Guess who just showed up, meowing her head off, wanting to be picked up and made over? Lucy - our barn cat, who we haven't seen for about two months. I cried, brought her in the house, opened a fresh can of cat food, and found an old fleece jacket for her to sleep on.
What's so special about an old barn cat, you ask? Well, first off, all cats are special in this house. But Lucy, now nine years old, strolls in with a long story behind her.
She was found by my friend, at about one day old in a blackberry patch, one of six kittens and a starving mother. I took them home to my house, fed the kittens formula at first, until the mother gained some strength and was able to take over. Lucy was the runt. She had a tiny, malformed little face and I wasn't sure she would make it. But she did, and at a few weeks old, when we started the kittens on wet canned food, she stood in the middle of the dish growling at her brothers and sisters. That survival instinct must be why she's still here.
Although we found good homes for four of the kittens, and ended up keeping her brother and her mother (all of whom shortly got spayed and neutered) many of them met a bad ending. Coyotes, the road, and even people who think it's fun to shoot cats (don't get me started) all took their toll.
Lucy was once a spoiled house cat, but by choice decided she'd rather live outside. She moved first outside to our barn, and then to a group of tumble-down sheds next door. We have always kept food for her in the barn, and in turn she keeps it absolutely mouse-free. But stay in the house? Lucy would come inside for a little bit, where we'd bribe her with kitty treats and canned food and lots of petting. But soon, she'd spring for the door, wanting to be out in her world again - one that she seems to have mastered.
But because I know how old Lucy is, at nine years, I began to worry about her. Besides that, she has become increasingly feral, not showing her face at all for sometimes weeks or months at a time, or wanting to be seen or caught. So imagine my surprise when mid-day today I heard Lucy meowing in the bushes, over and over, obviously announcing her presence. Silly Cat. Within a few minutes, I had her in my arms and she was purring. Right now she is napping on top of the clothes dryer, perfectly happy. I wonder how long she'll stay this time.
This darn old cat, with a mind of her own, will always have a home with us. Inside or out.
Do you have a cat that comes and goes? Do you worry about them?