his surgery but Teddy did not spray once when he was inside he has never sprayed.

Portrait of a tuxedo cat sat in a window
Window Portrait of Teddy – (DSLR) ISO 3200 f 4.5 1/400

As time has gone on, Teddy had gained confidence, and found his ‘level’ within the family heirarchy. His favourite toy is Dash’s old circular ball toy similar to the Play and Scratch from Catit. Dash loved it because the ball never rolled out of his reach, he was partially sighted, and it fascinates Teddy.

Tuxedo cat watches an empty path.
Teddy Watching – DSLR ISO 200 f6.3 1/800

After many months, Teddy was able to go outside. This time, however, you can just see the blue cat collar he is wearing and he is newly microchipped. [PLEASE chip your cat or dog!) Teddy looks quietly confident outside and he takes great pleasure from following us round the garde. When we come back inside, he does too. He rarely stays outside long and never after dark, he loves our company.

Portrait of a tuxedo cat sat in dappled shade under a tree
Teddy with Flowers – ISO 200 mm f5.6 1/320
Tuxedo cat basking in the sunshine rolling over
Teddy being Silly – ISO 200 135 mm f6.3 1/800

A Happy Tuxedo Home At Last

Fast forward-ish at Teddy’s ambling pace and we find him in a place he made his own, a large plant pot! This is one of my favourite phographs of a cat ever. Home, in a place he loves.

This is a New Zealand native tree called a Karamu. It is a small tree of the Coprosma family. The tree grows well in our garden and I hope to plant this one outside next spring. This photo appeared earlier on the blog.

Cat laid in a plant pot looking to the left
Posing in ‘My’ Plant Pot – ISO 400 55mm f6.3 1/320

Do you agree with me that this is one happy tuxedo cat who has found a safe haven and does not mind being a cat model in the slightest? A rather special one with a fondness for plant pots.

Other Photo Posts You Might Enjoy:

“Maybe One Day” A Kitten’s Dream

Blue banner of photography gifts for cat lovers

I wanted to showcase a selfie from the kitten photo shoot at the cat cafe some weeks ago.

Black cats are the hardest to find homes for, heaven knows why, and this young kitten looks thoughtful and pensive. It suddenly struck me how thoughtful this kitten was. It’s a lovely photo anyway. (There may be some Javascript errors I am trying to locate them!)

What was the little kitten thinking? Was it a happy soul? Would it spring to its paws in a couple of minutes and race after one of its foster buddies? Was it tired after an afternoon of busy play?

Who knows but I hope, as a black kitten it found a loving home.

Kitten leaning on a shoe
Dash Kitten
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