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A Model Cat

September 07, 1986|KATHLEEN BROWN

One weekend at an art show set up on the grassy banks of a shady park, a group of people were clustered. The murmurs of appreciation led one to expect an up-and-coming Rembrandt, or Picasso. But upon inspection, the scene revealed a fluffy red Persian cat holding court, preening and posturing. Undeniably a work of art in himself, he was upstaging the show.

It turns out that the cat, Cinnamon--named for his particular shade of pumpkin-pie-colored fur and eyes to match--has become a celebrity of sorts.

Actually, to say it all happened recently is not entirely accurate. According to his owners, Carol and Rick Gandolfo of Redondo Beach, Cinnamon has always put on a show. Soon after getting the stray 2-year-old cat four years ago, the Gandolfos started taking him for walks on a leash around the neighborhood. People would stop them and marvel and exclaim at Cinnamon, particularly at those disdainful almond-shaped eyes that flash high voltage, and at his face, which Carol describes as "flat but not pug." Although "Cinnamon has always loved attention," says Carol, she admits his personality blossomed as his fans multiplied.

Late last year, a picture of him in a bathtub won the photo contest in the Sentinel, the employee newspaper for TRW, where Carol is a business administrator. An amateur photographer, she submitted the picture of her wet, bedraggled cat, his fiery eyes narrowed to glaring slits, his cat-brow furrowed into what could only be a frown. It may well be the all-time classic shot of a cat's distaste for water.

All the winning photos were published in a 1986 calendar that was distributed nationally just in time for Christmas. In February, Carol entered the same photo in a monthly contest sponsored by Petersen's Photographic magazine. This time, Cinnamon won the grand prize, and his picture appeared in the June issue.

Life at the Gandolfo's hasn't been the same since. People all over the country want to know more about the cat, and they want copies of the photo. There were so many requests that the Gandolfos made a poster of it, an ad for which ran in the August issue of Photographic. "Things have really been crazy," said Carol, who's fielding offers for greeting cards and photo sessions.

The Gandolfos say Cinnamon is the only one of their three cats who likes to hit the road--on foot or by car. Carol says, "He'll wait by the door each evening and let us know with loud and encouraging remarks that it's time for his walk." His outings, she says, are Cinnamon's chance "to see and be seen."

When Fame knocked at his cat basket, he was ready.

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