Sunday, October 30, 2016

The disappearing cat mystery is solved

I've wondered several times why Mama Kitty would leave home for two weeks without ever checking in.  I now believe the answer was right in front of my eyes.  I imagine some of my hard-core cat-loving friends had guessed at this already.

Mama Kitty and Jake were on the front porch today when I went out to chore.  Mama Kitty used to lead me to the barn when she thought it was time to eat, but after I brought the kittens home, I only saw her in there once, and she didn't tarry then.  She growled, hissed, and left.  It took Jake awhile, but he finally yielded to hunger.  I give him a separate dish, though.  If one of the kittens gets less than five inches away from him, he stretches out a paw, growls, and slaps the impudent brat.  It's a gentle slap with no claws bared, but it seems to convince the kittens to get back.  

I believe Mama Kitty hates the kitten situation with such passion that she left for awhile, eating cat food left outside by neighbors.  I read years ago that cats get as intensely bonded to a location as to a person... so she finally got homesick and returned, but she still did not go near the barn ever, staying on the porch and begging me to feed her there.  

This morning I got my recumbent-bike-ride done and went out to tend to calves.  There Her Majesty was, meowing at me politely.  I put down the full calf bottles (seems like there are a lot of distractions lately) and gently picked the old cat up... as I mentioned in the last entry, she and I both prefer that I don't pick her up... and slowly started walking around the barn to the front, where the entry door is.  As I approached that door in the dark, she began a low growling.  Now, I don't know about you, but I'm a little leery of having my arms around an animal making that sort of noise, especially a creature with sharp claws and teeth.  I talked softly to her and loosened my grip so if it turned out she meant business I could release her quickly.  

Her growling got louder and more intense as we got to the door, and she even hissed.  I reached inside the door and turned on the light; Grady and Buttons, the kittens, were still in there.  Nervous and ready for anything, I carried Mama Kitty over to the pan containing the dry cat food, set her down very slowly beside it, and stepped back.  She would take a bite, turn toward the kittens and growl, then take another bite, still growling and sometimes hissing.  

In hindsight, I wish I had stayed out there a little longer; I have a feeling she left shortly after I did.  I'll try to work with her several times a day and perhaps we'll work this out.  I really don't want to keep cat food out on the porch because raccoons and possums are bound to find it.  They're already too close for comfort!  If I have to, perhaps I'll give her a pan for food in a different section of the barn or in the shed out by the chicken house, somewhere up off the ground.  Her own special place to eat!

In other news, last night I closed the chicken house door completely instead of just closing the door to the outside pen, so no varmint bigger than a rat could get into the hen house.  Cliff and I set the Havahart trap by the hen-house door and baited it with some bread soaked in bacon grease.  This morning the bread was gone, the trap was thrown... and empty.  

We don't have a lot of luck with traps.  Or possums, either.

No comments: