To start this DIY Halloween craft, begin with the cat's body. Use a knife to whittle a teardrop shape from the floral foam that's 4 inches tall, 1 1/2 inches thick, and 3 inches wide at the bottom, and that tapers to a point at the center top.
You'll also shape an oval head from foam that's 2 inches tall, 3 inches wide, and 1 1/4 inches thick. From the dowel, cut two 5-inch lengths for the legs and one 2-inch length for the neck.
Drill two holes into but not through the base about 2 inches apart. Glue the leg dowels into the holes. Push the wide end of the body onto the legs, leaving 3 1/2 inches between the base and the foam. Make sure that the body is straight. Then glue the body to the legs; allow the glue to dry. Push the neck dowel into the top of the body; push the head onto the dowel. This is the core of the cat we will paper mache.
Mix instant paper mache with warm water, following the manufacturer's instructions. It's best to mix small batches of up to 1/2 cup of dry paper mache and keep the mixture in a resealable plastic bag while you work.
Knead the mixture until it is a smooth, workable consistency. Keep a small bowl of water handy to moisten your fingers as you apply and smooth the mixture. Use your hands to smooth a thin coat of mixture over the legs and body, applying it slightly heavier where the legs enter the body. Allow to dry overnight.
Apply a second very thin layer over the dried mixture, working to achieve a smooth transition from the body to the legs. Roll two 1/2-inch balls of mixture for the feet. Set the balls on the base in front of the legs. Gently smooth the balls into the legs, forming the feet. Use a modeling tool to carve three toe lines in each foot. Smooth a coat of mixture over the head, applying it a bit thicker on the neck and working to make smooth transitions between the body parts. Allow to dry overnight.
Form two small triangles for the ears and attach them to the head. Apply a fresh layer of mixture to the face. Use the rounded end of a modeling tool to create a big smile. Form a triangular nose with the blade end of the tool. For the arms, roll two tubes long enough to reach from the shoulders to the upper legs. Attach them to the sides of the body, smoothing the edges. Use a toothpick to make a hole between one of the arms and the body to accommodate a wire handle for the pumpkin bucket. Roll a thin snake for the tail and attach it to the back of the cat. Smooth the edges into the body, but curl the end away from the body and form it into a point.
For the pumpkin, smooth a thin layer of the mixture over the exterior of the bottle lid. Use a toothpick to make holes through opposite sides of the pumpkin for the wire handle. When the mixture is dry, gently twist the pumpkin to remove it from the lid and allow the interior to dry. Allow the cat figure and the pumpkin to air-dry for several days to ensure that the inner layers are completely dry. Drying time will depend on the size of the project and the humidity.
Using the photograph as a guide, paint the cat gray. Shade along the arms, tail, and between the toes with black and let the paint dry. Use white paint for the inside of the cat's mouth, orange for the cat's nose and lips and the pumpkin, yellow for the cat's eyes and star buttons, and lavender for the interior of the ears. When all the paint is dry, use neon green to paint the cat's irises; let dry. Use black paint to dot the center of each eye, to add the teeth lines inside the mouth, and to outline the lips and star buttons, then paint the base and the pumpkin's facial features black.
When the paint is dry, spray all surfaces with a coat of matte-finish spray and let dry according to package directions. Then, use black wire to form the pumpkin handle, threading it through the hole behind the arm to finish this DIY Halloween craft.