The barn kittens are turning into rather handsome little cats now.  Probably slightly overfed, they certainly aren’t skinny and they have splendidly thick coats, ready for the winter.  When I think of the mother cat back in the summer, when I reluctantly started to feed her; her coat was a bit sparse and constantly moulting and she was thin, but now all five of them are happy and healthy.

I still can’t really tell the two black kittens apart, except by their behaviour.  Fred is the bolder and he comes up to me with Zain, the friendly tabby, and lets me stroke him as long as I don’t make sudden movements.  His brother Barney is more wary, but he likes to make eye contact and stares at me with interest, not dropping his gaze when I catch his eye.  Their sister Betty is shy, coming closer than Barney but neither watching me nor letting me touch her.  I don’t try, I’m not bothered about it.

Mother cat loves to be petted and would rather be stroked than be fed – but I suspect that the youngsters are nowhere near as good as she is at hunting: they’ve never needed to be.  Eloise still really hates her and will attack at the least provocation – Cat runs, startled, then stops and turns and there is then deadlock. Cat never attacks back, but stands her ground.  I go away, so that neither has to lose face in front of me.  Roses’ cat Rummy won’t accept Cat either – there’s plenty of room for everyone, but Cat craves affection and I’m sorry for her.  Nothing I can do, though.

There are various places that they can get in and out of the barns, so they are well sheltered.  In addition, I’ve stacked seven bales of straw – three sides are two bales high, the fourth one bale high, with a cover over them and a layer of hay inside, under the Dutch barn, so they can be snug there too.  I’ve occasionally had cause to pick up Cat and Zain, who are startled but polite – none of them has ever shown teeth nor claws.  They wind themselves round my feet as I go to feed them which, with my dodgy hip, is a nuisance, but I know they’re just treating me as another cat and so I put up with it.

Eloise continues to become more affectionate and secure here.  She is a home loving little cat and never wanders far, but likes to climb on roofs and up trees.  Having installed a cat flap which reads microchips, there is no longer the problem of RasPutin, the huge male tabby, father of the barn cats, coming in, though Rummy can.  He and Eloise are good friends, though he is conscious that, when here, he’s on her and my territory and he’s a little cautious.

Never having lived with a cat before, I find it interesting to observe their ways.  I have no inclination to compare Eloise with a dog, I’ve recognised that there is no direct comparison, right from the start.  I’m going to take her with me to Wink’s next week – I think she’d rather be with me than on her own, even with the travelling.  I hope so, anyway.  If she’s too unsettled, it’ll have to be a one-off, but I hope not.  I love her very much and can’t bear to leave her here at Christmas without me, even though she can go through to Roses whenever she wants.

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