Tag Archives: cats

Death of the Barn Cat(s)

Note to Animal Activists and Cat Lovers:  I do not like cats…but I do not hate them.  Also, any death that occurred below was by no means malicious or fruitless.  Mama Cat was taken down by a gun because she attacked everyone who stepped out the front door, and we had 300 kittens running around because she was a whore.

I’ve never really had a real pet.  Therefore, I’ve never really put any thought into naming a living creature.

I had a goldfish called Suzy that I named after my friend’s “cool” older sister.

And I guess I had a few barn cats at my grandparents’ house in Clyde that I got to name:  Strudel (death by combine),  Muffin (cross-eyed, death by car), Bart a.k.a. Barf (death by eating disorder), Salt & Pepper (frozen solid…then thawed and back to life…but not before we threw the box that contained their bodies into a burning barrel), and a few others…  I always chose the runt of the litter–the one that was bound to have issues.  There was Nickel, Kipper, Bear, countless Tigers, Juniors, and Smokes.  A few named Morris after the 9 Lives cat, and one named Pumpkin.  Mama Cat was killed by gun, and her kittens taken to wide open fields.

When we found the bones of a decayed cat in the barn underneath the woodpile, we called her Princess (after Princess Diana who had recently died) and carved her name into a brick.  She still rests under the first pine tree on Grandma and Grandpa’s farm.

But Suzy was eaten by my brother’s fish, Buddy.  And you learn to never get attached to barn cats–there are too many ways for them to go.   So I never really put much stock into what I called these critters.

It seems like a huge responsibility to name something, and I haven’t had much practice.  I people naming their dogs…dogs that are parts of their families.  And now my friends are naming their children.  Whoa, right?  Children.  Children that you have to call by the same name for upwards of 50 years.  Children who will be known by that name for the rest of their lives, on paper, in memories.

I’m not equipped to name anything yet.  It’s just not so…  But I do have theories on naming things…so tomorrow, I will write a segment entitled “How to Name Your Nugget”, and I will talk about it like I have authority on this matter.



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Every once in awhile, you come across the perfect tree.  And if you’re really lucky, it’s on property that you know you’re allowed to be on.  Mine was a big old Maple on the east side of my grandparents’ house, the side that faced Gene’s Drive-Thru Carry-Out.  The tree had a bough that was low enough for my cousins and me to wrap our arms around, pull ourselves horizontal to the earth while we pushed our feet against the trunk, and lob a leg over mid-swing.

Each weekend at my grandparents’ was a race to get into the tree.  Whoever got there first claimed it, and being the tallest and last of the Big Kids (the first four grandchildren of the 10), I had an advantage.  My cousin Meghan and I spent the most time in the tree, seeing who could go higher, and who was brave enough to step on the branch that didn’t seem strong enough to hold us.  We were the ones who stole all of Grandma’s spoons out of her silverware drawer, and strung them all in the branches with yarn so that we could have an entire tree of wind chimes.  When Grandma went to set the table for dinner, her fingers grasped at the empty space in the drawer, and all she could hear was a jingling from outside her window.

After looking down through the trees and seeing her laughing, Meghan and I cut down the spoons and went in for dinner.

Seeing as my grandparents lived on a farm, there was no shortage of stray cats, each of whom were adopted as soon as we dug the litter from underneath the wood pile.   My brother always took the tiger-striped cats.  Meghan always took the charcoal gray ones.  I, on the other hand, always took the runts.  I don’t know if I felt sorry for them, or if it was some sort of mothering instinct kicking in, but I always picked the runt.

This left me with some obstacles:  Muffin was a light gray runt who was cross-eyed, and every time she heard a noise or lightning struck, she’d run head-on into a wall.  And then there was Bart, who would follow me anywhere I went.  But as he got older, he developed a bad habit of ingesting his food twice, sometimes three times, and we began calling him Barf.

Because Meghan and I were in the tree so much, we were missing out on valuable cat time on the ground.  And while cats can climb trees, they don’t always want to go up there when YOU want them to.  So we solved the problem with:  THE KITTY-VATOR.

It was just a plastic milk crate with old sheets lying in the bottom, but to us, it was the best invention ever.  With a frayed rope tied from handle to handle and up over a tree branch to create a not-so-intricate pulley system, the Kitty-Vator got us what we wanted off the ground.  Generally, I climbed into the tree with the rope looped around my belt loops, and Meghan stood on the ground, rallying the cats around her and fitting as many as she could into the milk crate.  We’d then tape a piece of cardboard over the crate (so they couldn’t escape) and I hoisted them into the tree.  Meghan then scampered up to help me unload the loot, and we spent the day lounging on long branches, barefoot, and holding cats in our arms.  If we thought the tree was perfect, well why would the cats think otherwise?

Eventually we nailed platforms between forked branches and kept a bag of cat food up there, too.  And the cats learned to like it.  I can’t imagine, though, what the customers at my grandpa’s store thought when they saw two little blonde girls jamming cats into a milk crate and disappearing into the leaves of a Maple tree.


Posted by on April 25, 2011 in When I Was Young


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