Our Rural Roots

The Purrfect Companions

Blogger Katie Pratt shares how this year a litter of barn kittens has differed from past cats on the farm. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Katie Pratt)

Our first official barn cat wandered out of the corn 18 years ago. My toddler named him Fred. He lived in the corn crib but spent winters with the neighbor's cattle.

Other cats have come and gone, feline gypsies that stay for a short time to nibble from the feed pan and drink from the garden fountain. They slink around doing cat things, evidence of their hunts -- feathers and bones -- scattered around the barn. None are friendly, and we've made no effort to change that. Barn cats will do what barn cats do. No need for human interference.

This spring, however, the current farm matriarch decided her litter would live in style. She nosed her way into the heated portion of the shed, setting up house in what was the dog kennel. Our dear Coco passed away a year ago. We have yet to fill the gaping hole she left in our hearts. Mama cat must have sensed this.

Six kittens grew up in that kennel. They quickly learned how to squeeze through the wire mesh walls. I'd find them in a bag of potting soil or stuck in a flowerpot. Unlike previous barn litters, these fluff balls greeted us with rumbling purrs.

As they explored, they found our front porch. Their antics became our nightly entertainment. Wild leaps and sprints through the flower gardens would end in the ultimate wrestling match.

Mama cat has kept on task though. At dusk, we see her leading the brood out to hunt, six bouncing furballs disappearing into the soybeans. A few days later, they're back soundly sleeping amongst the shrubs and ready for another game of hide-and-seek in the flowers.

We've finally faced the fact that these kittens have scratched their way into our hearts. And, while this lot may have bucked the barn cat trend, I'm not worried about them becoming the proverbial fat cats. They come from hardworking stock.


Katie Pratt writes, farms and tries to corral kittens from north-central Illinois. Find her blog at https://theillinoisfarmgirl.com/…