January 2, 2013

Chain Reaction

Situations change, and things happen. This year I've witnessed firsthand a chain reaction.

We have barn cats, sometimes lots of them, sometimes fewer. Unfortunately we share this land with predators that like cats (and chickens and guineas and geese and ducks...) Although they are just barn cats, each one has a name and is a pet, tame and well-handled, vaccinated and wormed, and loved.

Extra kittens are given away each spring. I've learned that we cannot keep calicos and color-point kittens - they are too visible to the owls and hawks and coyotes - so although they are my favorites, I find them good homes that are less dangerous. I do have a calico as a housecat.

This spring, because we lost the barn, our female cats had their kittens in places that were inaccessible to humans: in a shed with a falling-down roof, under the pile of burned sheet metal, and in other unknown places. I wasn't able to handle the kittens, and as a result they were more wild than usual. One of the mothers brought her kittens to me early, and Mattie had her litter of two under the tarp that covered the hay, so I was able to handle them. My favorite was Mattie's daughter Angel, below.

And then, because we lost our two Great Pyrenees, we had coyotes come closer to the house. The dogs weren't here to guard the cats and kittens that were also spending their time farther away from the house than in the past, so one by one we lost all but three of the cats. I caged those three for a month until the coyotes had [hopefully] moved on, and I continue to put them away at night.

Then, because we did not have the barn cats, we began to see gopher holes in the yard once again, and squirrels, and rabbits, which all began helping themselves to my garden.

And then we had a mouse in the kitchen. A trap took care of that, but I hate mice in the house.

All because our landscape changed, and our dogs were gone.

We now have Cracker and Juliet to help keep the coyotes away, but I won't have a big barn again. I hope to have a nice snug goat shed in the future where cats can spend their nights and raise their kittens in safety.

Just for fun, a short video of Sissy's favorite playmate:


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