Hey gang, it’s me, Hank the barn cat. (Since you haven’t heard from me in a while, I figured I should refresh your memories.) Before I tell you about Mariah, I just wanted to pay tribute to our canine friend who left us in July. Chico and I didn’t spend a ton of time together, but as dogs and cats go, we got along really well, especially considering he used to be a cat chaser. He never tried to chase me, seeming to know right from the start that I belonged at the farm. He let me rub on him, I let him smell my butt. We had it worked out. He wasn’t spending as much time at the barn anymore because of his sensitive digestive system, but I did have a chance to say goodbye before he left us, and I’m glad of that.
The last time I wrote, I was looking for a new companion after losing my friend Fran in June. Wow, it’s been over a year already. I missed her terribly last winter. It’s a long, cold season in Alberta, but much longer and colder when you’re a solo cat living in a barn. The mice kept me company, and a feral who lives on the property popped in now and then for a meal from my food bowl, and J or M the horse sitters were by on a daily basis. But there were a lot of hours to just lie in Meowi (cat Hawaii) by myself, remembering the good old days of cuddling up with Fran.
They tried to adopt a companion for me last fall, but as soon as her three-week locked-in-the-barn period was over, she left. I think my barn is a terrific place to live, but she didn’t seem to agree. Or perhaps it was it something I said? Anyway, by then it was too late to try bringing in another cat, so I was on my own.
But as soon as T got home this spring, she was on the look for just the right cat to fill Fran’s place. The cat in the fall had been completely feral and just didn’t want to be anywhere that involved humans. So this time T went looking for someone semi-friendly who was hopefully a good mouser and she found just the girl. Introducing … Mariah!
Semi-friendly is the perfect way to describe her. She’s not feral, not even that afraid. She just doesn’t have interest in people much beyond feeding. Me, I love a good rub or a brushing, but she’s more interested in prowling around the barn or property catching mice. She is a mouser extraordinaire. Fran was a good little hunter, but this girl, wow, she is lethal. I’m glad I’m bigger than she is.
I have to admit; I didn’t like her at first. Fran’s were tough paws to fill and after being rejected by Roo last fall, and having the big bully of a feral come and go over the winter, I was a little stand-offish. Okay, it was more like run at her than stand off, but you get my drift. I had a hard time accepting her. But, once I realized we weren’t going to be let out of the barn until I behaved like a gentleman, I decided to try to like her. And I kinda do.
What’s really cool is that Mariah has introduced me to a whole new world. I’ve lived here on the farm since the spring of 2014 and have never ventured beyond the halfway point of the paddock that sits in front of my barn. The world was just too big and scary to venture any farther. But as soon as T started opening the barn door in the mornings for us to spend some time outdoors, Mariah was off exploring the rest of the yard all day, only returning when T called us for late-day feed and shut in. She’d look so pleased when she came home, smelling of places I hadn’t been, things I’d never seen.
So, one day, I followed her across the barnyard, making it all the way to the gate into the paddock. The next day, I ventured as far as the tool shed, and then the driveway, up to the north horse shelter, and finally, after about a month of my explorations, the deck! I was pretty nervous, but when I saw T sitting there having her breakfast just a few feet away, I figured it was safe. I’ve been back twice since then and regularly follow T around when she’s doing horse chores.
I still spend most of my time at the barn. I’m most comfortable there. But exploring that big old world out there has broadened my horizons and slimmed down my physique. I’m feeling (and looking) pretty good. And Mariah and I are becoming good friends. She’s even rubbed on me a few times and let me eat from her bowl. We don’t cuddle like Fran and I used to, but maybe once the weather turns cold we’ll take that step in our relationship. For now, we’ll just explore the great outdoors together and have someone to share a meal with at the end of each day. Life is good.