A Little Bit Western


The Cat Came Back

Apr 27, 2021

Over the years, we have adopted many farm cats from several different sources. In spite of providing prime feline habitat, including a barn loft full of fresh straw bales, these cats never stuck around. That is, until Marmalade.

I typically enjoy animals, but I appreciate them even more so when they serve a higher purpose by, say, hunting varmints. Hunting unfortunately isn’t a skillset that seems to come naturally to our orange tomcat. A year into his tenure, we had yet to observe him attempt to catch something – anything – but Marmalade finally got his big break after a harsh, late spring blizzard. The kids noticed a weak, disoriented bird struggling in the unexpected snow. Even Marmalade picked up on the fairly obvious cues this ailing little bird was throwing and he was ready to pounce. Blame it on bad timing or poor aim, but somehow, he missed the bird and instead awkwardly fell off the deck and into a deep pile of wet snow. He did not land on his feet and maybe even used up one of his nine lives during the ordeal. The bird, on the other hand, regained its strength and fluttered away, perhaps to live a long and happy life.

Marmalade has also proven to be unlucky in love. Our resident mother cat, creatively named Marmalade’s Girlfriend, has birthed a few litters of kittens since her arrival two years ago. Even though Marmalade has made numerous romantic advances toward her – hence her name – her offspring resemble a different, moody tomcat, leaving little doubt as to who the sire is and sparking many discussions among the children. While their relationship is complicated, Marmalade remains close with Marmalade’s Girlfriend, who is a skilled hunter, adept at bringing home the bacon for her family, and maybe a morsel for Marmalade too.

My relationship with the lazy feline is complicated in its own rite. A memorable low point came when I was hauling groceries in after a long day away from home. There was Marmalade, casually strolling around the corner of my kitchen, meowing an easy-going greeting to me. Did I mention he is NOT a house cat? How did he gain entry? How long had he been sauntering around, enjoying the comforts of my home? His stint as a house cat was abruptly cut short, and hasn’t been repeated again.

While hunting and romance may not be his forte, Marmalade is great at a few things. He is an expert at marking his territory. There isn’t a vehicle, flower pot, or other random object that doesn’t boast the telltale sign that this is Marmalade’s turf. He is also great at being everywhere, and is forever trotting down the lane, dutifully. When we run to the shop a half mile away, Marmalade is already there. When the kids are waiting to get on the school bus, he’s right there waiting too. Whether we are moving around from the barn to the back pasture or the corral, he beats us to these locations and welcomes us with a cool appraisal as if to say, “I wondered when you’d finally arrive.”

Marmalade is affectionate, he’s always grateful for a scratch behind the ears and is a regular topic of family conversation. We can’t help but cheer him on and celebrate his victories, even if they are few and far between. If a cat can be an underdog, then he is exactly that – Marmalade is our underdog.
Marmalade resized


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