Those who know me know that I have a slight obsession with black cats. Ok, maybe more than a slight obsession. I have a deep passion for the mini panthers. So, when I first ran across this cute illustrated black cat wearing a bright yellow sweater (or jumper if you are English) named Nigel, my heart melted. Literally melted. Who wouldn’t love a black cat in a sweater with his sweet little face? Then I met the creator of Nigel and completely understood why Nigel is so special. His creator, Leeza Hernandez from Leezaworks, is a pretty special lady herself.

When Creativity & Passion Combine

Leeza Hernandez is an absolute joy to connect with. We chatted like we were life-long friends and then proceeded to bond over our love for not only cats, but Nigel in particular. Of course, I needed to know just how Nigel came to be. What was the inspiration behind this precious cat with huge innocent eyes? According to Leeza, Nigel is almost an alter-ego of a beloved cat she had named Hamish when she still lived in the UK. Hamish was a big, fluffy black cat who was bold and brazen and always seemed to get himself into huge predicaments and then look at Leeza with his big round eyes as if to say “what?”.

Nigel is not as bold and brazen as Hamish. He is sweet and timid. But he still finds himself in the same kind of predicaments that his counterpart did, so he still gets to use those big innocent eyes on you, and it works. You can find Nigel in a lot of Leeza’s artwork. She is an amazing artist, and you can see the passion she has for cats come to life in her art. As a cat parent, the settings of a lot of her pieces resonates with me. Cats in the sink. Cats in a turned over potted plant. Cats in the laundry. All scenarios that I have found my cats, who seem to channel Nigel and his “What?” look perfectly. And that is one of the reasons Leeza’s art is so amazing. It is not only cute and stylish, but relatable.

From left to right: Leeza with Jaspurr, Princess Pippa, Cole Jr, & Chippy

Sadly, Hamish crossed the Rainbow Bridge. But his spirit lives on in Nigel. Currently, Leeza has 4 cat companions. Jaspurr, a 7-year-old, one eared grey tabby. Princess Pippa, a 6-year-old Ragdoll rescue. Cole Jr, a black cat rescued by Chris from Cole & Marmalade and named in honor of Cole, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Last but not least, Chippy, a grey tabby kitten who keeps everyone on their toes. I am sure they all give Leeza inspiration for her artwork and illustrations.

The Importance of Giving Back

Leeza knows the importance of giving back. From the beginning, she has given a portion of her proceeds to rescue organizations, starting with Catsbury Park. Leeza participated in a few of Catsbury Park Cat Conventions and was hooked. She had found her place amongst the cat community and loved it. As her business grew, Leeza knew that she wanted to continue to give back. Becoming a Mission Meow Business Partner has allowed her to make a huge impact in the cat community and become a part of something bigger than she could ever do on her own.

The AMEOWZING Leeza Hernandez (photo credit: Mallika Malhotra)

Be sure to keep up with Leeza. She has some AMEOWZING things in store not only for Nigel fans, but cat lovers everywhere. Big things. HUGE things! And I can’t wait! You can help Leeza keep making a difference in the lives of cats in need by checking out her website, Etsy shop, and Instagram page and add a piece of Nigel to your life. You won’t be sorry once you see his adorable face. I promise.

“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.” – Groucho Marx

Slow Blinks,