Parker thinks he’s a normal cat, says his “mom,” Jessica. Granted, he can’t carry his tail proudly in the air like most kitties, and it can’t be denied that his walk is a bit crooked. But he runs about and plays like most young cats, pounces on his favorite toys (catnip mice), teases his big “brother,” Captain (another ginger cat), loves to cuddle with his humans, and has a healthy appetite (too healthy, sometimes, Jessica admits).
A Photogenic Kitty
Parker is also a Plow & Hearth pet model.
You may have seen Parker in our catalog and on our web site over the past year, lounging around in our latest pet beds like the Kitten Caboodle Cat Bed Pouf (#53359), the Rattan Cat House (#53266) and the Waterproof Heated Outdoor Cat House (#52626), or snuggling into our Cozy Comfort Micro Velour Blankets (#93130). But he had a lot of healing to do before he was able to join the Plow & Hearth team as an employee.
A year ago this month, Parker was found hiding behind a woodpile in the parking lot outside our photo studio. Starving, dehydrated, riddled with worms and badly injured, the tiny kitten probably would not have lived through another day had the studio team not immediately rushed him to a nearby veterinary. Though not more than six weeks old by the veterinarian’s estimate, there was no sign of his family, nor any indication of how he might have managed to escape from the animal that apparently (going by the teeth marks in his little body) had picked him up and shaken him, leaving him with a hernia, broken rib, punctured liver and damaged spine.
“He was miserable, but desperate for help,” recalls Assistant Photographer Jessica. “When [Plow & Hearth Producer] Matt pulled him out of the wood pile and handed him off to me, Parker just clung to my shirt, crying. I knew right away that I wanted to adopt him.”
Parker relaxing between takes.
A New Home
It was the best thing that could have happened to Parker (whose name was inspired by the parking lot in which he was found). Jessica’s fiancé, Hayes, works from a home office, so he was able to give Parker the frequent attention, feeding and treatment the kitten required after the surgery for his hernia and liver. Before long, Parker became strongly bonded to Hayes.
“It was like Parker imprinted on Hayes,” Jessica recalls with a smile.
Hayes also took Parker to most of his therapy sessions.
“The worst injury was the nerve damage to his spine,” Jessica explains “Every single disc had scar tissue, and he had to go through six months of acupuncture and laser therapy treatments.”
Parker patiently sits through an accupuncture treatment.
Improved Health and a New Career
As Parker underwent treatment, Jessica noticed that, while a little shy with strangers at first, he warmed up to them very quickly. Additionally, he was good-natured, patient and cooperative – qualities that make pets successful models. As his health improved, she decided to try bringing him along on photo shoots where a cat was required.
Good cat models are hard to find: being cute and photogenic (Parker is both!) is not enough. Many cats become uneasy in a strange environment and won’t stay in the beds or cat houses they’re meant to be trying out; others are happy to investigate the products, but get curious when they see the camera pointed at them and break the pose so they can investigate before the shot is taken. Perhaps it’s because he’s received so much care and handling from the humans in his life, but Parker willingly takes direction and stays put (mostly) for photos, making him an ideal pet model.
“He travels so well in the car,” Jessica says. “He doesn’t even need to stay in the carrier during short trips. And he’s very relaxed on-set. Also, he’s very small, which helps.”
Career Kitty: Parker shows off one of Plow & Hearth's pet beds.
Small he is – at only five pounds, Parker is undersized for his age. His veterinarian thinks his growth was stunted from all he's been through. But what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in personality. And unlike many models, he hasn’t let all the attention from his new career go to his head!
“He’s really sweet and cuddly, always sleeps on the bed with us,” Jessica shares. “Very chatty and talkative, and he looks you right in your eyes when he’s talking to you!
“He even ‘talks’ to the birds through the window,” Jessica adds with a laugh. “He’s an indoor-only cat, and sitting and watching the birds is one of his favorite activities.”
And though his body may be small, his appetite certainly isn’t.
“We have to watch his food intake carefully because his system is so sensitive, and he hates it,” Jessica says. “He gets one treat daily, and I think that’s the highlight of his day!”
Want to keep up with Parker? “Like” us on Facebook to see more photos, keep checking our blog for updates, and follow him on Twitter. Parker also appears (along with some other four-footed friends) on the Plow Pets board on our Pinterest page. For a closer look at Parker’s 5-purr products, follow the links above.
Parker (left) with big brother Captain.
Thinking of adopting a pet? Consider one with “special needs” – they need a home, too, and have a lot of love to give. Jessica says that Parker makes all the effort of taking care of him well worth it!