Barn cats are a must for a farm. Cats are usually kept at a farm to maintain the mole, mice and snake population. The cats are fed by the farmer but are not shown much attention. They have a job to do and are important to the farm as a whole.
I learned about barn cats at an early age. I was about ten when my mother sent my sister and me to stay with my grandmother for a few weeks. My mother was going to have her “baby parts” taken out. My grandmother had a special cat named Smokie. He was allowed in the farmhouse every morning after breakfast. Grandma would give Smokie the dish of milk left over from her shredded wheat biscuits. She would pat him on the head and tell him what a food mouser he was. Then Smokie would be put outside to do his man cat duties.
That is what Smokie would do. He would bring decapitated mice to the front porch and proudly display them for my grandmother. Smokie would also mingle with the lady cats. His lady cat friend brought her children to my grandma’s back porch for their breakfast. Grandma named one of the babies precious.
I spent most of the first week holding those baby kittens. I adored them. It was nice to see my harsh mean grandmother show a gentleness to those kittens every morning on the back stoop of the house. She would pet them and tell them what good mousers they would grow up to be.
I loved my grandmother. I spent the week watching her with her household tasks. She taught me to cut and sew a quilt. She was great at making blackberry cobblers. She was smart and very whimsical. She also loved cats just like me.
One morning my grandma went out to feed the cats and they did not come. Smokie has been in for his morning meal but the kittens were no where to be found. Grandma spent the morning calling for precious in her crackling little aged voice. I spent the morning calling for that cat.
The next morning my grandma was calling for the cat again. My older cousin Paul was sitting beside me planning the day out for us. I said how sad it made me that grandma was looking for her lost cat. Paul said she would never find that cat. The kittens had crawled in the car engine and grandpa got them stuck in the fan blade, Grandpa had taken them down to the pond and shot them dead. Why did he not tell grandma.
The next morning and for the rest of our visit grandma would go to her back door and call for Precious. I would sit in the porch swing with big ole tears crying for my grandma not knowing my grandpa’s secret.