Animal House | Cyndy Waters | Tyra Banks

posted in: Animals

Tyra Banks, the Cat, has an interesting history. Born in 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya, I suppose you can all her a twice, rescued kitty. When I arrived in Kenya that summer and moved in to my little home next door to the boys orphanage I run, I was meet by a tall, handsome, high school boy, Mahale, holding a very tiny kitten. She must have been less than a kilo. Knowing I was a cat lover, he held her out to me and said, “Mum, meet Tyra Banks, our new kitty.” Immediately my defenses went up and I knew this was not a good idea.  A boys’ home filled with about 50 boys, aged 5-up is not a safe place for a tiny kitten. Many Kenyans do not like cats, the doors are never closed at the home till bed time, wild animals still roam, and there is no such things as a “left over”.  A few years earlier, I had brought 2 kitten home to our place there only to lose them and had brought their one remaining kitten back to the US with me.

I was determined this tiny creature was not going to move in with us, but within a few days, she refused to go back to the boys’ house and made herself a permeant member of our family. We were in Kenya for an extended time as I was adopting my 3rd Kenyan child. When we finally came back to Tennessee, Tyra came with us. She would never have survived being left behind. Tyra is a quiet, gentle cat who enjoyed being the only cat in the house.  We’ve had a few friends spend time with us with kittens or cats and she has never been very welcoming. So she has remained and “only cat”, since the death of our other Kenyan cat, Manda Toto. All my children are young adults and it’s just Tyra and me at home.  We have a house full of windows where she is able to watch birds, squirrels, raccoons and opossum, I was afraid when we moved here 2 years ago she would have to stay inside as she might go after the birds, but she seems only inclined to chase after small mice and I’m OK with that. She’s been a great girl to be quarantined at home with.


1976 Graduate from the Art Institute of Atlanta.
Cyndy worked throughout the United States after graduation with jobs such as, Photographer for the State of Tennessee, Official Photographer for the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville TN, after which she opened Paine & Waters Photography in Washington DC. In 1986 she joined Johnson Klein Productions in Studio City, CA . J&K Productions was part of the Woodstock crowd and she photographed Crosby, Stills & Nash and Neil Young among others. In 1995 Cyndy went in to full time ministry and started the Obit Village Project, Inc. developing projects in Kenya, East Africa. While still photographing continually, it was only in 2017 that she began to focus seriously on returning to the photograph circles of photography in the US. Cyndy likes to photograph “reality” in most all forms from environmental portraiture, documentary, travel, landscape and in general, adventure.




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