Bring on the Sun!

Aloha! I’ve been hanging out here in Meowi since my last post in November. I leave now and then for food and water and to use the facilities but, other than that, you’ll find me here, soaking up the fake sun.

Just hangin’ on the beach.

If you’ve ever been around cats, you know that we love warmth. We lie in sunny spots, curl up next to heaters and fireplaces, stretch out on human laps, and hang out just about anywhere else that provides heat. My heat comes in the form of an infrared bulb inside an old fireplace. It might not sound very fancy, but for a guy who used to live outdoors, it’s my own private tropical beach. And, bonus, it’s healthy! They actually use it as a treatment for cats with kidney disease, something we’re prone to.

Barn life is pretty fine.

It’s generally accepted that domestic cats descended from African wildcats. Africa = warm. Where it’s not warm is Canada in winter, especially out here on the prairies. Cats are not designed for Canadian winter, especially this cat. Overall, it’s been a pretty mild season, but mild in Alberta is still cold, especially at night.

Cold weather perk – the humans feel sorry for us and bring us canned food. So good.

Back in mid-February, it got very cold, to the point where I debated how long I could go without eating and drinking and the obvious consequences of eating and drinking. Sadly, not long. I was forced to climb the stairs to our food bowl in the loft, to the water bowl that plugs in not too far from Meowi, and the bathroom located at the back of the barn. Forty feet might not sound like a long way, but when your paws are travelling on cold concrete, it feels like forty miles!

Still not entirely comfortable with being held, but it does feel good to have my feet off the cold floor.

In the past few days, the afternoons have been warming up to spring-like, snow-melting temperatures, which makes this warmth-loving feline very happy. As much as I appreciate Meowi, it does get a bit old as winter goes on and I miss spending time outdoors and exploring inside and around the perimeter of the barn. On a nice day, I just love to sit in the open barn door and watch the goings-on in the yard. I’ll wander as far as a third of the distance to the house, but only when there are humans around. I have zero interest in becoming some coyote’s lunch.

Staying to the snow-free bits.

We’ve had another squatter in the barn this winter. T gave him Fran’s old renovated cooler and he spent his nights in there when it got cold. The humans don’t normally visit the barn after dark, but one night T came out to check on the horses because they’d been dewormed earlier that day, and when the barn door slid open, our poor wildie cousin, who was tucked into his cooler cabin for the night, nearly had a heart attack. He hit the cat door so hard it’s a wonder he didn’t cold-cock himself in the process! Silly guy. I’ve told him the humans are frightening-looking but harmless.

The cat cabin.

So, here’s hoping this weather continues and I’ll be out lying on warm, dry earth very soon.

Until next time, this is Hank, signing off from Meowi. Aloha!

They Call Me Hank

I’m Hank, one of the two barn cats who live at Almosta Ranch. I think Chico mentioned I might be writing a post at some point and, well, I’m finally getting around to it. I’m not lazy exactly, but I do enjoy my leisure time.

I’ve been here at the ranch since the spring of 2014, six and a half years now. I wasn’t the first cat on the place, number three actually, if you don’t count the wildies who show up from time to time.

Flash – a wildie who wandered in for a time and then wandered off again.

Fran and Tommy were adopted as a pair from the Happy Cat Sanctuary in Strathmore. For those of us less indoor-friendly cats, Happy Cat will rehome us on farms as long as we’ll be well fed and have a warm place to sleep in winter. Both Fran and Tommy were extremely shy, bordering on feral, so they were perfect candidates for the Barn Buddy program.

Since it’s a big barn, and there were a lot of mice, T decided to bring a third cat into the fold … me. I was never a feral, but my life experience had me feeling pretty leery of humans. I’d rather not get into the details. At the rescue they just called my “Grey”—you can probably see why from my photos—but T and Nollind thought I needed something more unique. They’d been watching the TV show Breaking Bad at the time and I reminded them of Hank, the short, burly DEA agent. So, Hank I became.

When I first arrived in my carrier, they turned me loose in the loft of the barn where Fran and Tommy were already locked up. It seemed a pretty good place to me—comfy places to sleep, lots of food, and plenty of hiding places if necessary. Fran didn’t agree and tried everything possible to get out of that loft, including climbing down inside the walls which only resulted in her having to be fished out, much to her terror.

Home sweet home.

I didn’t see much need to hide from the humans once I’d been around a week or so. They seemed harmless enough. And then I started to approach T when she’d sit still, letting her pet me, just once or twice before either running away or nipping at her when I got scared. Those first tentative forays into human touch quickly turned into my life’s passion.

Just can’t get enough lovin’.

Once we’d settled in and T was no longer worried about us running off into the prairie as soon as the door was opened, we were allowed to roam the entire barn and even had a small door to the outside. I’d landed in kitty paradise. Fran didn’t see it that way and chose to move outdoors into the hay shed, coming in only to eat.

Tommy and I became fast friends, always together. He was kind of like a little brother and I tried to show him the ropes of living with humans. By the end of the summer, I’d become completely comfortable with T and Nollind and all of the people who boarded their horses at Almosta Ranch, but Tommy remained much more shy. He did start to saunter over for a quick walk-by petting when T was giving me a rub down, but that was as close as he came to losing his fear.

Tommy and I sharing a snack.

Fran, well, she remained mostly feral and mostly outdoors, even through that first winter. Tommy and I had Meowi, this wonderful tropics-like place that gets turned on once the weather is cold, so T created a separate place for her. She wouldn’t use it, stayed outdoors, and froze the tips of her ears off in her defiance.

No more points on those ears.

Our second summer on the farm, Tommy disappeared. He’d been wandering farther from the barn, sometimes at night. I tried to tell him he was playing with fire. He didn’t listen, he wanted to explore, and one day, he didn’t come home.

I never venture much beyond the barn door.

I missed him a lot for a while, but then Fran moved in. I’d thought she was a difficult, scrappy little thing but, turns out, she just really didn’t like Tommy and vice versa. That was five years ago, and in those years we’ve become about as close as two cats can be. She’s been playful, cuddly, willing to share her food, and too feral to hog any of the human attention I love so much. What more could a guy ask for in a companion?

Cuddle time.

Well … that she’d stayed too feral to hog any of the human attention I love so much. It’s taken time, but she is really getting comfortable with people now and loves to be petted at least as much, maybe more, than I do. It bugged me like crazy at first, but now I’m happy to hang out in Meowi while she gets some loving. I know they’ll come around and give me some too.

I know it’s just an old fireplace, but to me … Meowi!

So that’s me, and Fran, in a nutshell. I’ll be here hanging out on the beach this winter as that warm (fake) sun shines down. I’ll check in again if I can tear myself away. Until then … Aloha!

Me and much-less-wild Fran.