I had such a good surprise this morning. I went to feed the barn cats as usual and the three siblings rubbed round my legs and then walked slowly in front of me, intertwining themselves as usual – this makes progress annoyingly slow, but they’re cats and that’s what cats do. They were waiting for me by the food dish when suddenly they all scattered. I hadn’t heard anything, but came along with the scoop of dry food and the tin of meat and suddenly a familiar tabby cat crept out in front of me.
For those of you who don’t know or don’t remember, five years ago, a sweet black cat had kittens in my barn. She was struggling to feed them and I didn’t want to get involved but had to in the end. Seeing her pounce on and kill a large grass snake was the final straw. But, once I’d started putting down food, they were my responsibility. I managed to catch all five of them and get them neutered. Mother cat was a darling and wanted to come in the house, but Eloise cat was furious and wouldn’t hear of it. Eventually, she disappeared and I’m sure she found a new home. She was a sweet, loving cat and she deserved a family home. A few months later, she turned up again a couple of times, but I haven’t seen her for about three years. Then, a year or more ago, the friendliest kitten vanished too. I’d been so fond of him, he was brave and protective to his more timid siblings but also loving and let himself be cuddled. I suspected he’d also found a home, but one can never be sure.
But here he was. I recognised him at once. A tabby with quite a lot of black, and with bright green eyes. He tucked into the food – only the tinned food, he wasn’t interested in the dry Go Cat – and the other three had to be fed separately as they were nervous. He came again this evening and this time he wanted to be stroked. He sniffed my hand first, to be sure it was really me. I don’t know if he’ll come back again, but at least I know he’s alive and healthy.
His name is Zain, because Ro’s friend of that name wanted me, if ever I had a boy cat, to call him that name. If I had a female, she would have been Zaina – but Eloise cat was already named when she came to me. So this was next best. I first became especially fond of him when I caught the kittens to be neutered. First, I got mother and three kittens and had to give up on the fourth, but the next day I caught Zain and the last one. Rather than risk losing them both, I kept Zain and his brother in the trap and put it in the car, with the boot lid open, overnight. Next morning, Zain was lying protectively over his scared sibling. He always looked after them but he was never aggressive.
They are all feral cats and I don’t look on them as pets, but I am fond of them and care about them. I still miss the little mother cat. Actually, I loved her and would have really liked to bring her indoors, if Eloise had allowed it.
We let Eloise out for the first time since her operation, as I said we would. She strolled gently outside and sniffed the air, and then walked about checking her territory. She’s had a lovely couple of days. She’s gone upstairs to catch up on her sleep now. I daresay she’ll want to knead us in the middle of the night because that’s when she’s most affectionate. I’m usually awake and glad of the company.