Herding Cats

Last year, I posted a plea for barn cats. Leads came and went without success. We have been down to our 2 older female cats, Mama Cat a demure calico and Grandma Cat a sleek black, slender feline. For a long time, both of them have been begging for a male to visit them.

Finally, a litter of cats came to my attention via my sister and her amazing, wild-reaching FB friends. It so happened that a classmate of mine from high school had a couple of mother cats that delivered litters on the same day, she had a total of 11 kittens and was looking to give away a few. That was about 8 weeks ago.

I talked to my old classmate a week ago and she said that she still needed to catch the kittens in order to give them to good homes. I was very hopeful and said that I could pick them up whenever she would like.

Last night I got a text saying she had gotten the 11 kittens caught and we agreed to go get them at 10am the following day.

When Marilyn and I showed up to collect the kittens, my classmate said that it was all she could do to get the critters into a large dog kennel where she locked them in for the night with food and water. As she opened the door, hissing, spitting and growling emitted from the kennel. It sounded like the earth opened up and the devil himself was trying to escape.

Barn cats are different from house cats. Barn cats don’t need to be litter box trained, or comfortable being petted. It is easier however, if the kittens are not feral demons like what I assumed was about to come out of the kennel.

My classmate had to tip the kennel on its end so the kittens  would not zip out as the door was opened. She had donned leather gloves and gingerly reached into the deep barrel of the kennel, she grasped one kitten by the scruff as others were clawing onto her arm and she scraped them off  as she pulled #1 out of the dark.

The kitten was screaming, and the mother cats were zooming around the barn. The farm dog, who had been casually licking his nether-region at the far end of the barn, had decided to chase the zooming mother cats. He chased them around the kennel just as my classmate had placed the screaming kitten into the small cat carrier that Marilyn was holding. One cat scrambled under the door of the barn to the safety of the outside, but the other mother cat attacked Marilyn on the leg, digging her sharp claws right in and holding on for dear life. Once the dog headed outside to chase the other mother cat, the strangle hold on Marilyn’s leg was released and that cat took off in a hurry.

After that first cat scramble, the other 3 babies that we wanted to take home were much easier to handle and move to the carrier. My classmate had mentioned that the first kitten was the one that she hadn’t picked up or touched before and suggested that we switch that one out for one a little calmer, which we did cheerfully and quickly.

Now that we have them at home, they have all had their first bath, a good meal of kibble with milk and a cuddle. They are not nearly as scary as that sound that came out of the kennel when we first met in the barn. We are looking forward to these 4 kittens hanging out in the barn and learning to control the varmints from a couple of very good mousers.


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