Our small farm was once part of a much larger property with acres of farmland. Included in that original property were woods. Our land is still pretty wooded and has a creek, but now the denser woods are across the road from ours. Two of our neighbor’s homes are in and surrounded by woods, a creek and ravines.
Because of that natural setting we see a lot of wild animals: Deer, fox, coyote, opossum, raccoon, rabbits, snakes and hawks to name a few.
A couple years ago on a trip to see Maple Syrup making demonstrations, we ended up adopting 2 barn cats from Malabar Farm, the historical farm of Pulitzer prize winning author Louis Bromfield. Seems many cats are dumped in front of the park and end up living in their main barn. The park workers are constantly looking for homes for the many (and I mean many) barn cats living on the property.
One of the two cats we adopted, (unbeknownst to us), was pregnant. We named our new cats Malabar and Bromfield, but in a very short time Bromfield ran off before we could have him fixed and Malabar gave birth to kittens.
But oh how completely cute those kittens were!
|New baby kitten|
Of the litter we ended up with two kittens that grew into adults. A third nearly mature kitten just one day turned up missing, so he either ran away or we believed, coyotes got him. It is something we must accept living on a farm in the country. If we forget even once, (as did happen) to completely fasten a barn door, something will get in and slather our chickens and other fowl. So we assumed that must have been the fate of the missing cat.
|Kittens growing by leaps and bounds|
One of the two kittens was a striped tabby and this is really where the story begins.
Each day I went to the barn to feed the goats and fowl, the striped tabby would purr and follow me everywhere one day, then run and hide the next. One day he would be at the kitchen door crying for treats and to be let in on chilly mornings, the next he wouldn't come anywhere near the house.
One minute he was rolling over to get his belly rubbed or wanting me to pick him up, then the next he darted away from me in fear, occasionally hissing at me. I believed I had a psycho cat on my hands!
The "Sybil the Cat" is a reference to a woman in history named Sybil, who had multiple very distinct personalities. My cats behavior was just the weirdest thing and I never knew from one day to the next if he was going to be friendly and purring or scared and hissing.
|One of our nearly grown kittens watching the chickens|
Two years pass with no change in our cat’s behavior. It’s just something I accepted and gave no more thought too. I didn't even mention the cat’s split personality behavior to my husband.
Although we live away from the city we still have traffic on our road. Our road is traveled by young drivers who drive way too fast, farm equipment, grain trucks, pick-ups trucks and people going to and from work or into town for dinner and shopping.
|Spoiled barn kitty begging to be scratched|
Many times during the year, when I walk down our lane to the mailbox, I find an animal along the curb that has been struck by a car or truck.
One day I received a call from my son who had just left to run errands. He told me he was so sorry but he thinks one of my barn cats must have gotten hit by a car during the night and that the cat was lying in the grassy area near the road. My son collected my dead cat and brought him back to the farm for me to bury.
The next morning I am back in the barn doing morning chores and turning around to grab more grain for the chickens, when I am started to see the ghost of my cat! It gave me pause, I can tell you. After composing myself I called my kitty to me, which I thought to be dead, hit by a car in the night. He rubbed against me purring and begged for his food dish to be filled.
Then it hit me, I have been dealing with TWO completely different cats that look 100% alike, for two years!
|Another barn cat not in the barn|
It all came together and explained the crazy split personality behavior of the cat.
It seems one of the kittens decided to leave the comfort
of the barn and roam free. So not getting much human affection, but still coming back for food, he had turned back to a cat's natural wild feral state. He was the one who ran from me and would not let me pet or hold him. His twin was tame and I held each time I went to the barn.
Life here on the farm is never a dull moment and always an adventure it seems.
And never has it become more clear to me that life and death go hand in hand, All new baby goats, chicks, goslings, puppies and even kittens grow up and eventually die. And sometimes accidents, machinery, sickness or wild animals take them first,
But it's also clear that each and every animal I've had, has been a blessing to me.
The kitten that chose his own path, to live wild and free also had a good life, just like the pampered barn cats. His belly was always full and that must have been him who loved to sun himself on the fence behind the barn. He is now resting alongside one of my favorite hens under the apple trees.