This week I thought I would interrupt our regularly scheduled program of vegetable updates and agrarian musings for an update on what around here we’ve come to call the Blackbird Farms Crazy Cat Show. (Really, sometimes I feel like I’m running a cat farm with a vegetable operation on the side.)
This all started back when we moved here five summers ago and realized that the previous owners almost certainly abandoned all their cats when they left the house. Our first night in the farmhouse, sure enough, there was an orange tabby outside the slider ready to be let back in. And as the days and weeks went by, we saw more and more cats lurking and lounging and skulking and stalking here and there about the property—I think we counted somewhere north of a dozen. Not wanting a dozen to become five dozen, I spent that fall trapping cats and delivering them for neutering to Carol’s Ferals. Friends would happen to call me while I was picking up or dropping off a load of trapped cats and hear all that howling and yowling in the background and think—well, I’m not sure what they thought. Those were awkward conversations. That was a weird month.
Since then those original cats have been replaced by others, who either find their way here on their own or are dropped off by others. (If this is you, please stop it.) Which means I need to spend another month trapping cats. It was on the to-do list early this spring before the season got in full swing, but it didn’t happen. I’m too busy now, so I’m hoping to get to it late this fall after things wind down. Because we, again, have something of a cat problem.
One of the main culprits is a black and grey tabby we’ve named Bandit. She bears litters of kittens pretty reliably, and many of the cats around here are hers. One of her daughters we call Ninja, because she is small and grey and fast and really good at darting into the house (where she does not belong) and then disappearing. She had a litter of kittens less than a month ago, her first, all grey just like her. She stashed them in a little cubby under the porch right by the back door, and they cry and cry every time we come or go.
And then there’s Old Man Cat. He’s been on the margins of the farm since we moved here, but this season for some reason he decided to adopt us. He hacks and sneezes and drools when he sleeps, and he has open sores behind his ears that won’t heal because he keeps scratching them. And I’ve never known a needier cat. Always wanting to be near you, to be petted, to be picked up. He waits for you to return home, right by the driveway, or sometimes right in the middle of the driveway, and won’t move, even if you honk your horn at him. And if you come for a visit and leave your car window down or truck door open, why he’ll just hop right in like he owns it and curl up on the floor and take a nap.
Anyway, we’re growing vegetables, too. It’s going well, though it’s awfully dry and we could really use some rain. But if it never rains again (sometimes that’s how it feels), and all the vegetables shrivel and die, I guess we could always put a kitten in each of the shares.