Barn Cat!

by Noey Vineyard

With the slow, easy glide of a gunfighter he pads across the barnyard. His confidence is palatable and provides a protective shield around him so thick that one can almost see it. His eyes do not dart nervously, and his step does not falter. It seems for an instant that time stops, and all the eyes the animals that live there stop what they’re doing and watch as he returns to the barn that he has claimed.  Even the 12 dogs in our dog pack know better than to impede his progress, and more than one muzzle in the pack bears the scars of foolish attempts in times past.

He is a barn cat, and he does not suffer fools. His coat is black and scruffy, his ears notched from many battles. His wits are keen, his claws sharp and quick. His growl is a war cry and can send shivers down the back of even a seasoned veteran. He does not sit in your lap and purr and will not play with your toys. Every day is survival day for a barn cat, and his skills and tools are more than enough for the task. Just ask the dogs and watch as they give barn cats a wide birth.

He marks his barn with the remains of his kills. A pile of feathers and bones, frog legs and mice tails are common sites at his barn. He requires only a handful of cat food a week to subsist his skills, and in return he keeps the barn safe from ALL things. He fears nothing and views the whole barnyard as his domain. He will not come when called as he answers to no one for his actions, and though he will endure a humans touch without repercussion, his contact with humans is slight.

We didn’t find him and we didn’t train him. He just one day simply appeared in our barn, and we considered ourselves lucky that a true barn cat had taken up residence with us. He acts as the exterminator, protector and chief advisor of all things that go on in his barn. I consider myself lucky on the days that he shows itself to me, and even blessed when he gets close enough for me to stroke his sides.

Beneath my fingers I can feel the muscles in barn cat, and with each stroke of my hand I can feel the many scars. He does not like to be held, preferring to stand on equal ground, and to touch his belly like you would a common house cat is a sure invitation to a bloody hand. To watch a barn cat move in action is to see poetry in motion, as he seems to make everything he does seem effortless. What barn cat does not have is a sense of humor, nor does he ask or give quarter. The goats and pigs that are his wards in the barn sleep deep at night because of those attributes.

You can’t buy a barn cat anywhere, and you can’t train them. A true barn simply just is. So if you have a barn, consider yourself lucky if a barn cat takes up residence there. He will keep your barn free of rodents and snakes, and will even teach your dogs respect for no extra charge. But he will not accept your invitation to come inside, and he will not curl up in your lap to be petted. He considers himself an equal, making his own way and fending for himself. No barn is complete without one. See you next month.