Losing my Shadow.

Yesterday was a sad day.

In some ways, I’m more of a country girl than ever before. It’s as though I’ve passed through some terrible rite of passage. But in other ways, I’m still just a tender-hearted city gal mourning the loss of my cat.

Early yesterday morning, feisty, loving, and fiercely loyal Shadow the cat was hit and killed by a car. This might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but it was a big deal to me. He was the first pet I’ve ever had. Unlike most rural folks, I didn’t lose two dogs this way during my childhood. I’ve never raised a piglet to adulthood and dropped it off at the slaughterhouse. I’ve never started up my car in the winter while a barn cat was sleeping in the engine. I’ve never had a pet, so I’ve never had a pet die. Heck, I cried when I ran over a bunny a few months ago. In a lot of ways, I’m still a sissy. And I’m ok with that.

Most people have this experience when they’re five; I’m having it at twenty-five. I feel like that intensifies the sadness. It’s been building up for a quarter of a century. But then I also feel like I’m too old to feel this way. Not sure I care.

I will miss seeing that ball of black fur racing towards me when I pull into the driveway. I will miss his presence during our dinners on the deck. I will miss watching him chase Jersey the dog around the yard. I will miss his stalkerish leering through the kitchen window.

A friend reminded me that Shadow was always a voyeur. He came and went as he pleased, stopping by our house long enough to eat some breakfast and take a nap on the deck. He freely roamed the farm and despite the dairy man’s many attempts, never enjoyed being held. But he was still a member of our hodgepodge country family (yes, I do include the cows) and he will be missed. Even my brother loved him.  You can see the family resemblance.

I promise I’m not a crazy cat lady. I don’t like cats. I just liked MY cat. Shadow weaseled his way into my heart (see this post) when I was feeling alone in a new home and a new town. For that, I thank him.

For now, I will coerce the Dairy Man to give Shadow a proper funeral/burial (no matter how silly he thinks it is) and imagine my cat with wings and a halo, terrorizing all the puppies in pet heaven.

Here’s to you, Cat.

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Multiplication.

A look outside my kitchen window this morning revealed this sight:

If you have been following my blog, you know that I have one cat. Only one. His name is Shadow and he’s my friend.

These two sheepish looking creatures are not my friends. But apparently Cat/Shadow has been socializing around the neighborhood and decided to bring some buddies over for breakfast.

Darn him.

On the upside, these two new cats are skittish and seem to have no desire to dart past my legs into the house every time I walk out the door. I wish I could say the same for a black feline who shall remain nameless. Once, he made it all the way to our living room before I was able to catch him!

So. Apparently math on the dairy works in an exponential fashion. One friendly cat + a bowl of food = three cats. I just hope the three musketeers are content with their clique (and feel no romantic inclination towards each other); otherwise I may find myself spending a fortune on cat food…

My Shadow.

I would be remiss to discuss my life on the farm without mentioning the cat.

Though the Dairy Man long ago dubbed this black ball of fur “Shadow” because he followed me around like a bedraggled puppy, I am just as likely to call him by his original name: “Cat.”

Cat came into our lives when we moved into our first house after getting married. The previous owners mentioned that there was a black cat that occasionally lived in the barn. For the first several weeks, we didn’t see a hair of him. But the Dairy Man saw signs of life near the barn, so he started leaving food out to see if he could coax the feline out of hiding.

To make a long story short, the cat showed up. He started eating our food. And, much to my chagrin, the Dairy Man kept moving his bowl closer and closer to our house. It’s not that I don’t like cats, but once this cat was our friend, he was our friend. He was waiting outside the door to terrify/trip me at 6:30 a.m. when I left for work. He came bounding from the trees whenever my car pulled into the driveway and would follow/trip me up the steps to the house and try to sneak in the door behind me. If I didn’t get out of my car quickly enough, he would sit directly outside the door and meow incessantly. Once he even climbed on to the hood of my car and put his paws on the windshield as if to say, “GET OUT AND FEED ME.” He was constantly annoying me, tripping me, terrifying me, meowing at me, or staring at me. People would tell me, “It’s not a big deal, he’s just being friendly.” But I knew he was evil. Those beady eyes followed my every move. I was a prisoner in my own house. Dairy Man affectionately called him Shadow. I indignantly called him “Dangitcat!”

Then, for no reason other than to distract him from my legs, I started feeding him. I discovered that if there was food in his bowl, he would leave me alone and I could walk to the house in peace. This discovery brought a level of begrudging tolerance to our relationship. I even started making him earn his supper—no food would be poured until he rubbed against my legs to acknowledge his subordinate role and gratitude.

Thus was my fatal mistake. Cat started to like me. I started to like Cat. I vehemently denied this fact to family and friends, but Cat had started to weasel his way into my heart.

A few months after I married the Dairy Man, we moved to a new (our current) house ON the dairy farm. We faced a dilemma: to take the cat or not to take the cat? On one hand, he was 100 percent an outside cat. People saw him all over the neighborhood. This was his turf, his home. We fed him, but he was perfectly able to fend for himself. Would he be happy on the new farm?

We feared he would try to run away from the new house, exposing his furry self to cars, cougars, and getting lost, so we left him. But out of guilt, I kept going back to the old house to feed him. I couldn’t leave him alone. So, one dark night, the Dairy Man catnapped our feline and brought him clawing and squawking to the dairy.

Since then, Cat has adjusted well. He appears to be the leader of a small group of wayward barn kitties and is seen all over the farm, as evidenced below:

Cat by the sliding door (watching us eat dinner):

Cat looking in the kitchen window:

Cat in the barn:

Cat has been here (poor car):

All of his creepiness aside, I’m glad that Shadow and I have worked out our differences. I might even like him just a little bit. But shhh, don’t tell.