Every time I walk by a new straw stack and catch a whiff of the grainy stalks, I think of kittens. When I was a girl, that’s where our barn cats always hid their new litters. A farm just doesn’t seem complete without a shovel or two in the back of the truck and a straw stack with a nest of kittens born between the bales.
That’s why I thought Boots, our cat, would be glad we stacked the hay for the steers with a little opening between the second layer bales. It would be perfect for her babies. The haystack is also close to the feed bunk, and where there is spilled feed there are mice.
I was certain she would recognize the haystack with supply of mice as a good home, so when she showed up on the doorstep noticeably thinner one morning, we went straight to the haystack to see the new kittens. They weren’t there.
After a while, I gave up looking for them. If a cat can’t pick the obvious good choice then there is no telling what she will choose. But Calvin is a hunter and is willing to wait and watch. He sat outside observing Boots. Eventually she led him to the lean-to, back behind an old board, in between a pile of flattened inner tubes. There, on the cold dirt floor, was her litter of five.
We took a blanket out to them and hoped they wouldn’t freeze. After a few days we moved them to a warmer place, but as soon as she could, Boots carried them back to the inner tubes. She knows better than we how to raise kittens.
Right now, they’re in the cute, loveable stage and topple over each other as they come out to soak up the sun. We took advantage of that endearing stage and got them all “spoken for” while they’re in it. While I may not know the best place to have kittens, I do know the best way to find a good home for them.
By Jane Payne