Every morning, after feeding the horses, sheep, and chickens, I walk inside from the cold winter air happy to be embraced by the warmth of our wood stove. Louise is lying so close to the fire I wonder how she can stand the heat. She wakes from her slumber feeling the cold air I bring in and sniffs the air smelling the scent of the barn. She yawns, smoothes her fur and settles back into her nap. She’s been my constant companion this winter rarely venturing outside.
Her children on the other hand, find the house too confining. They need to go outside every morning even on the coldest winter days, while Louise is content watching me clean, organize, talk on the phone, and cook. I wonder if she remembers those days scrounging for food and shelter.
It was springtime when my son informed me there was a cat living in our barn. I’m pretty sure I would see a cat hanging around the barn I tell him. “I see her almost every day,” he insists. Sure enough, the next morning going into the barn was a sort of tabby speckled cat.
As we climbed the stairs into the loft, curled on a bale of hay, was a small skinny cat, her coat a mottled patchwork of orange, tan, and black. She didn’t run like a feral, but was eager to greet us. We spent most of the morning pouring our affection onto her, and she stayed drinking the love like a bowl of milk. We both agreed she was only a year old, and definitely pregnant.
“Can we keep her,” my son asked? She had already won my heart and a cat taking refuge in our barn must be special in some way. It might be a good to have a barn cat around, I thought. “We’ll call her Louise,” my son said.
When we called the vet, she told us this happens all the time. People don’t get them fixed, and then drop them off along the road when they become pregnant. “You better bring her in the house before she delivers. If the Tom is around he may kill the babies to get her in heat again.” She said. Louise ended up having the four babies the next day in the barn.
Once mom and kittens were all safe in the house, I made it clear; homes will have to be found for the kittens. Well, it’s almost two years later, and my daughter’s is still in love with the two grey kittens. They only tolerate being held by her and are happiest outside hunting in the woods; I call them the grey beasts. Louise never went back to the barn to live and the yellow tabby and black tabby were adopted by friends.