Meet the barn cats

One of the questions we’re asked fairly often when people hear we have a farm is, “Do you have animals?” I’ve mentioned before that we inherited a lot of things from the previous owners. Included in those things is our barn cats.

Our two barn cats

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ralph (striking a pose in the foreground) and Bert.

The first time we visited the farm we caught glimpses of a cat. We weren’t sure whether it was passing through or whether it belonged to the property. At that point, the house had already been abandoned for a few months, so if the cat did belong to the property, it was on its own.

On a whim Matt named the cat Ralph.

Ralph the cat

Ralph sitting pretty

In the time between when we put in our offer and the deal closed, we saw Ralph every time we came back to the property. We hoped that he’d make it through the winter on his own and he’d still be there when we moved in.

When we took possession of the farm, Ralph was still there. Soon we noticed that he had company. Matt dubbed cat #2 Bert.

Bert, our other barn cat

Bert sitting pretty

(An aside for those who remember the classic Canadian kids’ cartoon The Raccoons. In this show, the main characters were Bert, Ralph and Melissa. This wasn’t in our minds when Matt named the cats, but as soon as we realized we started keeping our eyes out for Melissa).

Both cats were a little skittish, so we went to work on winning them over. This mostly involved a big sack of Agri-Cat kibble purchased at the local feed mill and Whiskas Temptations that we dole out daily.

Ralph quickly came around and soon was camping out by the front door. We learned he was very vocal, he liked to be scratched on the very top of his head right up near his eyebrows… and he was also… female.

Ralph, one of our barn cats

Yes, it’s true, I’m a girl, and they named me Ralph.

This will likely sound familiar to those who know my family. We have a habit of choosing the wrong gender when naming our pets. There was Alice the gander and Clarence the goose and Harry the duck who hatched 18 ducklings. Matt and I are just keeping up the tradition.

Bert was a little more of a hard sell than Ralph. He (and we’re sure he is a he) is quite timid. After a month of wooing him with Whiskas, he finally worked up the confidence to take a piece directly from Matt’s hand. He shows up at feeding time most nights and as long as his head is buried in a bowl of Agri-Cat, he’ll let Matt pet him a little bit. He’s a very, very pretty cat with a very high pitched voice.

Barn cat Bert

Bert tippy-toes along a log

I am not a cat person, but I admit that I’ve come to enjoy arriving home and seeing the cats in the flowerbed by the front door waiting for their humans. Once I’ve parked the car, Ralph comes trotting over to me to get her welcome home scratch.

They live outside and sleep in the barn if they want shelter. Aside from a couple of paws over the threshold from Ralph when we nip inside to grab some treats, they don’t come in the house.

Straw nest

Each cat has made its own “nest” in the piles of straw in the barn.

And they’re earning their keep. We often see Bert stalking the fields for prey. The first time Matt and I sat down to dinner in the dining room, Ralph joined in. She walked up the driveway carrying a mouse, which she then proceeded to eat in its entirety right in front of the dining room window. Perhaps not the most appetizing dinner experience I’ve ever had.

She’s going to have to keep it up too. Over the past two months, Ralph got very round around the middle. Lest you think we’re too generous with the Whiskas, I should tell you that last week she suddenly became her usual svelte self, and on Friday we finally found her brood of barn kittens.

They’re tucked away high up on the loft in the driveshed, so we don’t know yet how many there are, but it appears that we just went from two cats to more. And it looks like there’s a visit to the vet in our future. It was in the plans. We just weren’t quite quick enough.

Any other reluctant cat people out there? Or cat crazy people? Anyone else remember watching The Raccoons? What was your favourite kids’ cartoon growing up? And the most important question of all, anyone want to adopt a kitten? They’ll be free to a good home in about eight weeks.

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