A furry friend shows up at the farm

Published 10:00 am Friday, January 20, 2023

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I’ve jinxed us.


I just had to bring up to Paul, not two weeks ago, that it’s been strange that we’ve not had any stray cats show up at the farm—particularly after a bad storm, in a couple of years. Lost or abandoned cats often flee, like dogs, during relentless, loud thunder and frightening lightning strikes. And then, after an especially loud storm last week, I saw something small and golden flit across our front field, in front of the horses. Nearing the fence, it appeared to either fall over or flop down.

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“Is that a young fox?” I pointed out to Paul as we were standing in the barn looking out.


“I think it’s a cat,” he commented, and moved forward slowly to take a better look. Spying him, the cat got up and trotted away. We both could see he looked like a toast rack—skin and bones and very small.


Our farm, like most farms, tends to be part of the Underground Railroad for cats. And certainly, this cat had followed the north star in a skyful of stars on recent, bitterly cold nights. I ran into the house to grab a can of cat food and walked far to the side of this feline, up the driveway, then cut across the field in an attempt to get in front of him and place the can in front of him, in the dormant grass. From fifty feet away he crouched down, then turned around and fled into the woods.


“He’s so thin,” I said to Paul, upon returning to the barn. “And he doesn’t look well at all.”


The following morning, I walked into the ‘shack,’ which once served as my studio and is now Paul’s workshop. (Strange to see the place full of table saws, clamps and what-nots, but, as we know, all middle-aged men at some point will have a workshop. It’s the law.) I was going to get the battery for the leaf blower I’d plugged in to recharge. As I mounted the steps I saw, from underneath the shack, an orange, striped tail. It didn’t move when I walked in or walked out. It didn’t move when I tentatively called, “Kitty? Kitty?”


“The cat’s under the shack,” I texted to Paul who was in the house. “And I’m afraid he might be frozen to death.”


Paul came out with cat food and within minutes, the cat showed himself to still be alive—just—and began eating.


Fast forward: we got him immediately to the vet, where he tested negative (whew!) for Feline leukemia, but did have a treatable virus. He’s about 2 years old and barely weighed in at 5 pounds. There is no chip, he’s intact (of course he is), has clearly been handled before as he’s incredibly affectionate. Paul brought him home with antibiotics, probiotics, extra food and a vet bill of over $400, which, of course, is only the deposit for any ‘free’ animal.


He is also a talker. The chattiest cat I’ve ever known. He is currently residing in the shack, until his virus clears up, luxuriating on a pillow next to the heater, and never stops talking.


“What are we going to name him?” asked Paul


“He’s a redhead, like Prince Harry,” I said. “A Ginger. But unlike Harry, he’s not a whinger.”


“What’s a ‘whinger?’


“Same thing as a whiner. Only they call it whinging. It’s why they’ve nicknamed Harry ’the Ginger Whinger.’”


“We can’t call him that,” said Paul.


“No,” I agreed. “He’s far more dignified.”


There was only one other name, then, to choose.


Welcome, William!