Before I could even think of acquiring a barn cat, however, I needed to both finish the tack room and cease my autumn travel schedule so that the cat would have a fair chance to become acclimated without barn sitters coming and going.
My last scheduled trip was the second weekend in November. (And what a WONDERFUL girls weekend that was!) Once I returned home, I put out an 'in search of' ad on Facebook. "ISO: Spayed female cat to be a mouser for my horse barn."
Within minutes, a girlfriend of mine who always seems to be stumbling upon stray cats messaged that she was pretty sure she had a contender. I messaged her immediately to inquire further.
It turns out, the possible cat was the feral momma responsible for all of the kittens my friend has been rehoming the past several years. She even has a now-two-year old daughter of this momma cat! Naturally, I agreed immediately to take this little cat before the winter weather settled in for good.
My friend got the cat a spay appointment the day after our conversation, a Thursday, caught the little girl the night before (she was living in their shed with a possum!), and I rendezvoused with her Thursday afternoon to bring the little girl home.
|Meet Nymeria. All 6.5# of her.|
|Driving home over the Eastern Continental Divide|
|Still high on drugs!|
So, blog fam, meet Nymeria. Starlight Lane Farm's first employee. ;-)
Yes, I named her after a direwolf from Game of Thrones. #noregrets But it does suit her. Nymeria the direwolf was semi-wild (this cat is feral) and helped humans as needed while still doing her wolfy thing. Same-same for this little cat. I wanted her to have a huntress' name, and one that wasn't often used at that. Nymeria fit the bill very well. Bonus that she's grey!
When I brought her home and got her out of the trap, she immediately fled to a corner to hide from me. Which, duh. I had a basket/pillow/blanket setup for her, but it wasn't in a corner. I quickly rearranged things to make her a safe little cave-space. Fortunately, she's familiar enough with people to be okay with pets if she's in a contained place with you as long as you're slow and deliberate about your actions.
|"I hate you. But I like this bed. But I also hate you." Nymeria, probably|
|Pre-couch setup hidden behind tupperware containers|
She was pretty damn happy about her setup. Food and water were close by. The tack room is heated. She had a lot of peace and quiet. And the stupid human (me) didn't push her to do anything beyond stay quiet and heal following her spay surgery.
I spoke to her daily when I went into the tack room. She started meowing in greeting. I then would offer her my hand to sniff. When she started reaching to sniff me, I started offering her pets. Which she LOVED. Instant purr box.
And so my routine became feed the horses, muck, and pause for a few minutes to pet Nymeria before heading up to the house. With each passing day, I would pet her a little longer.
When I moved the couch in, the petting was taken to another level because I could sit on the couch and idly pet her while I read through things on my phone after my horse chores.
|Happily in her corner.|
|Even on the couch when I put her there! Well, before she darted away to the corner lol|
Sometimes, the little weirdo would sit in her litter box (most definitely NOT using the bathroom) while I was on the couch. It was kinda hilarious.
With the introduction of the couch, Nymeria began exploring more and even began sleeping in a new place.
|Can you find her?|
|How about now?|
|Right between two saddles lol|
|Not so sure about me offering a pet in this new location!|
After two weeks of healing cooped up in the tack room, I purchased a cat door to install. I didn't have the right saw blade though, so Nymeria ended up spending an additional week in tack room purgatory before gaining freedom. I don't think it was the worst thing though because she was able to gain a fair bit of weight. I was also able to get her more accustomed to my presence...
|Hello little one.|
NO, HUMAN. NO.
|Don't worry. She changed her mind and thought it was pretty nice. Settled in and became quite the little purr box.|
|And then she wandered over to the couch, perched, and watched the horses eat their dinner.|
|It was adorable.|
|Yeah, she's a little cross-eyed. It's endearing.|
|It was nice that she felt comfortable enough to sit on the [other side] of the couch and hang out with me.|
Finally, I got the cat door installed 3 weeks after bringing Nymeria home. I left the door off for a week so it was just a portal, deciding that this would be easier for her to become used to.
And I was right. I knew Nymeria was using it based on the evidence in the litter box and the disappearing food, but beyond that, I didn't know she existed. I didn't see her for a week!
But then I finally found her hideout:
She's basically lying the exact same spot she did in the tack room, but 11-12 feet higher. And she's been in that spot every time I've looked since finding it.
I am still trying to teach her that the cat door can be used with the door on it, but it's a work in progress. I think we'll get there though with the help of wet food. (I want her to have tack room access because it is the only heated space and I feel better about leaving cat food in the tack room than in the barn proper. We've got a lot of possums, raccoons, and skunks and I don't really care to feed them, too, on the off chance I don't close the barn door and they wander in...)
So while the cat door will take time to figure out (or not, and I'll have to come up with an alternative situation), I'm happy to report that she is already performing her mousing duties seriously. I won't share the photo, but she did eat and puke up part of a mouse on a stall mat for me. (LOL) I have never been so excited to see a puked up mouse in my life!
I'm looking forward to having this little lady on staff for many years to come and am happy to provide her room and board for her services. Here's hoping that she has a very successful career and that we share a great partnership.