Of Mice and Farm Cats

Lucy was a city cat, raised in an apartment. Just your typical little black shorthair of unknown parentage who ended up at a rescue and taken in as a pet by our friend Ambika. Lucy spent her days as an only cat, doing what most apartment cats do- lounging in the sun in front of a window, sleeping on any smooth, flat surface she could find, and chewing up the cords to the computer mouse. She was brought her food every day, and was implored by her owner not to use her claws on the furniture. Unfortunately for both pet and owner, Ambika soon had to move to a different city, and to a place where she could not keep Lucy as a pet anymore.
Christy had met Lucy as a tiny kitten and she let Ambika know that if she could not find a placement for Lucy, that we could try to take Lucy to the farm and see what would happen. No one was sure at the time of how Lucy would react to going from being a house cat to being exposed to all of the animals and livestock on the farm. Lucy was about 10 months old at the time, was small, slight and had only ever been indoors. To be honest, between the coyotes, the owl and the hawks I was not even sure how long a little cat would last up here.
Lucy adjusted to Christy’s house right away, and developed a love/hate relationship with Christy’s dachshund Mandy. Mandy loves cats, but Lucy, true to her feline nature, loves to, at times, terrorize K-9s. As much as they get along even now, Lucy will always take any opportunity she can to pounce on Mandy, or bip her in the head for no reason. Mandy seems to be a very good sport about the whole thing though, and does not retaliate other than barking. Lucy is not really one who wants to be petted or sit in someone’s lap. You can tickle her under her chin, but only for just so long, and then without warning you will receive a smart bite to the hand and she will dance away out of reach
I will stop here and say, that yes, there are cat people and there are dog people. I have had dogs my whole life; I have had up to 7 dogs at one time, and in fact bred and showed them at one point. I have only ever had 2 cats in my entire life;. one that found me and one that the kids dragged home. I was, for the most part, indifferent to both. I don’t like the scratching thing,  I don’t like the hair that gets everywhere, and I am not a fan of litter boxes or their contents. Hairballs or the sounds that have to be made to produce them, are something I don’t even want to have to think about.
So as a devoted “notacatperson” I admittedly found much humor in it when I would sometimes walk by Christy’s house and hear a scream, followed a few seconds later by the door opening and a still wiggling lizard’s tail or legless grasshopper or potato bug go flying out past the screen as Lucy began to find her “inner hunter.” The more Lucy started to grow and put on weight and size, the more she also started to expand her dominion bit by bit, and began to venture from Christy’s yard and garden across the driveway and into the feed shed. Here was her training ground, and she started to spend many long hours learning to hunt among the feed sacks and barrels. I actually was very proud (after a few seconds of being grossed out) of her the first time I was coming to the shed one morning, and she had lined up her morning’s catch for me to see right there in the doorway; three little headless mice. I hailed her a mighty hunter and was glad she had found a job and a new purpose in life here.
It was months later that I witnessed one of the strangest things I have ever seen a cat do. I was out working in the raised beds one day and Lucy walked past me carrying  a fairly good sized mouse in her mouth. It was not dead, she had just stunned it like cats will do sometimes. The next thing I knew she had taken the mouse to the goat yard fence and dropped the stunned mouse down. She waited for Nikki, our livestock guard dog, to come over to where she was, and then proceeded to bat the mouse through the fence to her. She then sat there with what seemed like great delight, and watched the dog kill and consume the mouse. I was fascinated by this bizarre behavior and my mind reeled with stories. Could it be like the story of the lion and the mouse and that the dog had once caught the cat and the cat had had to make a pact to bring her food, or maybe the cat felt a deep need to bring sacrifices to the great Anatolian keeper of the goat yard for some reason unknown to us? Anyway, it is one of the strangest things I have ever witnessed animals doing.
These days, Lucy is doing a very good job of keeping the rodent population down in the feed shed and she has expanded to the garage and raised boxes as well. She is now a full fledged “big game” hunter, adding birds, small rats, and gophers to her list of kills. As time has passed by, I can now say that I am even somewhat fond of Lucy. Now that we have adjusted to having to say words of praise over the line-up of body parts and entrails in the driveway, or the CSI “presents” she leaves for me to find (where she knows I will see them) on the shelves in the feed shed, and the occational “live dinner show” she will bring into Christy’s house (I think Lucy still likes to hear her scream from time to time) I feel that Lucy has found her place here on the farm and she does her job well as farm cat.  She now does what her feline instincts tell her to do and we have to adjust ourselves and be accepting of her “catness”, even when it sometimes takes us by surprise (or grosses us out.)

All Hail Lucy O mighty hunter!

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Liz on February 24, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Love your posts, makes me feel like I am there among you all. All Hail Lucy, Nicki and well, All Hail Blue Hill Farms!


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