The Cats Came With The Farm

by Kay Zirkel/ Serenity Farm
(Benton City, WA. USA)

In 2006 We purchased a small farm (Serenity Farm) along with the farm were 6 ” barn ” cats. Wild as March hares they were and ready to fight any one or critter who wanted to displace them from the barn.

Before we could trap them there were kittens by three of the females. After much work and learning we finally trapped all the cats and had them spayed or neutered. Total: 20 Barn cats.

Two things I have noticed that might interest readers is this. First there is only one Queen and one king in the group. All the cats defer to them.

When I feed, the king and queen eat first. The others hang back to allow them to eat. The queen cat mothers all of the other cats and the king settles all disputes. I never tire of watching how the cats react to any situations.

The cats allow my four dogs free roam of the barn but will join forces to evict any other dog that happens to enter the barn. So we have had to warn our friends to not allow their dogs to enter our barn area. I am not sure if this behavior is normal or not but here in our farm this is normal. I have yet to see any other feral cats on our property.

As a matter of fact I have never seen any evidence of predators around the barn area either. Since these cats act as a “pride” of sorts we wonder if they might even join forces to protect their territory.

Any thoughts about this? I would welcome discussion from other Barn Cat owners on this subject.

Kay @ Serenity Farm – Benton City, WA. USA

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The Cats Came With The Farm

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Jan 20, 2012 January Blizzard conditions in the barn!
by: Kay@Serenity Farm

So the holidays are over and it’s now mid January, with howling winds and ice and snow, deep snow!
This morning I trudged to the barn, bundled up like an Eskimo to feed and check water for all our critters. After exhausting myself, I sat down on a hay bale to visit with the cats. As usual they came out to inspect me. This was when I noticed old Rascal ( the old neutered tom cat ) was missing. He was generally one of the first to appear.
I went searching for him, checking out all his known hiding places, He was no where to be found.
I called and called but he still was not anywhere I could see him.
After about and hour of searching I was ready to give up. I milked my nanny goat and bottle fed two of my bottle baby kid goats.
Just as I was washing out the feeding bottles I heard Rascals growl meow behind me.
I was so relieved to see the old boy, I snatched him up in my arms to hug him. ( I completely forgot this cat hated to be touched by people!)
I was rewarded for my concern and fears by a huge growl followed by a deep clawing to my left hand and a bite to my right hand as Rascal bolted to the top of the haystack.
After much cussing and much effort on my part to get back in the house to treat my wounds and vanity I have decided the ” No good deed goes unpunished” is true.
I really do not blame Rascal as I have known for years not to try to cuddle him. Oh well! Life does on in the barn. Best to all, Kay

Dec 30, 2011 Christmas in the Barn
by: Kay@Serenity FarmBenton City WA. USA

Christmas time is busy for most all of us, what with shopping and decorating and friends and family. This Christmas has been especially blessed for us.
I visited our barn about 9:00 to give a final good night to all our critters. It was cold and windy out side. Inside heat lamps warmed several areas where our Boer Goat does were settling down to give me our newest crop of kids. As I visited Roey O Donnell’s stall I notice she had delivered her first kid and was busy cleaning the new baby. As I watch mother and baby I notices a slight movement behind Rosy. Very slowly I moved to get a better view. I spied a touch of orange , then a head rose up to show it was none other than Ragamuffin. The old girl was busy washing Rosy’s long ear and seemed not to notice me at all. Darn it! I did not have a camera to capture the minute. ( Sorry )
I stayed in the barn until Rosy had delivered triplets and had cleaned them up and started nursing each one of them. All the time Ragamuffin cleaned rosy and moved to clean each of the three babies in turn.
This old ragged cat has found her calling. We have designated her the “official” barn midwife.
Yes in these hard economic times I am truly bless. I am beginning to feel like ” Raggs “is close to being my favorite cat. ( Next to Coco of course!) I just thought I would share this bit of happy news with you all. Warmest New Year withes to all, Kay

Dec 20, 2011 Obvious you truly care about cats!
by: keenpetite

Just finish reading your story for the second time, it’s truly commendable & obvious you truly care about cats, they’re intelligent, loving, mischievious & tend to be overprotective of whatever they care about. Delighted that you were able to catch them (all of 20)spayed/neuter, taken care of & return to their home (barn)surely you won’t see any rodents. We had a tabby that was adopted as a very young kitten and whenever someone came to visit
she would let us know, specially when they were trying to steal one of our cars.She passed away when she was 20 yrs old.
Hope all is well & the pride lives a long, long time.

Dec 20, 2011 Regarding Ragamuffin
by: Dorothy

Hi Kay, I am enjoying reading about your farm. I hope we get some pictures.

I have a gorgeous blond feral cat that I’ve been taking care of since I moved to my house about 4 years ago. The first time I saw her she was shy and spooky from 20 yards away. I started feeding her and bringing the food closer and closer. It took a long time, but now she lives in my back yard and comes right up to the door at feeding time. She has her own house with a heated pad and a tarp protection from rain. Her ‘apartment’ is right outside my door and I can use a flashlight to see if she’s there when I’m up and the temp is in the high 20’s. It always puts a smile on my face.

But guess what….I still can’t pet her. Sometimes when her best buddy Shadow is here with her in the morning, she acts more brave and I can quickly quickly smooth some of her fur is she isn’t watching me closely.

I wrote a story about Yellow cat when I first started feeding her and I thought she was male. I later learned that she was part of a TNR (trap, neuter and return) program in the neighborhood years before and that she is female. Now also probably 13 years old. You can read the story here dot org/yellow-cat.html (replace with .org)

Long and short, the reason I’m writing is that she’s been around the block a few times and more, and I don’t think I’ll ever get to sit and stroke her like I want to. But she shows affection in so many other ways. So entertaining and predictable.

Cats are so cool. Keep the stories coming.


Dec 20, 2011 Hi Everyone
by: Kay Zirkel @ Serenity Farm

Last night I went to our barn to check on two of our Boer goats who are about ready to kid. The kidding season is just starting here. While I was examining the does, Ragamuffin ( a scruffy yellow tiger stripe barn cat ) came into the goat pen with me. Now you may say, so what? Well this is the first time since we have owned the farm (2006 ) that she has ventured anywhere close to any humane. She seemed to be particularly interested in Rosy the pregnant doe. I made no effort to touch Ragamuffin as I was thrilled she came even this close.
By the way our house cat Coco Hershey Kitty does not ever venture to the barn as she is not a part of their group and they have attack her in the past.( Besides Coco would rather be with her four dogs, who are her guardians and buddies.)
I thought this might be of small interest to the group. Of the 20 bsrn cats we have no real idea as to age, only some of the kittens that were born before we were able fix everyone. Ragamuffin was a mature female at the time of spaying. Our vet thought she was maybe 6-8 years old at the time. So she is maybe 11-13 now. Maybe she is mellowing in her old age. What do you think? Ragards as always Kay

Dec 19, 2011 Our indoor colony
by: Elisa

Our indoor colony is the same way. And it’s not necessarily who you’d think would be king and queen. Our queen is Samantha, a fierce looking very large tabby female who had a very rough life and the most rejected look I’ve ever seen on a cat before we rescued her. And Garfield at 6 months of age is the king. I still haven’t figured that one out, but he’s always the first to get the raw chicken treats and the others stand back until he’s finished.

Dec 19, 2011 Barn cats
by: Dorothy

Good for you honoring the cat by having all the cats neutered and returned to their home site. What you will find is you will rarely see new feral cats on the property. This group will live out their lives in relative peace on the property, and you have essentially solved the problem of over population on your farm. I congratulate you with utmost admiration for taking the time to learn what you have, and following through.

You might want to look at the Alley Cat Allies website (their name, dot org) and read about helping the feral cat. You’ll find you did it right. They would love to hear your story.

Best wishes.


Dec 19, 2011 Hi
by: Michael

Hi Kay. I have never heard of feral cats forming a kind of pride to protect territory but that does not mean that it does not happen.

What may be happening is that each cat considers the barn area their territory and these individual territories are shared or overlap a lot. These cats have adapted to live closely together in this way.

So when a cat enters the territory each cat individually is motivated to defend their territory. This gives the appearance of team work but is in fact individual cats doing the same thing protecting a similar area or the same area.


The Cats Came With The Farm — 2 Comments

  1. Very commendable of you on catching & neutering spaying all 20 feral cats, a big plus no more kittens. Our family has been cat lovers/rescuers/helpers for over 60 yrs. Back in 7/81 my husband was sent to check on a house that was foreclosed, the only living thing was a Tortie with teats hard with milk, after searching for kittens we decided to take this cat home with us. We named her Panchita II because she adopted my husband (Frank) fiercely as her own.Soon she was vaccinated & spayed.
    1990 we moved 100 miles SE of Tucson, Panchita made the 2 hr trip w/o a complaint, adjusted to her new home very well. Morning of 12/01 Panchita was not doing well but she waited for her “owner” to return home, as soon as Frank did, she allowed him to give her a bit of water & within seconds she peacefully passed away in his loving arms. Few weeks later I took our other cat for a check up & casually mentioned that “Panchita died at
    21 yrs old” to my surprise vets reply was “No Mam, Panchits was @ least 24
    just wish more owners cared about their animals the way you do”
    I simply said, “Thank you, we consider them family from day 1”

    My best to you & yours,
    keenpetite aka Carmen
    SE Arizona in USA

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