It was the kind of email that I dread to receive. An injured barn cat had disappeared. He had been limping for about four days. The limp was getting worse, but he wouldn’t let himself be caught, and then for two days, he was gone.
Barn cats have a precarious existence. Big Kitty lives in an area thick with coyotes. I’m sure the gal who owns the barn, Linda, would love to have Big Kitty safe in her house. Unfortunately, Big Kitty doesn’t much care for people. It took Linda four years of feeding him before he touched her hand, and let himself be pet.
So, when Big Kitty disappeared, Linda was heartbroken.
Last night, I tuned into Big Kitty. He was alive. He was injured. He was in the woods by the barn. He told me that he was very close, but he’s concerned about going in the barn because he did not want to go to the vet. I asked him to please move back into the barn where it’s safe. I told him that nobody was going to take him to the vet.
I emailed Linda with the news. She wrote back:
I am just home from the farm and am overjoyed to report that I saw him twice tonight. First, in searching the barn from top to bottom, a friend and I startled him from a hiding place in something like an attic above the tack room. He ran down steps and down the main aisle and across the indoor arena to get away. He was moving at top speed. We didn’t pursue or continue our search because it was clear that although injured, he was alive, at home in the barn, close to food and water, and didn’t want us to approach.
My worst fear was that he had holed up somewhere and given up. You are absolutely right that his spirit is strong.
This morning, I tuned into Big Kitty and he and I had a long conversation about his body, how his injury happened (he caught his leg in a door), and the vet. Big Kitty said, I don’t want to go to the vet. The vet smells bad. I don’t want to smell like the vet.
When I told Linda about the conversation, she gasped and laughed and told me about how the last time Big Kitty was at the vet, they had put him in the box they use to anesthetize animals for surgery, and Big Kitty had urinated all over himself.
When they went to clean him up, they used a dry shampoo that smelled like jasmine. Linda said that Big Kitty was very upset by the smell of it. She could just tell that he was saying that this was not how a Barn Cat should smell like!
Big Kitty wanted his food in one spot and no other, so as not to attract “predators”. By predators, he meant (Linda told me) feral cats that want to come into the barn and eat his food.
Big Kitty promised to stay in the barn to recover and Linda promised to not take him to the vet but to stay with him and talk with him. This was hard on Linda, because he’s not putting pressure on that leg. Still, she wants her friend to stay in the barn where it is safe, and not in the woods where the coyotes can get him.
I’m going to talk with Big Kitty again tomorrow, to try to get an understanding of the severity of his injury, and to see if he’d be willing to have a vet visit him at the barn, if they promise not to bring that stinky stuff.