Thursday, November 10, 2016

'The old ways' with barn cats.

I walked by my neighbour's farm to get to the post box yesterday. I looked up the drive-way and there she was waving and calling me over. We had a chat about chickens and cats and her front yard wild flowers. I mentioned I had ten pumpkins to give her for her chickens. "Ooooooh, they'll love that.", she said. Six of her cats waited by the back steps for the lunch she was about to offer them. "I don't give them dry food, she said. Nothin' in it. I give them real food." She said she had just boiled some eggs for them and the dog and  mixed that with last night's chicken skin and gravy along with bread and a bit of milk. Boy, that brought back memories of my grandmother. The cats were ready and anxious for that meal.

Lucy's cats are cared for like most barn cats I come across. They are fed well, are expected to keep the mice down but are not fixed. :( That's why there are twelve running around and they all resemble each other in some way. Most are grey, some with stripes and some with full steel-coloured coats like Audrey. 

I boldly asked her if she had ever considered fixing her barn cats and her reply was upsetting but not anything I hadn't heard before. "Too many things can happen to them in the country. And the road is so close." No, no...much too expensive and for what?" She quickly jumped to another subject and left my concern for the cats to be my problem. 

She sent me home with a bag full of beautiful tomatoes, ready for eating, from her vegetable garden. She had a great crop just like we did. "Now, be sure you eat them and come back for tea next time", she said, waving as she headed to one of her barns.

I came home troubled as you can well expect. I know it's not my business and how the heck do you change the mind of an eighty year old woman, anyway. Still, I feel I should continue to talk about it; fit it into the conversation somehow. Maybe it will get her thinking and that is the first step, isn't it?

                                         "You are nosy."

"And where's my treats today?"

We are out of your freeze-dried chicken treats, love. You'll have a few less calories today.

                                           "I hate my life...


hugs, Deb


  1. If there was ever a time for a TNR fairy to fly down while you were talking to your neighbor! One who had 'get a cat neutered/spayed for free' coupon, and enough coupons for all of her barn cats. There are programs around here that will trap, neuter, and return barn cats, so the homeowner doesn't have to (although, they would love to show her how to do it herself!) This TNR fairy would tell her about the lives of intact animals, fighting for life and living with disease, with a much shorter lifespan. Maybe you can look up local TNR or cat rescue groups, and let them try to contact your neighbor...?

  2. I certainly understand your concern about the unneutered barn cats. I have paid for spaying/neutering for a few animals who did not belong to me. It was just better to me than the potential consequences. Great photos as usual.

  3. It is hard to change someone's mind about something they have done for so many years. I hope you can. So many cats without homes. Oh Audrey!! I think my Annie has a bit of a 'Princess' issue herself but she is a cutie so I'll let it slide! Hugs!

  4. Oh Audrey, if only you knew how very lucky you are, meow!

    Yes hard to change old ways of thinking. Perhaps the cost puts her off - is there any group which can help help with spaying costs? We have a thrift shop here which uses profits for that - I always take my things there now - gave up on Goodwill for many reasons best left unsaid. She must love the kitties to make them fresh cooked meals.

    Lucky you getting fresh picked tomatoes still - does she have a greenhouse?
    Hugs - Mary

  5. My vet would love your neighbors cat meals. Dr. Anne swears by cats having as normal a human diet as possible -- real chicken vs. canned, etc. And of course, most of us don't do it. (I don't, anyway). I've tried with samples for Lizzie and for the most part, she has none of it, apart from the shaved beef we sometimes get for sandwiches or shaved turkey. Or a cheezit, which I don't give her more than a corner of because of the salt. I should try eggs...

    I wish there was some fund sponsored by humane societies or similar for spaying/neuter scholarships, of a sort. For people who do believe it is too expensive or don't have it even if it was less to get a discount or just supplies or something... I hear what you're saying and I agree but unless you take that baby on yourself, I have a feeling nothing will change. And 12 cats is a lot of cash for anyone...

  6. Oh gosh yes Deb ... that does take some thinking about I agree. I think I would not be able to leave it alone either ... she will look up one day & the numbers will have multiplied!! In my little town, if you start to get overun with cats, the local Animal Care place will liase with the Vets to get you a special discount to have the cats fixed up. My friend used this discount & the price to get a female speyed went from $130 down to $40. I shall be interested to see how it goes with Lucy .... best of luck x x

  7. Audrey seems irritated to have been awakened for a photo session.

  8. This is definitely the prevailing mindset among those who have 'barn cats.' Our good neighbors neuter most of their male kittens, but we've noted that with three 'queens' when they moved here, a dozen more kittens happened over the spring and summer. They are all pretty cats and friendly. They trot down the drive to meet me when I walk to the mailbox at the end of the lane, and increasingly they follow me--past their barn and home to my front porch. I know too well that the likely outcome is more kittens, who will be too closely related for good health.
    I have named all of the cats and formed attachments to several of them. A distressing situation and not one that may change.

  9. This kind of attitude from the older women is why we here have way to many feral cats from people leaving them behind or letting them wonder outside and when it comes time for the people to move they cant find their cats and then take off with out them breaks my heart though that this happens . If she keeps them on their property barn cats or not and provides food and shelter by law They are considered domestic animals and it is law that one can only have a certain amount of cats and to have them licensed and have their yearly shots at least it is here in our Municipality . I hope you can get through to her for the cats sakes . Audrey you make me laugh . Thanks for sharing , Have a good day !

  10. The program I worked with would come to the farm, set up the traps, then return to spay or neuter. All free of charge, and even continue to repeat until all the cats are fixed
    Many people took advantage of the program. I do wish you luck in changing her mind, I'm a firm believer in spay and neutering pets.

  11. Oh my dear Deb. Mae Mobley was born as a Maine barn cat kitten. It was by chance the vet was driving along a country road and passed a sign that said "free kittens." She rescued the three little kittens, full of fleas, and adopted them to good homes. She offered to spay the Momma cat for no fee and the man refused. I have always feared Mae's dear Mother did not fare too well. That stresses me to this day. I know your thoughts on this visit. May God watch over the precious!

  12. Wow, I was shocked to read here that spaying can be as high as $130! Been awhile since we had that done. I would probably offer to pay her vet bill if it were my neighbor but that price x 12 makes it prohibitive for sure. And, since she is a great neighbor and a new friend, your idea of just continuing to suggest spaying and neutering seems like the best way to handle this. Situations like this are such a burden on those of us who love animals so much--just so darned hard to "walk away", isn't it! --Nebraska ><>

  13. Oh, so true! I've gotten 20+ fixed and you know, it isn't that expensive...she could at least do the girls! I hope you continue to have the opportunities to impress upon her the need. Would the neighbors be willing to donate? Two cats can multiply to 200 in just a couple of years. But I'm sure you already knew that. :) Our Humane Society offers services for strays and ferals at a very good price.

  14. It's so difficult to change an older person's way of thinking. Those who seem to love animals, also seem to see a cat's life as inevitably shorter but happier outside. I have a friend whose mother loves animals but who has always let her cats go outside. One of her cats was recently hit by a car after being let out for a brief, three years of life. This didn't stop my friend's mother from continuing to let her other cat go outside.In her 85 year old mind, cats are happier outside. Period. I think for an older, "farm" person,barn cats are viewed as not necessarily disposable but as part of an ever changing scenery ; here today, gone tomorrow. That's life. It will be interesting to see how she responds to you starting a conversation on the importance of spaying and neutering cats. She may not like it and see it as intrusive. Also, she simply may not have the kind of money it would take to fix that many cats. Good luck with it. We would feel torn too.It's difficult to teach an old dog new tricks...but not necessarily impossible!

    the critters in the cottage xo

  15. That is how you end up with 200 cats and no money to feed them. Our SPCA is running a $7 fee for fixing cats and for an extra dollar they will come and pick them up from your home + another dollar for a microchip!!! So nobody can really complain here bout the price.

  16. Hi Deb, good luck with that quest ! we too have a problem with unfixed cats but it is normal households that don't see it as necessary so we end up with lots of strays. The local welfare centres always fix them before rehoming so that's good. Have a nice weekend...Gail x

  17. I agree with Betsy on spaying the females at least. Any low cost spay/neuter facilities in your area?

    In this world of too many cats and too few owners, your neighbor can certainly find another cat if she loses one.

  18. I agree with you, of course. Farm people, however, see cats more as working livestock than as pets. I understand that point of view but, if she wanted a continuous supply of them, she can rescue cats from elsewhere and put them to work. They would still be better off with her, I suspect, than in many situations. That price in New Zealand that Poppy mentioned is a winner!

  19. Many shelters have free barn cats program where they will give farmers looking for mousers cats for free! They come neutered and with shots! There's no need to have poor cats becoming breeding machines. I'm sure it's her age that has her behind the current trends.
    Audrey has no reason to hate her life. I have friends who say that when they die, they want to come back as one of my cats. I take that as a high compliment!

  20. Well my Dear, I am just shy of being 80, and I fully believe in "fixing" cats. Dogs also.

    But then, I suppose I wasn't brought up, in the same environment, she was.

    And also, perhaps she has never given herself permission, to rethink her long-held views?

    Best of luck with jogging her, into different ways of thinking....!

    Luna Crone