So here are the next stages of gessoing and then painting the papier mache cat... I decided to make him as a tribute to our beloved Caesar who passed away in January. That's why he's blue and has stars on him.
He just needs some finishing touches until he's completed, though I'm still not sure what colour to paint the stars.
For those of you who asked, I only used newspaper (folded into a tube, balled up, or twisted or manipulated into various shapes as needed) and masking tape to make the cat's body, tail, paws and head. Card was used for the ears. No wire or other support was necessary, but you can be quite creative about what to use as support - including the cardboard rolls from finished rolls of toilet paper, old plastic yoghurt pots, pipecleaners, chicken wire, you name it. It doesn't have to be fancy and it all depends on what shapes you are trying to create.
You just have to make sure everything is tightly packed and secured before you start laying down the strips of newspaper with the paste, and ensure you paste 3 - 5 layers of newspaper over the entire cat. Then, leave to dry completely before painting. Don't worry if it seems messy while you're pasting. Once it's dried, it looks much better.
I did reshape the cat after one round of pasting and drying, by cutting away bits I didn't like with a craft knife, adding new bits, and then repasting and drying again before painting. Use acrylic gesso as a primer, then acrylic paints for the colour, and if you want to varnish it, you can use an acrylic gel medium instead of other types of varnish.