Thursday, November 12, 2009
Barn Kitty and Her Offspring
Last year in October we adopted a kitty from some friends who moved away. She was a pretty little black kitty who seemed friendly and loving when I brought her home from her perch in the barn at her old home. I knew she was pretty much a barn cat, but I thought she'd quickly make the transition from barn to house without much fuss. What cat wouldn't want to be inside all winter long cooped up with three little kids?
In the house she came, and under the chair she went. We didn't see her for several more hours. No amount of food or bird feathers on a string could lure her from her hiding spot. At one point the kids tipped the recliner over to find her while I was occupied elsewhere, and they came crying to me when she was nowhere to be found! I grabbed a towel and dried my hands with a sigh as I walked into the living room where the recliner sat on it's top and the workings of the rocker were exposed to the big window. Good grief, I thought, what would the neighbors think?!
Sure enough, no kitty was purring quietly under the chair waiting to be nabbed by grubby little hands. Instead, she was up IN the underside of the chair so far you could just barely make out her glowing yellow eyes. Of course, it helped that she was coal-black and the chair disguised her very well. I careful set the chair back down and told the kids she must be hiding somewhere around here and shrugged my shoulders. That set them off on an hour long treasure hunt that turned up nothing. They went to bed that night sorely disappointed in their new house-kitty.
As I let Twerty out before bedtime, a black object shot from the corner of my eye past my feet and out the door. This was not good. Eventually she made her way to the barn.
In the barn she became lovey and purred whenever Colby would bring her a bowl of food, riding around on his shoulders as he fed the horses.
Now, I thought, Now she's ready to come in and be a respectable house cat.
Wrong. The second she came in the back door with me she turned into a crazed maniac, shooting around the room and hissing at me, eventually crouched in the back of one of the high shelves staring at me with those glowing eyes. Good grief! Maybe we should have renamed her Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde! A few scratches and some bloody hands later, she was released back into the wilds of the farm and made her way happily back to the barn, where she continued to purr and ride around on Colby's shoulders.
When spring came she disappeared, only to resurface in the shop with 4 tiny little black fluff balls huddled around her.
The kids were ecstatic. KITTENS! They screamed when they found out. Surely one could be made into a house cat, I thought.
Or not. Barn Kitty made every attempt to prevent us from successfully taming her kittens. She purred when we brought food to her, but growled menacingly when we touched her babies. Now and then I'd sneak one out to bring into the house and love on so he'd get used to people.
Soon I found that she would move the kittens whenever I touched one, and I didn't have time to track them down in the midst of the piles of tools and materials spread around everywhere. When they were old enough to start eating some soft food, Barn Kitty would come out and purr while she ate and growl at the kittens if they ventured forth from their hiding place as if to say, "Over my dead body will you make these kittens friendly with you, lady.", and then she'd go back to purring and eating.
Summer came and the kittens started exploring their world. They learned to hunt. They caught all the leftover mice in the barn and the squirrels in the shop. And they wouldn't let us within 30 feet of them.
Eventually we dubbed one of them "The Brave Kitty". He was the first to take food from our hands, the first to let us touch him, and began to purr whenever we brought him food.
One day we lured him in the house with a whole can of food all to himself.
He hid under the bookshelf only peeking his head out to eat when no one was around.
The next day we lured him in again, and that time he came all the way out from under the bookshelf and let us touch him for brief moments before shooting back out of sight.
The third day we tried to lure him in and his brother decided to try it. He came in, shot past the food and went straight for the chair. Hmm.. I thought, this seems familiar! He had to be extricated after the kids went to bed with gloves and a blanket.
Brave Kitty came back in every day after that, and soon didn't retreat to the shelf at all. Soon he was letting us pick him up and pet him, playing with Twerty, and purring so hard it turned into an odd squeak-purr. He has even started playing with us. He puts up with the girls carrying him around and all kinds of things little kids do to the poor pets of the house.
His brother did come in one other time, followed Brave Kitty in the door and somehow made his way up the stairs to Emmy's room.
We found him huddled behind the furniture with his ears back and wild glowing yellow eyes. Dr. Jekyll Junior, apparently. I called Colby to come up and HELP me get the cat out of the room so Emmy could go to sleep in there. He came in armed with a blanket and I was wishing I'd thought to at least bring my gardening gloves in with me.
Colby closed the door quickly behind him and we had to wait for our eyes to adjust to the semi-darkness of her room. There's no light in that room, but that's a different story altogether.
We heaved up the couch and turned it over, just in time to watch a flying black furball leap up to the top of the curtain rod and turn, hissing at us, before a very impressive acrobatic flip from the curtain to the top of the door jamb to the back of the couch and back to the curtain, where he clung, swinging back and forth and growling with his ears pinned back. Whoa there, Jekyll, jr. A few more trips around the light fixture, curtains, back of my legs, and soon he was caught in the blanket and ready for transport back out doors.
Apparentely Brave Kitty has turned out to be the black sheep of the family, and a happy one at that. We will hopefully have him as part of the family for a very long time. And then... we're going to the pet store. Maybe we'll get a gerbil. Or some fish. Fish would be good.
Posted by Lisa at 9:01 AM