As a general rule, I have never been particularly fond of “house cats”. “Barn cats” on the other hand not only provide a useful service in keeping various rodent populations in check, but can be quite entertaining… all while demanding very little investment of time or money on my part.
Through the years here a variety of stray/feral cats have found their way this place. Usually the would appear one at a time and be around for a few years, then either meet an unfortunate end or simply disappear.
One such encounter began in the late-winter/early-spring of 2012. At the time I was working a construction job that was a two hour drive away from the house. Since I needed to be on-site between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m., I was leaving the house well before the sun came up (and certainly before my wife was awake). This particular day was after a recent heavy snow fall, it may have been a Monday although I am not certain.
Regardless, I had already fed the dogs and put food down at the top of the basement stairs for Lady, the house-cat we had at the time. By feeding her there and closing the basement door it kept the dogs from intimidating her out of her food. They were Border Collies and could be quite intimidating if they thought the situation required it. The presence of food within easy access was one of those situations.
Next on my morning check list was filling my large travel mug with coffee for the long drive ahead. I decided to start the car and let it be warming up while I was waiting for the coffee to finish brewing. Before the defroster could clear the windshield I noticed a critter in the shadows near the crawl-space entrance of the house. Thinking it might be a raccoon searching for food under the snow, I got out of the car to chase it off. That was when I heard a very defiant meow and saw that the critter was if fact a large long-haired cat. I was on a tight departure schedule and we already had a cat, I didn’t have time to deal with this.
I went back into the house, filled my coffee mug, and set up the coffee maker so all my wife would have to do was push the button when she woke up and came downstairs. I said goodbye to the dogs, promising them I would be back, and telling them to keep an eye on things and take care of my wife while I was gone. Once I was on the front porch I heard the meow from the cat again, only this time it was somewhat muted. As I walked in front of the car I could see from the headlights the cat had cleared enough snow to get to the small opening of the crawl-space. Well at least it won’t freeze to death, I remember thinking. Still, something made me go back into the house and grab a can of cat food, open it, and place it by the crawl-space entrance before finally heading off to work.
Most of the drive there I spent reassuring myself that I did all I could do at the time, and that it would be an interesting story to tell my wife when I got home that evening.
To be continued…