When Kyle Cassidy couldn’t find anyone to adopt his sweet West Philly foster cat Stabatha this summer, he started a crowdfunding campaign to pay out-of-work artists to create portraits of the feline, in the hopes that it might help her get adopted.

Cassidy raised $1,108 and paid 18 artists from Philadelphia to the Philippines $50 microgrants for homages to the cat. With their paintbrushes and crochet hooks, the artists created everything from surreal portraits to tiny crocheted Stabathas.

Sarah Burton created this crochet stuffed animal of Stabatha the cat.
Courtesy of Sarah Burton and Kyle Cassidy
Sarah Burton created this crochet stuffed animal of Stabatha the cat.

Last week, after more than two months in foster care, Stabatha finally went to her furever home with her new dad, Robert Roman, and his family in Mount Laurel.

Stabatha, the muse of feline fine artists, has inspired people to create paintings, poems, and essays to her greatness.
Courtesy of Kyle Cassidy
Stabatha, the muse of feline fine artists, has inspired people to create paintings, poems, and essays to her greatness.

“She’s a little hesitant to jump up on laps or furniture, but she’ll rub up against any legs or hands that are in reach, or wander near and meow for pats,” Roman, 49, said. “As Kyle noted, she’s a very vocal kitty, talking to anyone she makes eye contact with or wants attention from.”

Cassidy, a longtime foster cat dad, took Stabatha in after she kept showing up on his friend’s porch in West Philly in June. But Cassidy had to keep Stabatha on his enclosed front porch, separated from his own house cat, because Stabatha was diagnosed with feline leukemia virus (FelV), which is transmissible between cats.

“Every morning when I wake up, and all throughout the day I find myself thinking ‘I’m not on the porch, Stabatha’s lonely, I need to get out there!’ and then realize that she’s not there,” Cassidy said. “And every time I look at the door I’m expecting to see her face out there peering in, waiting for me, but it’s just an empty room now.”

Janelle Aina's purrfectly realistic portrait of Stabatha.
Courtesy of Janelle Aina and Kyle Cassidy
Janelle Aina's purrfectly realistic portrait of Stabatha.

While he misses the cat terribly, Cassidy said he’s very glad he could help Stabatha in her time of need and help her find a home.

“Foster homes are, I think, what animal rescues need the most, always. And who doesn’t want to have a kitten for two weeks?” he said. “It’s always a little sad when they go, but they’re off to live their best, best lives.”

Roman said he saw Cassidy’s posts about Stabatha on Facebook and thought she’d make a good addition to the home he shares with his wife, Alice, and two sons, Lucien, 15, and Viktor, 12. Since they don’t have any other cats, Stabatha’s medical diagnosis was not an issue, he said.

Rebekka Guoleifsdottir created this portrait of Stabatha as part of Kyle Cassidy's crowdfunding campaign.
Courtesy of Rebekka Guoleifsdottir and Kyle Cassidy
Rebekka Guoleifsdottir created this portrait of Stabatha as part of Kyle Cassidy's crowdfunding campaign.

Whether they’ll keep the cat’s pointed name remains to be seen.

“We’re still not 100% sure; Lucien and I have kept calling her Stabatha, but Alice and Viktor have started using Tabatha instead, since she’s not really a stabby-kitty,” Roman said.

Only three of the 18 artists Cassidy paid microgrants to did not produce works, but those who did come through created everything from a portrait of Stabatha as a doctor fighting COVID-19 to a sculpture of her as a wizard, reading from a book of spells. People even submitted essays and epic poems about this stray, one of an estimated 400,000 stray cats in Philadelphia.

This sculpture by Gina Phoenix Leigh imagines Stabatha as "a Catfolk Wizard, testing out a new book of spells that she checked out of the Philadelphia Free Library with the help of her mouse familiar and her trusty library card!"
Courtesy of Gina Phoenix Leigh and Kyle Cassidy
This sculpture by Gina Phoenix Leigh imagines Stabatha as "a Catfolk Wizard, testing out a new book of spells that she checked out of the Philadelphia Free Library with the help of her mouse familiar and her trusty library card!"

With the $253 he has left from the crowdfunding campaign, Cassidy said he plans to help pay off some of Stabatha’s medical bills.

Roman said Cassidy’s Stabatha art campaign was “a really cool idea” and his family may display some of the works created in their cat’s honor inside their home.

“Although right now we’re just focused on making her feel welcome and getting to know her,” he said.