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Cat tales

Local lady creates feline biographies for pet owners

(Published May 31, 1999)


Staff Writer

Lucy Snow is the reason Capitol Hill resident Joanne Collings works at home. She’s also the object of Collings’ newfound career as a biographer. Lucy Snow is a 4-year-old white Manx with blue eyes who is president of Lucy Snow Creations.

Collings, who is more than your average cat lover, said she got the idea to start a business that produces cat biographies for their owners because she has been observing felines for more than 30 years.

"Unlike dogs, cats are sensitive, independent animals," Collings said. She also called felines "more popular" and "mystical."

In December, feeling burned-out from her job as a nonprofit administrator, Collings said she decided to stay at home and devote time to Cat Tales: The Cat Biography Service and Lucy Snow Creations, which produces personalized cards, collages and other items for cat owners.

Collings said she began creating collages, cards and biographies for her co-workers’ cats while employed at a nonprofit technical program for librarians.

"I’ve always enjoyed writing and using pictures to illustrate them," said Collings, surrounded by her cats Twerp, Precious and Lucy Snow who draped themselves on tables, chairs and a visitor’s lap. Collings said she is in the process of writing a full-length biography of each of her cats.

Collings interviews cat owners about their cats with questions like: What does the cat do when you are home? What do you imagine the cat does while you’re away? How do you think the cat would describe him or herself? How was your cat’s name selected?

Based on the answers and any observations she makes about the cat, Collings writes a biography, which sometimes takes the form of an autobiography, diary or newspaper story. She recently wrote a fictitious nine-page news article about Princess Midgie, owned by a friend in New Jersey. Collings said that since she began the service six weeks ago, she’s done four biographies for free for out-of-town clients. She has yet to determine a price for her services.

"People have been surprised at what they found out about their cat," she said. Collings said one lady even framed the collage about her cat.

Collings has made her own cat Lucy Snow’s story a major part of her business.

"The idea of Lucy Snow Creations is to create a card or collage with a particular person in mind, taking into account their hobbies and interests," she said. The cards are about $10 and a brief questionnaire is used.

"Lucy is a bright cat and she listens," she said.

Collings said Lucy Snow was pregnant when she found her in the blizzard of 1996. For a year and a half, the cat never left the top of a bookcase, said Collings. Collings said she and her husband discovered Lucy Snow feared the floor, so even her litter box was on top of the shelf.

"We fed her up there and had her doing Lucy Aerobics," she said, describing the way she and her husband would lift up the cat’s paws and stretch and move them about for exercise. "She turned out to be the healthiest out of all our cats."

Collings said she’s developing a web site and hopes to submit some biographies to a national cat lover’s magazine.

"You have to have a strong sense of whimsy and organization to do this type of job," she said.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator