Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Here Kitty Kitty

The cats that appeared on the fateful day of Maggie's accident seem to have taken up permanent residence at City Limit Stables-- or at least one of them has.

Shortly after they first appeared, the tabby tom and his black-and-white female companion began holding clandestine meetings in our sagging, leaking, mostly empty sheep-barn. One of them would duck-in through a gap below the poorly-hung door, and then a few minutes later the other would follow. It seems our sheep-barn became their love-shack.

One afternoon, I ventured inside to grab something-or-other that we had stored there. Apparently the tom had been lounging inside, and was frightened to the point of panic by my un-anticipated arrival. I was two-steps inside the door when I saw something streak across the floor and then leap through the air. The flying ball of fuzz launched himself straight for the barn's front window. Now, while much of the "sheep barn" is falling apart, the windows are actually in very good shape. I'm guessing that Mr. Tom didn't realize this when he hurled himself at the 2 foot by four foot pane of glass. He hit the glass, bounced off and tumbled to the floor. He seemed none-the-worse for wear though since within a heartbeat he was on his feet again, scrambling for the hole in the bottom of the back wall.

With him gone, I took a moment to look around and found that there was clear evidence of feline occupation. For one, the straw that covers much of the sagging floor was littered with feathers and tiny bones. And, ironically enough, the cats seemed to be using the space in front of the two-seater outhouse as their litter box.

Within a few days of his run-in with the window, the tom disappeared. I saw him one day, about three kilometres down the road. He was loping through the long grass on the shoulder of the road. I guess he had other mistresses to pursue. The female though, did stick around. We've named her Lily. We're not sure why, it just seems to fit. With the tom gone, she's abandoned her stark love-shack for the coziness of the hayloft. There are cat-doors in the barn, so even if the doors are closed, she can easily get inside. Once there, she jumps onto the stall doors, climbs up the posts and expertly walks the rafters until she reaches a spot where she can squeeze through a small hole and into the loft.

I know cats are supposed to be nocturnal, especially cats that haven't grown up being groped and mauled by humans, but she seems to spend her nights curled up amongst the hay, and her days hunting for food. In the mornings, just as I'm about to venture outside to feed the horses, I'll occasionally spot her through a window. She slips out the barn door and glides silently into one of the fields. Under the cover of the tall grasses, she crouches, still as a Sphinx until some small rodent or bird crosses her path. Then she pounces. I've never seen her with her prey, but I haven't been feeding her, so I presume she's a reasonably successful hunter.

The elusive tom does return from time to time, presumably to rendez-vous with his shy concubine. When he's here, his mournful meow echoes across the property for a few days, then the noise stops and he's gone again.

For her part, Lily keeps her distance from us. She's getting bolder, and will sometimes lounge in the sun on the front lawn, even if Muscade and I are outside. But if either of us makes any attempt to move toward her, she's gone. I have to assume that she hasn't been spayed. If that's the case, then I expect we'll hear the cries of hungry kittens sometime within the next few weeks. I haven't decided what to do once they arrive. I'd like to keep one or two as barn cats, but I'm not sure what Lily will think about any attempts I might make to befriend her kittens.

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