Barn Cats Thrive

Jellicle Cats come out to-night
              Jellicle Cats come one come all:
              The Jellicle Moon is shining bright—
              Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball.

Jellicle Cats are black and white,
Jellicle Cats are rather small;
Jellicle Cats are merry and bright,
And pleasant to hear when they caterwaul.
Jellicle Cats have cheerful faces,
Jellicle Cats have bright black eyes;
They like to practise their airs and graces
And wait for the Jellicle Moon to rise.

Jellicle Cats develop slowly,
Jellicle Cats are not too big;
Jellicle Cats are roly-poly,
They know how to dance a gavotte and a jig.
Until the Jellicle Moon appears
They make their toilette and take their repose:
Jellicle Cats wash behind their ears,
Jellicle dry between their toes.

Jellicle Cats are white and black,
Jellicle Cats are of moderate size;
Jellicle Cats jump like a jumping-jack,
Jellicle Cats have moonlit eyes.
They’re quiet enough in the morning hours,
They’re quiet enough in the afternoon,
Reserving their terpsichorean powers
To dance by the light of the Jellicle Moon.

Jellicle Cats are black and white,
Jellicle Cats (as I said) are small;
If it happens to be a stormy night
They will practice a caper or two in the hall.
If it happens the sun is shining bright
You would say they had nothing to do at all:
They are resting and saving themselves to be right
For the Jellicle Moon and the Jellicle Ball.

-Bar”The Song of Jellicle Cats” by T.S. Elliot

tire scene from the musical “Cats”

Because it was such an iconic scene- cats amongst tires- this ode to the magical barn cats had to happen. Muir, Lucia, and Marrow are all thriving here at EEC Forest Stewardship. We’re lucky to have such savvy cats on hand, for they are fierce enough to hunt rats and rabbits, while cunning enough to avoid owls, coyotes, and bobcats (to name a few threats). Being a successful barn cat in a temperate rainforest with many apex predators is no easy feat, but for the joy of free roaming through a forest landscape, and lounging on the porch in an armchair on a sunny afternoon. They ardently hunt rodents and keep the vermin at bay- leaving our grain room, barn, coop, and house, as well as the other buildings free of nibbling nuisances. Cats also hunt birds, reptiles, bugs, and whatever else peaks their interest in a moment of predatory relish.

To help mitigate the loss of species we cherish, the cats are fed in the morning and not at night- this focuses more of their hunger energy on the nocturnal rodents, while sparing the dawn chorus some of it’s feline frustrations. Most of our resident birds got the cat memo early on, and have been careful to stay away from low hanging branches or shrubs around the house. I’ve not seen much tree hunting- as the towering evergreens are often hosting danger in the form of predator birds large enough to target cats as scrumptious snacks. Lucia came home with a nasty puncture wound we’re sure came from sharp talons. Great Horned Owls are some of the most dangerous cat killers on the wing. All of our feline friends keep a close watch on the sky. When we bring them into the house, they are often transfixed in horror if the ceiling fan is on. “Eyes on the sky kitties, eyes on the sky.”

Our 4th cat, a rescue from the COVID related moving crisis of a friend’s parent, has lived a good life with us for a few years, but has not melded into the rest of the pride with any effort. In fact, he’s apt to terrorize the other cats at will, which has not endeared him to us any more than the other cats. Recently, a friend hit it off with him during a cuddle session on the porch, and seemed to really enjoy his company. We know she would be a great cat mom and have offered him to her in hopes he can become a single familiar where other cats will not be a problem. Though the farm is perfectly capable of hosting 4 cats, and might again some day, our three who make up the main feline family at EEC are more than enough in rodent management. We’ll always have at least two cats if any, because they do better with a buddy, especially learning the ropes of being outside in this environment. I’ll often see two cats curled up together for warmth and safety, which is an important survival technique around here. Stay together and you’ll live longer.

Cats at EEC are first and foremost rodent exterminators, but they are also cuddly foot warmers on extra cold nights, and great snuggle buddies when you want a warm furry friend in your lap or on your shoulder. Our cats are very docile and approachable, which adds charm to the farm. They will usually come out to the cars to meet and escort people to the house as furry ambassadors. The cats will also join us on walks around the property, they love to adventure with human companions, and sometimes hitch a ride back up the hill from the creek if they can. All are good shoulder cats for this reason- we might have our hands full and not be able to carry an animal. However, this “trick” has also led to cats climbing people when it’s least convenient or expected. We’re so grateful for the work and companionship EEC cats offer, and look forward to many more years of cat antics.

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