Morris the Cat, the unofficial city animal, has been looking unkempt of late, so based on a resident’s concern, a local artist was recently hired by the city to spruce him up. Morris roamed Gulfport from 1970 to 1985 and was doted on by city employees who would often feed him next to the Casino, which became the location of his “mansion by the sea” memorial pedestal and metal cat-like urn.
“It’s like an old metal bank,” said artist Suzanne Harding of Gulfport, who restored Morris. “I had to strip the old paint off with chemical stripper, use a wire brush and scraper, then stripper wash.”
During the restoration process, she realized the metal surface had texture.
“The paint that was on it before was all one color like a beige-tan with a pink collar, bright blue eyes, a brown nose and some sort of rust brown around where the mouth is,” she said. “I used different colors of Rust-Oleum to give it a little more lifelike texture instead of just a flat statue look. There’s orange in the main part of the cat, then it has a little bit of yellow and brown, a brown nose, a little pink around the face, the pink collar, darkness around the ears and then the blue eyes.”
Harding moved to the area about a year ago and when she worked at the Casino, she would see the Morris memorial every day.
“I was excited to be sought out for this opportunity because this is another piece of my involvement in the Gulfport community as part of the art community.”