The December Cat Calendar has been an annual tradition at Arthur for years now. Every December, Arthur staff and the Trent community send off photos of their lovely felines, leaving the editors with the very difficult job of choosing only twelve.
Cats are great! All right-minded folks can agree with that. Yet, despite this universal love for cats (weird non-cat people aside), our furry feline friends still suffer from overpopulation, resulting in strays, sparse adoption (especially for older cats), and a general lack of public awareness or sympathy regarding their well-being.
So, this year, Arthur decided to do something different, collaborating with the Peterborough Humane Society. In doing so, we were able to shed light on the struggle older cats face in getting adopted, and have featured cats still open for adoption. Every cat you see in this calendar needs a loving home!
The Humane Society is a welcoming atmosphere, with staff who are grateful and extremely caring. They go by the official mandate of advocating for the welfare of animals by improving their lives, alleviating suffering, rescuing, providing shelter, healing, facilitating adoption and reducing pet overpopulation.”
It was a heartbreaking reminder to see that many of the cats who had not been adopted were older. This is why we chose not to put any kittens in the calendar, as the kittens at the shelter were already looking forward to their own adoption.
Arriving at the Humane Society with a car-load of models was a sight to behold, as the models, freshly coiffed and decorated with makeup, took to their hands and knees to herd the cats and get them ready for a photo.
Wait, this is a cat calendar right? What’s with the models? Another twist to the typical Arthur Cat Calendar issue was combining it with our Self Love theme. We extend the love we wish to receive to those around us, and this should not stop at human beings. Animals are creatures that deserve an undertaking of care and love, who have always provided humans with solace, comfort and practical care in times of need. From guide dogs to therapy cats, pets play a very important role in our lives, and a love for animals and the world around us is intertwined with the love we aim to find within ourselves.
It was very hard to leave the Humane Society once the shoot was done, having become quite close with those amazing cats after only a brief time with them. The love from these creatures is unconditional. When working with cats, all stressful, frivolous, political thoughts go out the window. Seeing them confined to such small spaces also made parting difficult. This is no one’s fault, as the cats are very well cared for, but at the end of the day, you yearn to see these cats being brought into a loving home and family. Leaving was heartwrenching, and if we hadn’t been on a tight deadline, we would have brought all of them to live with us to become the official cats of Sadleir House.
Everyone involved with hair and makeup was very patient and kind. The über-talented Christie Read has been a registered makeup artist in the city of Peterborough for over six years, operating out of her beautiful home that she graciously offered to Arthur this week. The preparation and shoot was a time for us to reflect on why we do the things we do. The models volunteered their time because they cared deeply for the message we were expressing. Or they just wanted to be photographed.
Each model had a chance to pose with Carbon (December), the star of the photo shoot and Read’s own Humane Society kitty. He was a calm, sweet cat, a little overwhelmed by all the attention.
Of course, to strip down and cuddle with a kitten in front of a camera takes some courage. Arthur chatted with the models to ask what self-love meant to them.
Osas Odigie spoke about his experience in high school. “As a skinny kid, I struggled with how I saw myself. In first year I started going to the gym and working out, but realized it wasn’t worth worrying about all the time. It’s more important to find beauty internally.”
Burlesque performer, plus-sized pinup, stand-up comedian, and Peterborough “size-inclusivity advocate” Honey Davidson gave insight into her experience with self love at the start of her career posing for life drawing classes: “Seeing my body be a source of inspiration for an artist, having my curves captured and fawned over in that way, I saw my body transform. It helped with the dysmorphia.” Davidson suffered from bulimia between the ages of 12 and 21, and modeling helped her overcome the disorder.
“One thing that is really important,” she continued, “is that I want people to take away that to love myself, it’s a choice I make every day. There are days when I am not able to make that choice, to honour and love my body. It is important to lift up models with underrepresented bodies, but it’s important not to feed into the normalization or narrative that a woman with a body like mine is ‘brave’ for showing it. It devalues the fact that I’m a talented model because I’m fat, it fuels the idea that modeling is a heroic act, but it’s not. No other person outside of yourself can give you permission to love yourself.”
Self love is a very private exploration of one’s relationship with one’s self. Self-perception is influenced by external experiences that can often be out of our control. Model Stelios Pappas delved into his relationship with self-love: “When I was younger, I never thought I was good enough. My parents’ divorce always made me feel like I was part of the issue, and I had problems loving myself for that reason. Once I stepped back I understood that anything can be better with good company; you have to be willing to accept good energy.”
Ross Horsley explored how gender-normative stereotypes can be damaging to a person’s self worth. “The societal pressure of being a ‘man’ has always been overwhelming for me, and I have never felt like I fit these standards.
As a result, in high school, I was often the target of extreme bullying. This caused me to suffer from depression, and I often questioned whether or not I would ever be ‘man’ enough to fit in. No one would accept me for who I was, and for a very long time, I refused to accept myself, too. It wasn’t until I came to Trent this year that I changed this mindset. I have never felt more welcome, and it is the diverse and accepting community of students at this school that have made me finally able to love myself for who I am.”
Hayley Emmanuel, who preferred to stay quiet on the matter, also happily participated in the shoot.
We are so thankful to every single model who volunteered their time, Christie Read for her hospitality and cosmetic expertise, Karyn Farr for skillful hairstyling, and Samantha Moss for dashing back and forth from the Humane Society and the set to make this possible. Thanks are also due to Matt Douglas, who volunteered to drive for us.
To love yourself, each other, and the creatures around us is a great responsibility. It can be easy to fall into a cycle of disappointing ourselves if we don’t do ‘well enough’. This is a trap that we can actively try to avoid by being communicative with our loved ones, with ourselves, and by acknowledging the various ways in which life can make the practice of self-love difficult sometimes.
In the meantime, remember: kittens won’t stay small forever, and older cats were once little kittens who needed nurturing, and still do! When times get tough and life gets too real, the company of a furry friend can do wonders for the soul. If you are interested in adopting a cat from the Humane Society, please contact 705-745-7676. The Peterborough Humane Society is located at 385 Lansdowne Street East. To adopt from the Lakefield Animal Welfare Society, another local non-profit option, call 705- 652-0588.
Below are the felines featured in our calendar, which you can pick up anywhere on campus or downtown. Get them before they’re gone! Each cat is waiting to go to a happy home.
Shelia, 3 years old
Natalie, 2 years old
Felix, 7 years old
Bobber, 5 years old
Kiki, 8 years old
Alex, 7 years old
Lois, 5 years old
Diego, 9 years old
Crystal, 3 years old
Naomi, 2 years old
Diva, 1 years old