Monday, December 30, 2019


With the decision to build a barn also came the decision that there would be a resident barn cat. We have enough of a mouse problem in our house that I knew the barn would have a healthy population, too. C'est la vie when you live in the middle of a field.

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
Happily enjoying the pets
A lot less fear in her eyes

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.

Ignore the spilled paint on the box lol, it's been repurposed a lot
Oh hai there, Nymeria. Weirdo.

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. 
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:

High atop the tack room

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.


  1. OH she's adorable. Definitely landed in a great home. FYI when I have trained cats to use a cat door I started with holding the door up but there. after a few days/weeks of that I would let it close behind them - when they bat at it to get out they see that it moves.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I've been propping it open and luring with food hoping that once she goes IN she'll wanna try harder to get out? Work in progress for sure. Though things have definitely stalled out because sometime over the weekend she left the barn... I'm sure she's around, but I haven't seen her and she hasn't eaten any of the food that remains out in the barn! Hoping as the weather turns in coming days she will seek shelter of the barn again!

    2. oh no. It's always a risk with a feral cat. She is very likely around and perhaps not hungry because of the rodents.

  2. What a cutie! Also thanks for not sharing the photo of the puked up mouse, I see enough of that in my own barn 😱😂 haha

  3. it took me a hot minute to find her between the saddles. It's actually best you probably had her in the tack room for 3 weeks, it helps them associate the area more and not just wander off. She is EXTREMELY cute and looks like she'll be a top mouser :P

    1. Unfortunately, I haven't seen her since the 26th! Food and litter are still out in the barn...which haven't been touched. I think I'm going to borrow a friend's trailcam to see if she's still around the property.

  4. Awe...she is cute. I'm glad she is sticking around even if it is 12' up in the air and hard to see her

  5. I do tons of TNR work for my job (and get to speak about it at a conference) and am so happy to read this! Sounds like the intro to her new space went perfectly! I'd imagine that once she gets used to all the sounds etc. she will feel more comfortable about coming back down and perhaps hanging out in the tack room again. I'm glad she is catching mice for you! Yay for having a barn cat!

    1. I had hoped that 3 weeks in the tack room and a subsequent 2ish weeks in the barn would be good to teach her her new "home", but she seems to have vacated the barn with no plans to return... I've got food and litter out still to entice her to make it "home", but no sightings since the 26th before she got out. I'm not even sure when/how she slipped away! Had hoped to keep her locked in the barn until spring.

    2. ahh bummer. You may be surprised and she returns. I assume food isn't being eaten?

  6. Awww, she's a cutie! SO in love with your tack room and your whole barn...what a satisfying way to wrap up the year (and the decade), with your ponies in your own backyard!

  7. She's cute! Our barn cat is so anti-social we can't get anywhere near her. Even after keeping her in the tack room for a month. She's a good mouser though - I find the remains around the property. But she's too skittish to spend time INSIDE the barn. I'm thinking I'll need to get another barn cat.

    1. Oohh interesting. Thanks for sharing this. Nymeria seems to have escaped the barn sometime between the 26th-27th. Not sure when/how. I was pretty good about keeping the doors closed constantly. Still, creatures be creatures...

      I'm beginning to have the same thoughts about another barn cat. We'll see if Nymeria turns up; despite food and litter being out + barn doors open, she hasn't touched a thing. I think I'm going to borrow a trailcam to spy around the property to see if I can spot her.

    2. When our cat first got out of the barn, we didn't see her for a good 2 weeks. I was pretty sure we'd never see her again. I kept some food out for her and it started getting eaten. I wasn't sure if it was wildlife eating it, but then I spotted the cat one day. You might want to try putting some food outside (I know, I know raccoons and such) but if she's skittish of going in the barn, but if nearby, the food might lure her back.

    3. THANK YOU. Yes. I've got food outside and in the barn. The outside food does get eaten. Not sure if it's my resident possum or Nymeria, but oh well. Guess I'll keep doing it and hope I see her sometime soon! It helps that the dogs are contained to the yard and don't venture down toward the barn.

    4. Maybe putting the food away at night could help with the possum eating it? It would give her all day to eat some and there are probably some long stretches where it is quiet enough for her to feel safe enough to eat.. just a thought

    5. A great thought! I'm getting a trail cam tonight to find out for sure what's eating the bit of food I leave out every night. Nym always ate at night when she was in the tack room (despite food being available all day) so I just kept up with the routine. Will def try this out though!! Thank you.

  8. She is adorable! I hope she turns back up.

  9. She's so cute and I am glad she acclimated to her new role!