So… I know a lot of my blog posts are “How To” and “This works for us” kinds of things and I love to write all of those posts. However, there are just those times when I want to let you all in on some of the “personality” of our little hobby farm.
As I sat on the mulch pile today, taking a little coffee break from gardening, watching the dogs play and being completely molested (otherwise known as forceful petting) by one of our cats (Mountain Man) I realized that I’d love to tell you all about our cats of The Shepherd Hobby Farm.
We have 11 cats… no I am not a crazy cat lady… well I kinda am because I really like them… but I’m not a hoarder kind of crazy cat lady…
First and foremost, these cats play a very important role on the farm… vermin/varmint catcher and killer! They catch and kill everything from snakes to mice and our farm would be overrun with vermin (just think of all the grain and feeds we store for the various animals… a mouse’s dream!) without these cats. After the fact they are great companions, comic relief, and a way to add a few more gray hairs to this head of mine. Flash got a fish lure caught in her mouth, Socks has had two hematomas in his ears, and countless other kitty cat mishaps keep us on very good terms with our vet!
It all started out with Mommy Cat (I know, our most unoriginal name EVER… I blame my boys… they got better with naming as you will see). We moved onto our little homestead in 2009 with one dog, Katja. We noticed a skinny stray cat hanging around our garage and started feeding her (she was the sweetest cat ever!). About two weeks later I noticed a faint meowing coming from the rafters/storage area of the garage and found Mommy Cat (she had gone unnamed until this moment because none of the family could agree on a name) with a litter of 5 kittens. We moved her and kittens to a safer place and started keeping track of their weights and personalities daily. It was a great lesson for the boys to learn how to weigh kittens and make sure they were steadily gaining weight as well as look for any medical issues (eye discharge etc.). With Mommy Cat’s help we raised up her five kittens and advertised to find good homes for them when they were weaned (what crazy person has 6 cats?… they needed to be rehomed.)
Did you know everyone is trying to rehome kittens in the spring and summer? UGH! We sent one little female, named Muffins, home with my cousin to Wisconsin (you visit us you go home with an animal… it’s kinda standard.) Another female, Scout, went to a local family with two young sons. The rest, well, no more relatives were visiting and we couldn’t find good homes for them so we decided to have them spayed and neutered and we kept them… that’s how it all got started…
Even though these are outside mousers we take their health and safety very seriously. We live far off from the road which is why we let them be outside and they all are spayed and neutered. They all are current on immunizations at all times as well as are constantly on flea and tick prevention (yes the vet loves to see me walk in the door 🙂 ) They are provided with a warm place to sleep in cold weather and always have shelter. They are fed cat food but rarely eat it because they usually fill up on varmints. We use no pesticide that would endanger them if/when they do eat their “catch of the day” (think about local cats if you use poison on mice in or around your home). Mice ingest poison and die, cat finds and eats mouse, cat dies or gets really sick… not good!
I’d like to introduce you to our Mouse Patrol…
Mommy Cat (female)
Age: unsure but the vet estimated she was around 2 years old when she had her kittens so that would make her 7 now.
Mother to Scout, Flash, Simba, BG (passed away in 2012) and Muffins (went home with my cousin to Wisconsin).
She is a very sweet cat but won’t be the first to greet you. She likes to do her own thing and loves to be pet on her terms at her time of choosing. She will give little paw swats at you when she has had enough.
Age: 5 years old and daughter of Mommy Cat. Scout was the first off the blanket when exploring as a new kitten and never liked to stay on the scale to be weighed… too much to see, do and “scout” out. That is how she got her name. She went home with a local family but they called after having her for 4 months and said she started hiding under furniture and wouldn’t be social. We are thinking she may have been “loved too much” by the two young boys in the home so we asked the family to bring her back to us.
Scout never really came back around to being a social friendly cat but she will try to fool you. She is our most vocal cat and will meow and meow just beckoning for you to come and pet/hold her. However, the second you get close she will bolt… Haha SUCKER! Then she will stand a distance and do it all over again… she’s a tease. Once you catch her and hold her she settles down but catching her is a challenge and I’m usually the only one who can do it (we have to do it every couple days just to give her a check once over and make sure she’s healthy).
Son of Mommy cat and brother to Flash and Scout.
Age: 5 years old
Even though he’s neutered he looks like a big tomcat. This boy was an “indoor cat” but decided he liked the great outdoors much better as he would constantly try to get out and decided everything in our house was his personal scratching post (even though he had tons of toys and cat scratching posts!). Because he spent so much time indoors he developed a great bond with our dog Katja and can often be seen rubbing all over her in great loving admiration (or he’s just trying to annoy her, success!). He likes to be held and pet by anyone but isn’t a huge fan of large crowds. He got his name because I love The Lion King and he looked like a lion… that is all.
Daughter of Mommy cat and sister to Scout and Simba.
Age: 5 years
This little girl was always the runt of the litter so she got extra love and attention. She had a pretty bad respiratory infection as a kitten but bounced back well. She is a lover and a cuddly cat who will jump in your lap at any given moment. However, once you start petting her don’t expect to stop. If you do she will give you little love bites (but they kinda hurt 🙁 ) until you start petting her again. Sometimes it’s best just not to start with this one unless you are in it for the long haul. She is a little love though! She got her name because she was always so fast… she would dart here and there just like a little flash of light.
Socks (male) and Kitty Soft Paws (male)
Brothers from another mother and father… totally not related but we got them as kittens at the same time so they were raised together.
Age: almost 2 years old
So Kitty Soft Paws and Socks were our second attempt at indoor cats. Kevin was on a work trip for a month to Oklahoma City and our youngest son wanted a kitten. OK, sure, why not! How about two? We found a listing for free kittens (two unrelated litters) and got Kitty Soft Paws and Socks. They did really well in the house for about 7 months and then started peeing all over and scratching up everything! The problem with making them outside cats was that our current little posse out there was very territorial and did not like visitors. It took us almost 2 months working with all the cats to get them used to Socks and Kitty Soft Paws. It worked though and you would never know now that they hated outsiders. Kitty Soft Paws loves it outside but Socks is stil adjusting so he gets to come in and out a bit and he hasn’t made a single mess in the house (usually snuggles up somewhere and naps)
Socks has had two hematomas in his ears so he kinda has the “wrestler” ear look going for him. The vet and I have no idea what caused the hematomas but some cats are just more susceptible to them than others and apparently Socks is very susceptible. Socks is a total lover and will let you pet him all day long if not many people are around. Kitty Soft Paws prefers private petting as he tends to hate big crowds. He’s a more one on one kind of lovin’ guy.
Age: Almost 2 years old
So, we had just gotten these two kittens, Socks and Kitty Soft Paws, when I go to church one day and low and behold someone has left a box outside the back church door. It had stormed all night and the box was soaked through. Inside was a soaking wet and shivering kitten covered in fleas. Yup, I took her home.
She went to the vet the next day where it was estimated that she was about 1 week old and had a severe upper respiratory infection. We had to bottle feed (used a syringe for the first couple weeks because she’s was too little and weak for even the kitten bottles) her every hour at the beginning and each week we would add another hour between feedings… those were some loooooong nights! The boys helped which was awesome. She was weighed every day and she steadily started gaining weight. She received a bath with Dawn dish soap every day for a week to get rid of the fleas. After that first week she was FINALLY flea free and her antibiotics were kicking in. She had to stay away from our other kittens because of the fleas and respiratory infection so that was fun, not!
The boys named her and I think it has to do with something from SpongeBob Squarepants? Patricia is an aboslute love and prefers to spend her days and nights sleeping in the entry way. We were able to introduce her to all the other cats when we were acclimating Socks and Kitty Soft Paws so it worked quite well for those three to enter the pack together. Patricia and Socks are best buddies and often snuggle togther.
Please don’t count how many cats we are up to now because then you may not believe that I am in fact NOT a crazy cat lady… You just went back and counted, didn’t you? Don’t judge me…
Well, at this point we had decided no more cats. The whole “inside cats” thing did not work out and we had plenty of outside cats to keep our varmint numbers in check.
So this one day I was driving out past the county animal control place… totally innocent, I was on my way to the place I had gotten my horse to pick up her registration papers that I had forgotten to get several years ago when I bought her (I don’t put a whole lot of stock into registrations and what not). I saw two dead kittens in the road ahead (awww poor things) and as I drove by I noticed a box by the side of the road by the kittens. I drove a little further but something kept nagging at the pit of my stomach.
I turned around and went back. I stopped and checked the box and sure enough there were 3 little kittens in the box. Ummmmm… I couldn’t leave them there to get hit like their littermates so I scooped them up and brought them home (totally forgot to go get registration).
Meet Dump Truck, Mountain Man and Speckles (all male)
Brothers (I’m assuming)
Age: Almost 1 year. We knew these guys would not be indoor cats and they were already eating solid food. After their vet check, flea baths and immunizations they were immediately introduced to the outdoor cats. However, our youngest son really fell in love with them (he’s our cat whisperer) so they did stay inside for a few months. Anyone every have 3 kittens running around your house? They tear up EVERYTHING! Anyways, these guys REALLY wanted to be utside as they would rub against the screens with the other cats, dart out the door every second they could and just in general try to be outside with the other cats. They were all neutered, healed up indoors and then did the inside/outside thing for a few weeks before they became full outdoor cats when the weather turned nice.
These three boys are our friendliest cats of the bunch. They LOVE everything about people… the snuggles, the pets, the love, the carrying, everything! They also love the dogs and the goats. These three are the first ones to meet you when you arrive and will not leave you alone… sorry people with cat allergies 🙁
Hope you enjoyed our walk down kitty lane. Have a purrrfect day!