By Jenny Kalahar
Puff, the cover model for Jenny Kalahar’s first novel, Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats, has asked to have her essay published here. She was only about five months old when she posed for the book, and she has not worked for any photographer or on any project since. Puff’s commentary is an interesting look at a pet’s side of modeling. Before trying to make your own pet an internet star, a book-cover model, commercial actor or movie star, you may want to read what Puff has to say about her experiences.
Hello, Tails reader people! Thank you for letting me explain my side of the story. It may make you think twice about putting your pet through something similar to what I had to endure for about ten long, grueling minutes. Now, sure—your own Rascal or Wolfgang, Tinkers or Skipper look terrific and have loads of personality, and they get oodles of likes and hearts on social media sites, and maybe even everyone (or, at least your mother) tells you that your beloved pet could be a celebrity, but hold that thought until you’ve read my story.
I have been told that I’m a cranky cat. I demand things instead of politely asking. I want to be petted, but only when it is entirely my idea, and then, when I’ve had quite enough attention, I demand to be returned to my upright position on the floor. I order my siblings around, yes, but that is because I have very good ideas and they have, sadly, so little creative imagination. I don’t like to be startled awake. I don’t like to be disturbed, period. That, too, makes me cranky. I can be very cute and wide-eyed if Mom or Dad is pouring milk and I have no milk. However, if the cute stuff doesn’t work, I scowl and throw things off of the table. These things being said, I’d like to defend my actions for a moment.
How would you feel if you were a perfectly darling young cat, not much more than four months old, and some human grabbed you up, put you on a staircase full of old books, and then repeatedly told you to pose for the camera? “Look this way! Look at the lens! Look at me, Puff! Smile, kitty!” And what if it didn’t happen just the one time, but on the next afternoon, too, because you didn’t pose well enough to meet their high standards. How would you feel?
And was I paid for this work? Was I given a can of tuna in payment? Was I even given an agent to represent my wants and needs during this project? No. And now that I think about it, I don’t believe I even signed a limited-use agreement!
So now, every time I pass my photo on the cover of that book—a book that I receive no royalties for, let it be known—every time I see it I break out into massive kitty hives! Well … I get an itch behind my ear, anyhow. Is it really so hard to understand why I’m continuously cantankerous?
For the second book in Jenny’s series, the Kalahars asked Preston to pose. A book-filled background was set up, and the sun was high and bright. Everything was in place and ready, but where was Preston? She was a no-show that afternoon! The human model was on location, right on time in her assigned wardrobe and perfectly coiffed, but that cat? Off getting a beauty nap or something somewhere on a windowsill. And she wasn’t answering calls.
So, I was grabbed up as a replacement. Let me tell you, people—I wasn’t having it! Long, scratchy, hissy, screamy story made short, you’ll note that Preston is on the sequel’s cover. What you don’t know is that I realized Pressie’s black and white fur was a better fit for that novel’s cover. I was doing everyone a favor, actually. I am, as ever, an unsung hero.
Could I ever again be cajoled into posing for another project? Hmm … I might. If I were allowed an agent, and if certain demands were met: I don’t rise before eleven in the morning; I get a kibble break every five minutes; and there must be a tuna buffet for lunch. Oh, and I simply will not make any appearances to give out pawtographs.
Puffy VanderSnooten, A.K.A. “Puff”
Jenny Kalahar, her husband Patrick, and their pets live in Indiana where she sells used and rare books and writes novels and poetry. She is the author of a fantasy novel about teens stuck with the worst-ever magical power, This Peculiar Magic. Her two novels about fostering cats are Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats, and The Find of a Lifetime. Her collection of nostalgic and humorous poetry is One Mile North of Normal and Other Poems. For more, visit her blog.