Barn Cats

Barn cats are not your typical house cat. I don’t mean that the are feral, more that they are smarter, leaner and more starved for affection. As a child, I LOVED our barn cats. I mean, adored them. They all had names, and personalities. And, whenever possible; they were dressed up in dolls clothes and toted around in a pram. You may not be chuckling yet, but picture this. A grubby, dark haired-bowl cut 5 year old in black wellies pushing a pram with angry barn cats that have been stuffed into her cabbage patch dolls clothing. I remember it. I don’t have to picture it.

The purpose of a barn cat is to keep the barn free of mice and other vermin. For many years, ours have been incredible mousers and successfully earned their keep. However, the 3 that currently inhabit the bank barn have a couple faults.

  1. They are over fed. And over fed barn cats have no motivation to mouse.
  2. They are male. Male barn cats don’t get pregnant and don’t have the same drive to feed their darling little kittens.
  3. They think they are house cats. They want affection so badly that they spend their day following you around mewing or rubbing up against the chickens to emulate being petted.
  4. As males, they also feel the need to spread their wild oats, so to speak, so frequently are off on quests that keep them from taking proper care of their home territory.

To solve the mouse problem at the farm, we had to come up with a solution. We’re a practical type of people. So. When we were visiting our friends with the Elk Farm. They had quite the plethora of adorable, cute kittens who were at the perfect age to find a new home. The interns and I were told “ONLY 2” and had a great debate about whether my mom would really notice if we hid a third kitten in the box we were bringing them home in. We made it all the way down the driveway before deciding we should obey and returned the 3rd to its mamma.

We had picked out a tortoise shell and an orange kitten. Both ladies and total heart melters. However. They were selected to be barn cats, not house kittens, so they were taken out and put in the barn immediately so as to keep us from changing their purpose. We had to rig up a have-a-heart trap to feed them in so that the larger barn cats couldn’t steal their enriched kitten kibble. The tortoise shell was obviously named PATCHES, and the orange one ELLIE.

Patches is more aloof and wild. She’s totally friendly but in a very “I don’t NEED you” type of way. Ellie, well. Ellie she’s my favourite. She’s got spunk. Here is an example.

Ellie and Patches had probably only been with us for a couple days at this point. We were in the Lodge (aka our residence) getting ready for dinner or something after a particularly long day when I heard something outside. I wasn’t sure if it was a knock on the door or someone going into the shed, but… alerted, I opened the door and stuck my head out. I looked all around, but nothing. Weird. I shut the door and there- on the screen door at about chest height is Ellie. She was tiny at the time, probably only the size of my fist. And she was not impressed. I had forgotten to feed them dinner and she was there to let me know. So, I detached her from the screen door, snuggled her into my shoulder and headed off to the barn to make amends.

I think I’ve been forgiven, but with cats, you never know.

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~ by mcquaka on May 11, 2012.

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