Vernita and her artful friends: Shadow and Jacob

cats-topBY TEQUILLA MINSKY    |  Vernita N’Cognita, a.k.a. Vernita Nemec, loves cats and has always had them while making art in her Canal St. loft where she has lived since 1972.

There was Molly, then Giovanni, Liz Taylor and Laser Beam.

“My first cat was Pete, when I was three in Ohio,” she recalled.

A few years ago, when a friend found a newborn kitten abandoned outside in a box, Vernita gladly adopted Shadow. He was one week old.

Vernita took him everywhere so that she could keep feeding him on schedule, every two hours. He’d drink goat milk from a doll baby bottle. 

“He’d nestle in the crook of my neck,” she said, “and sleep in a box on my bed.”

About a month later, she got Jacob to keep Shadow company.

Vernita N’Cognita with Shadow and Jacob.    Photos by Tequila Minsky

Vernita N’Cognita with Shadow and Jacob. Photos by Tequila Minsky

The two now-grown felines co-exist, though they’re not particularly friendly to each other.

“They never really got along,” she reflected, “maybe because they’re two males. I never had two males together before.”

As for Shadow, the artist admits that he is stunted emotionally.

“I love the cat and raised him,” she said. “But he never had a mother cat’s love. I didn’t lick him. He really doesn’t know how to be a cat. I think of him as a very philosophical cat. He’s lost in his own thoughts.”

N’Cognita is an artist, a curator, a galleryist, poet and art and butoh performer.

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