April 11, 2022 at 3:42 p.m.

Hooray for farm cats

By Stacey [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

    I love cats. My favorite animal second only to cows, I’ve known hundreds of cats in my lifetime. Growing up, our farm was home to countless cats of every color and personality. The feline was a big part of my childhood, and most of our cats offered as much unconditional love as any dog.
    There was a time when I thought that playing with cats was actually one of my jobs on the farm. When I was too young to pick rocks with the rest of the family, my dad gave me kittens to play with in the truck that he parked at the edge of the field. When I was little, I also had picnics with the kittens on our front lawn, wrapping them in diapers I made out of paper towels.
    Farm cats do not always get enough credit, but I feel they are an important fixture on any dairy. They work behind the scenes, keeping those pesky rodent and bird populations in check. They drink up extra milk so it does not go to waste. They eat the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, cleaning up every last bone. Cats know how to cheer a person up with their entertaining antics. And, what could possibly be cuter than a kitten?  
    Our cats lived all over the farm – in the tiestall barn, the pig barn, the machine shed, the granary and the old milkhouse. At one point, my mom fed cats in five different places. She sometimes pretended to be annoyed, but she really had a soft spot in her heart for these furry felines.
    We had the great mousers who could live independently to the mediocre hunters to those cats who said they’d take their nine lives with a big helping of table scraps on the side. Oh, and please don’t forget a serving of warm milk.
    Cats on the farm have a way of multiplying faster than rabbits. There were times we had up to 30 cats roaming the farm. There always seemed to be a cat that was pregnant, and we also welcomed a lot of strays. Some found our farm on their own; others were dropped off when no one was looking.
    When a bundle of black and white came bounding across the field behind our house one afternoon, my mom told us to get inside because she thought it was a skunk. However, it was a cat we eventually named Barbara who is remembered as being one of our best hunters. This long-haired beauty would line up rat heads outside the barn door to earn my dad’s approval.  
    Ginger was another top-notch hunter. She and Barbara had more offspring than we could count but both could have won mother of the year awards for their strong maternal instincts. Mr. Cuddles was a big, black tomcat that was allowed to come into the house to play and take naps with me on my bed. Thomas – a stunning white and orange cat – was given to us by our priest after someone dropped him off on the church doorstep. He was a big ball of friendliness that easily stole our hearts.
    Another favorite cat was Stacey. Yes, I had to name one after myself. She was a beautiful Calico with a charming personality to match. She unfortunately met her fate in the barn cleaner one dreadfully sad day. Then there was Janet, a three-and-a-half-legged cat who survived being hit by a car. She hobbled around the farm but did not let the loss of part of one limb slow her down much.
    The cats’ favorite holiday was Christmas. We always had a tree in the barn but soon realized ornaments had no place on a tree cats could climb in. The cats thought the little red balls hanging from the branches were toys put there just for them. Each morning, we would find ornaments all over the floor or in the gutter.
    Over the years, I have loved and lost many a farm cat. But, they all live on in my memories, and I’m reminded of all the great times we had together when I walk in a barn to do a story interview and find a cat, or many cats, waiting to greet me. I find that most farm cats are friendlier than the average house cat. They love to be pet by anyone and do not disappear when a stranger rings the barn doorbell.
    They say that dogs come when they are called, but cats take a message and get back to you. I’ve known this to be true, but I thought no less of the cat who preferred to do things on her own timetable. Although sometimes viewed as unimportant farm creatures, cats often provide a lot of joy and happiness to the farms they inhabit. If you’re a cat lover like myself, I’m sure you can relate.


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