All right, so last year I brought a friendly cat to my barn. She isn’t fond of dogs, which is evident from her ability to climb trees quickly once she spots a dog.
I met this kitty when I was over at R’s parents house one evening for dinner. She was a stray, but a sweet stray, which doesn’t happen often in the mountains of SWVA. Often stray cats are pretty feral. She was loving and rubbed against us affectionately until R & L’s dog came outside, which prompted her to dart up a tree. His parents already have a cat named Waffles, so I jokingly called this one Pancakes. Well, apparently despite how sweet Pancakes is to people, she was pretty assertive about the food bowl being hers and not Waffles, so his parents (Waffles and R’s…lol) decided that it was best for Pancakes to find a new home. I needed a barn cat, so I went and got her.
Well, despite my good intentions, Pancakes wasn’t interested in being a barn cat. I released her one evening when Jason and I would be at the barn for a while so she could get used to there being people around at the barn. Of course, Lylah, my brother’s pit bull came running up to greet us in her ever-friendly way and Pancakes darted up the nearest tree and gave us all the stink eye.
When I came to the barn the next day, Pancakes was gone. I was disappointed, but not surprised. She’d been out in the woods originally so I figured she would be able to fend for herself well enough until she found someone else to mooch off of. Sure enough, my best friend who rented an apartment from us called. She had a new outdoor cat, and was it ok if she kept it outside and fed it? (The apartments are pet-free.) I agreed, then suspiciously asked what color the cat was. White with gray spots. Pancakes.
So for the last year Pancakes (occasionally called Zelda-Pancakes, because just Pancakes wasn’t always sufficient) has lived on my best friend’s back porch at the foot of the hill. The apartments are right beside my hay barn, so in theory she was partially keeping up with the barn cat assignment, though in the wrong barn. Well, they moved out of their apartment on Monday to move to Georgia to attend a program that helps to develop missionaries, and were unable to take Pancakes with them, so I was tasked with relocating Pancakes back to the barn, lest my cat end up the responsibility of yet another tenant.
Well, they moved out on Monday and my friend fed her before she left. I completely forgot about her on Monday night. On Tuesday we hauled Paige home from the vet’s, so I didn’t have time to get her then. So yesterday my mom and I went down to relocate Pancakes. Of course she was hungry and attention starved and thought we were the best people ever when we petted on her down at the apartment. My other tenant came out and talked with us for a while, then when we were ready he scooped her up and put her in the cat crate. Pancakes is in firm opposition of the cat crate. She yowls and meows the whole time she’s in it with a sadness that you generally wouldn’t attribute to a cat.
When we got up to the barn Lylah ran inside, ever the helpful farm dog. Luckily we had Pancakes in the crate facing the opposite way so she didn’t catch sight of Lylah before I led her back down to my brother’s house to be kept away from the barn for a while. When I got back to the barn we put the cat crate in the stall and Mom poured the cat food into the bowl slowly and deliberating in front of the crate door that Pancakes was looking out of. The cat was probably drooling because when we opened the door, she didn’t consider her new environment or that a dog chased her when she was here last year, but was 100% invested in the cat food.
We stayed with her while she ate a while, then left her food in the stall and walked out to put the crate away. Pancakes climbed over the stall front and followed us out, exploring the barn with cat-like curiosity for a while, then we led her back to the food in the stall to reinforce that she eats in there. She followed us out in the field briefly to watch us water the horses in the far field, then followed us back inside and to her food before we left, so I’m hoping that she’ll equate being hungry with the apartment where I didn’t feed her for a couple days and being fed to the barn. We’ll see if she’s still there when I go to the barn tonight.