Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The farm cats God provided us

Last July we brought home a 2 year old dog we found on freecycle.  She's a large Sheltie, really large ... more like a Collie.  She looks like Lassie and is, for the most part, a good dog.  She has a bad habit of pawing you when she wants attention, has occasionally jumped on the kids which scratched them, has a bad habit of cleaning the kids plates every chance she can get, and a worse habit of chasing chickens.  But she's a sweet dog, and mostly gentle.

The first day we had her she sniffed around our burn pit, and out crawled a kitten.  It looked to be about 2 months old, and we didn't see any mother or other kittens.  We named her Silver since she was a pretty dilute tortie -- gray and cream.   We were glad to have Silver, because we didn't have any outdoor cats.  There had been a black cat who hunted the property the winter before, but we hadn't seen him lately and he didn't come near us.  Someone else had offered us barn kittens in early summer, but we could never reach her to go pick out some kittens.  We tried several times and repeatedly failed.

Silver, our female "barn cat" although she's more of a garage or porch cat.  My sisters teased us that even our outside cats have long fur, but she really only has a medium length fur.

Later that year, in late August I believe, we found a litter of kittens in the ceiling of our barn, peering down at us.  They appeared to be 2 weeks old, crawling around with open eyes, peering down at us from the ledge above.  We worried they'd fall, so we got them all down.  Unfortunately, the Mom decided not to return to care for them after we'd handled them, so we bottle fed the 5 kittens.   The children named them after famous Revolutionary heroes like Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, and Thomas Jefferson since we were studying that period of history.  Two survived, but one was hit by a car.  That left only Thomas.

Thomas is the striped cat keeping the three kittens warm.  He was a rather weird looking kitten who walked funny, but he outgrew that and is a handsome guy now.

We've had other cats that came around from time to time, but they never stay long.  Silver and Thomas are always here.  They sleep on the porch, along the house foundation, or in the garage.  We feed them cat food, and they catch mice ... and moles ... and birds ... and baby bunnies.  Not enough to de-populate Steve's garage of packrats, unfortunately.  They're friendly and love to be petted, but they love being fed even more.  They're obnoxious when they aren't fed.

Silver had two earlier litters this year, but she was a young Mom.  Both those sets of kittens died within a week.  She gave birth again 3 weeks ago and we were worried we'd have another dead set of kittens.  This time she gave birth in a basement window well along the house foundation, instead of in the garage.  It seemed stupid at first, but it hasn't been.  The kittens are safe, and Silver and Thomas keep them warm.  I started feeding them IN that window well, to encourage her not to wander away from them. 

The family.  Silver sitting up, Thomas lying down with the gray kitten, black kitten, and tabby kitten.  We've looked and it appears that the black kitten is female, and the other two are male. 

The two previous litters seemed to have been fathered by a couple orange cats, whom I haven't seen around lately.  They weren't very friendly, but we knew there were two distinct cats and one was braver than the other.  These three appear to have Thomas for a father, based on color and markings.  The kittens are walking, trying to climb the cement wall around them, and starting to eat the cat food.  Soon they'll all climb out and move into the garage for the winter.

May they live long and catch many mice and moles ... but leave the baby bunnies alone.








Trusting In Him,
April

3 comments:

  1. What a cute bunch of kittens. We had a cat, similarly, find refuge in our garage and give birth to a liter. Fortunately they all survived. It sure can be heart breaking when it doesn't go well.

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  2. Thomas has rather striking markings. I hope this is a successful litter for them and a successful winter in the garage for you! My kitty is a spoiled house cat. Very spoiled. But we love her. Nice to catch up with you. Enjoy your fall...

    Jenn

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  3. I love cats and thoroughly enjoyed your post, April.

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