A few months ago we had barn cats at the farm whose mother disappeared. They were just too young to be without their mother & it was unseasonably cold, so we scooped them up and took them to the Cappuccino house for a little R&R away from the brutalities of life as a barn kitten with no mother.
As you can see from the various photos, what started out as skittish and afraid little puffs of dirty, stinky fur - soon became snuggly, soft pets...a lot can change fast in the life of a barn kitten.
We had some medical issues to deal with. Nothing serious and I was told to not spend money on vet bills.... (barn kittens with no mother to teach them to earn their keep by hunting and ridding the barn of rodents, are unfortunately not worth what could be a hefty vet bill in the eyes of a busy farm operation). I get it, I do, but they were now in my cappuccino territory, so I vowed to do what I needed to do to keep these little puff balls healthy.
As a side note, I find this interesting: in my old cappuccino life, one would pay to have an old tire discarded, or would pay for cornstalks and other items for their fall decor at some big box store. In the cornfield state of mind, one would likely GET PAID for that old tire because someone somewhere round these parts would want it for something. Or in my new cornfield life....one would just keep that tire on a pile of other old tires in hopes that one day there may be a use for it... and likely, there would be a use for it at some point - or it just would become a towering farmyard rubber sculpture.
And for the record.... in my land of cornfields, one would never, ever, under any circumstances pay for cornstalks for their fall home decor (read about my experience with that, here).
Back to the kittens.
The kittens had some health issues. I knew I needed to channel my inner farm mindset and respect the animal & do what was right, while still respecting the dynamics of barn life and think twice before I dove into pet motherhood and spent my life savings on vet bills for kittens I could never keep (household with cat allergies)
I turned to research. (Ie. Good ol’ Google... I tend to do that... for more examples of my incredible research skills go here ).
I quickly found what ailed one of the kittens.
I have three words for you....
Feline Rectal Impaction
Its a real thing and I dare my cappuccino/urbanite or non pet owner friends to image search that one.
I knew I was up to my eyeballs in feline crap (no pun intended) and had to take action. One little puff ball kitten had a major impaction and was not eating, very lethargic & stinky...oh was he stinky.
So, after a variety of home remedies, warm water soaks & a web educated diet change, the impaction passed and within a day that kitten was a new and improved cat. His little bottom that literally was a gaping hole, (again, don’t google images unless you really want to....) very quickly & miraculously healed and he was our biggest eater, warm milk drinker & by far the most active. I was increasingly proud of myself as a #farmwife and #barnkittenmother (doing my best to be hip here with hashtags).
They say it takes 3-4 days to acclimate yourself and truly relax when on vacation, which is why anyone who takes only a weekend vacation is wasting time and money. (Note to self...)
These kittens, however, within about 24 hours had relaxed, rejuvenated, and properly acclimated to their warm, snuggly vacation cappuccino resort and their new diet.
They had quickly become true house cats. They played amongst themselves nonstop, they enjoyed their warm milk that they licked out of nice little IKEA-esque porcelain bowls & snuggled with their human redheaded brothers on the couch atop beds made of towels and blankets after their spa appointments (ie daily washings to clean their little selves properly as they were not yet litter trained so they tended to mess the floor of their little bed area and walk, sit in it etc).
They rode in the car with us for school drop off, one insisted on being held and snuggling against my chest non stop (whether I was cooking or working etc- see above photos!) They loved to be held and snuggled and purred all the time.
It was blissful.
Now i have to admit. I’m not a cat person. Only because I’m allergic big time. I want to literally claw my face off if I have a reaction. Sneezing, itchy, itchy eyes and face, runny nose, a hard time breathing.... I “researched” that too and apparently kittens don’t develop the dander that older cats have (that is the root cause of most cat allergies) until later in life.
Who knew... so for those of you who are allergic... note to self: You can probably snuggle a kitten against your face and be fine..... like all baby creatures, they are pure and sweet and amazing.
We had them less than a week. We knew that we would have to eventually give them up for adoption or reintroduce them to barn life somehow since we knew we could not keep them due to the allergies that would develop in my household.
Before the week was up a call came in from the original farmer, that Ms mother cat had returned with another kitten.
Why she and the 4th kitten went away from the barn for so many days, we’ll never know.
After some “this is real life/you can’t have everything you want” discussion, & a few little redheaded boy tears, we reluctantly brought the three kittens back to be reunited with their family.
We snuck (literally... because if you feed barn cats too much, I was told, they don’t hunt and rid the barn of rodents) into the barn multiple times within the coming weeks to bring warm milk as well as meat/juice and other scraps for mama. We also snuck an old towel or two if the evening was predicted to be cold.
This experience was a good one for my boys, to love something so much, care for it, bring it back to health & then return it to its rightful “owner/mother.”
Fast forward through spring and now summer and the mother and barn kittens do not seem to be at the barn. Though one current barn cat does resemble their coloring and could be one of the kittens, now grown up.
Their potential demise is still only somewhat known. We like to think they migrated to another farm or are living somewhere warm and cozy.
Such is the life of a barn cat I suppose.
I’m an animal lover, I value the life of animals and respect them & have learned to really respect their purposes. Especially the purposes of work or farm animals. Farm life has taught me that, with time.
My kids are learning that upfront though as they have witnessed barn animal birth and death (sheep/lambs and other barn cats mostly). It’s an amazing and real way to look at life & another reason I know we are all becoming more and more part of the cornfield life.
So, here’s to our barn kittens, may you be out there catching rodents & enjoying the feasts of mice and rats and who knows what somewhere, with a faint memory of your vacation with us...