While I've had wonderful cats around the barn for years, I lost my earlier love for them, thanks in part to Cliff's attitude that had rubbed off on me: he hates cat hair, cat poop, and all the other side effects of keeping feline companions. We both respected them for keeping the mouse population down in the barn, and there have even been a couple mother cats over the years that I can truthfully say I loved, as long as they were "over there". I didn't pet them or try to keep them tame, since I didn't want them on my doorstep, or climbing on window screens ruining them.
A time came in the summer of 2011 when we were cat-free. I was fine with that. Then some neighbors suddenly had to move and didn't have the option of taking a cat with them. They'd been gone perhaps a month when the mostly white female cat started moving new-born kittens over here into the lean-to of our barn. I didn't intend to make them welcome, but the half-starved mother was so polite, and not pushy at all, that I decided to do the humane thing and feed her, taking great care not to pet her and her brood, lest they all end up underfoot.
From the time she moved here, Mama Kitty began going with us on our daily walk. This amazed me, since we were walking for 45 minutes every day, and that had to be a lot of steps for a small cat. We'd go outside to walk and she'd be waiting for us.
OK, I confess, at this point I was starting to get attached to this quiet, unassuming cat. I still didn't usually pet her though.
Mama Kitty was a great mother. I was amazed at how she taught her babies to hunt. Click HERE to see an entry about that.
Cliff and I stopped walking when our aging knees and hips said "no more". At some point after that, a couple of years ago, Mama Kitty disappeared for so long, I gave her up for dead. I was amazed when she finally showed up as though nothing had happened.
It got to the point where she would do this disappearing act pretty often. Especially if we went someplace for a couple of days. It was as though she was protesting our travels. Even this year, when I went to Mexico for five days, I got home to find Mama Kitty had disappeared once again. In a day or two she showed up, no worse for the wear. Mighty peculiar, because Cliff was home all the time I was gone.
So I decided to start paying more attention to her. It wasn't hard, since I don't have milk cows, chickens, or dogs, these days. I began petting her often when she was hanging around close by, and even began picking her up occasionally and letting her sit on my lap (I don't like cat hair on my clothes, but you gotta do what you gotta do to keep a good cat around). I started giving her a tablespoon full of cream each morning. Although she doesn't always drink it all, she shows up asking for it anyway, and politely licks at it a time or two. She won't touch it if Jake or Buttons is around, though.
Unlike her loud and rowdy son, Mama Kitty is very quiet. She will meow politely when I talk to her, but it's at such a low sound level I have to listen closely to hear it.
So there you have it. Never again will I fail to show my appreciation for a good cat, so long as they don't insist on moving inside with me.
Be kind to your cat.