Artist Leslie Cobb should be called the patron art-saint of kitty causes because of her devotion and passion to help sick and aging cats that others have cast aside. Not only has she created a home for many of these forlorn kitties, but also donates a portion of her art sales to those cats in need. Her fun loving paintings of cats and their crazy antics have been seen in galleries, art shows and on book covers.
I began painting after losing my 19-year-old one-eyed cat Esmeralda. It started off as a way to honor her memory and manage my grief over her loss. I’ve been painting cats ever since! Initially it was just my own cats or those I made up from my imagination, but since 2009 I’ve been focusing on real cats at sanctuaries, shelters or rescue groups, especially cats with special needs or compelling stories.
I’ve always had cats. Right now I have 7: Tallulah Jane is 13, and I’ve had her since she was a tiny sick kitten handed to me at an art fair in 2003. Riley, the only boy, is 12, and I adopted him from a rescue group in 2004. Annabel, who is now 11, is Tallulah’s best friend, and I adopted her from a local shelter in 2005. Genevieve is 9 and she started out as a foster for a local rescue; I adopted her in 2007 after just a few months of fostering. Vivian, my old lady at age 19, was adopted from a shelter when she was 12. Saffron is the baby of the family at 3 1/2, and she was adopted from a shelter in 2012 when she was just 6 weeks old. My newest family member is 16-year-old Gladys, adopted from a local rescue group last year. I just lost two of my boys 9 days apart in July. Both of them, Rex and Shiloh, were 15.
I loved art in high school and took some life drawing classes at a community college; I also made hand-painted clay jewelry for a few years. But I didn’t start painting on canvas until 1998.
This changes continuously! Right now I’m very excited about a painting I haven’t done yet; I’ve been working up some initial sketches. My kitty Tallulah Jane was my “art assistant” for many years, coming to my shows and hanging out in a comfy bed on my table while greeting customers. I always sold more when she was with me. But she stopped enjoying it a few years ago so I let her retire. My painting will be a tribute to her role at my art fairs. I’ve done paintings of her before but none I was completely satisfied with. She’s my kitty soulmate.
I volunteer annually at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT, and I did an 18-painting series based on the sanctuary. $5 from the sale of prints from those paintings is donated to them. I also support other groups by creating paintings based on their work and donating a portion of my proceeds: Shadow Cats in Round Rock, TX; Little Woman Home for Animals in Huntsville, TX; Tabby’s Place in Ringoes, NJ; Cat Town in Oakland, CA; Brighthaven in Santa Rosa, CA; Tenth Life Foundation in San Francisco, CA; West Milford Animal Shelter in West Milford, NJ; and Alameda Animal Shelter in Alameda, CA. I’ve also volunteered a few times at the Cat Town Café and Adoption Center.
I love using my art to bring attention to cats who might otherwise be overlooked. Most of the cats I’ve adopted over the last 15 years have been considered “unadoptable” by some people. Tallulah Jane was barely clinging to life due to a severe upper respiratory infection. Vivian was a senior who was fear-aggressive toward other cats and required 10 months of desensitization and counter-conditioning. Gladys is deaf, and she has hyperthyroidism and a heart condition. Annabel and Genevieve have damaged eyes from infections when they were tiny kittens. Saffron’s pelvis was broken in two places when I adopted her. By painting them and others like them, and including their stories on the back of the paintings and prints, I’m hoping to open people’s minds to considering cats who are older or shy, who have chronic health issues, or who have some physical imperfections. The fact that selling prints of my art also raises money for the groups that care for these special cats is a plus!
You can reach Leslie online at the following locations:
For a cool gift for your cat loving friends that love baking, check out our awesome Outlaw Kitty rolling pin created for us by Sweet Rolling Pins. Click the image for more information.