BLOG: It’s raining cats and cats
By MEG B.
This post may be a little bit of a gripe session but I will try my best, as always, to use sarcasm and humor to soften the blow.
I don’t quite understand how strangers, who drive past The Farm, can feel comfortable dumping their cats at the bottom of the lane. This is how we came to acquire a few extra cats, not to mention the feral cats that show up on occasion.
Halloween is our resident calico mouser (that’s farm talk for a cat that catches mice) who came as a bonus deal when The Farm was purchased. We knew about her existence, she has her own little cat home on the front porch, and comes inside when the temperatures drop. She is getting up in her kitty years and has some minor eye issues lately but she enjoys being outside and living among the horses. Little did she know that her peaceful existence was to be shaken up with the arrival of Trouble.
Dad Villa was out feeding the chickens when he heard the faint cries of a cat in distress. Like Superman in suspenders, he grabbed a ladder and located the little kitten in the tree above the chicken coop. We’ve all seen those scenes of the grateful, purring kitten thankful to the rescuer for ensuring their safety from the dangerous heights of a tree. That was not the case with this little bundle of claws and teeth. She clawed her way to freedom, using Dad Villa as her scratching post. This little gray and white kitten was scared and obviously not used to being outdoors.
Many people use the bottom lane to turn around on the road and using my amazing skills of deduction, I believe that Trouble had been left at our doorstep to fend for herself. I’m sure the drop-off crew thought, “It’s a farm, they always have cats! What’s one more gonna hurt?”. That’s just plain irresponsible and harmful to the poor cat. What if we would have been the kind of people to hunt cats for fun? Or what if we were the type to believe that cat stew is a delicacy? Just a disclaimer: we are not the type of people to hunt cats and/or eat cat stew.
We gave this little kitten the name Trouble when she gave birth to her first litter of kittens very shortly after her tree rescue. Not very many of them survived because she had been malnourished throughout her pregnancy. We helped nurse the ones that had made it but then came the task of trying to find forever homes for them. If you take a look at the classifieds of any paper, there are a huge number of folks getting rid of litters of kittens. We managed to find homes for all but one little guy. And that is how Mischief came into our lives.
Mish, Mishies, Mish-Mish. Any day of the week, you will find me shouting out nicknames for all of the animals and Mischief is no exception. Although, there is some disagreement at The Farm about his proper name. Dad Villa and Mama Hen call him Backy (short for Tobacco) but I was on a roll with awesome names and thought that the son of Trouble should be called Mischief. My name sounds cooler, therefore I will call him Mischief.
We thought our cat family was complete until we found out that Trouble was expecting again. How did that happen?!? Well, when a mommy cat and a daddy cat meet in an alley…I won’t go into specifics but I can tell you that we were in the process of getting her to the vet to be spayed when she managed to get out for one day. One day! But as the old saying goes, it just takes one day. Thus, bringing the next wave of kittens into our lives.
We again managed to find homes for all of them with the exception of one little girl named Rose. Please note, my niece Sprite named this cat. I would have gone with the name Shenanigans. Eventually, we were able to have all of the cats fixed and avoid another cycle of kittens. I realize that it is very expensive to fix animals but it is a necessary measure to control the population.
You would think that these cats would be grateful to live on our little slice of heaven and would show their gratitude through copious amounts of mousing. But why go through the effort of hunting for food when Mama Hen will just provide mounds of delicious cat food at no cost? Trouble and Mischief now waddle into the house at night for their second meal and potentially third meal if they play their cards right.
Occasionally, we do have a few feral cats show up and bunk in the haystacks. They’ve heard through the kitty chain that a crazy horse lady gives out free food. It can be a bit creepy to reach for a hay bale and come face to face with a big grey tomcat with large yellow eyes. Just back away slowly and hope no one gets hurt. Feral cats were left in the wild to fend for themselves, do not call a certain place home, and are for the most part not socialized. They are also a danger to the other animals and potentially humans on the property. Nothing says fun times like a potentially rabid cat bite. Been there, done that – prefer to avoid the pink shots that are required for humans. Poor Halloween was the victim of a nasty feral cat attack and suffered head wounds.
Concern about this issue isn’t just limited to The Farm. According to this article there is great concern about the skyrocketing cat populations in Chambersburg. Bella Luna, a local animal charity group, offers discounted spaying and neutering services to those that apply. I would greatly advise taking advantage of this offer. And please don’t drop cats and kittens off at some random farm and hope that someone takes care of them. It may just have to get my claws out.
Meg B. lives in Newburg, chronicling life on a small family farm with plenty of animals, fanatical family members, and loads of adventures.