Last night, the deer returned. Having spotted them out the back door, Maryelizabeth looked out the bedroom door to see if they were also on that side of the house. Instead of a mule deer, she saw a cat drinking from the pond.
It could have been a random stray just passing through. On the other hand, it could be a new barn cat. We won’t know until we see it a few more times if it’s really here to stay a while. But we haven’t heard the wall mouse or the ceiling mouse in days, and they haven’t turned up in our traps. And every now and then the dogs launch into barking fits in their corral, but we can’t see what they’re barking at. Barn cats tend to be quick and stealthy, disappearing into the barn on short notice, so the dogs might have been aware of this cat long before we were.
We’re hoping this one will stick around. Most of our barn cats have been utterly feral, with little interest in getting to know us. That’s easier all the way around, as those who attach to humans also infuriate the dogs. And barn cats have a tendency to not survive long—there are plenty of predators around who can take them out.
But the ones who thrive do a great deal to keep the rodent population down (which, in turn, keeps the snake population at bay, by depriving them of their favored meals). They are frequently courageous, going after jackrabbits far larger than themselves, for instance. And cats, while not as fun to watch as deer, have a certain charm of their own.
So if you’re really out there, barn cat, stay a while.