The prodigal cat returns

You know how when you lose an animal and you might wish from time to time that you could stroke it’s fur again or just look into his eyes one more time? I get that way anyway and when I am feeling those feelings I often get a visit from that beloved pet in a dream. I feel comforted and maybe a bit sad when I wake up. I like to think maybe my pets spirit visited me in my dream and that we are still connected. 

Well this morning my wish came true in real life. Our very first barn cat SHELDON the one we called Shell at first BC we found him at the gas station as a kitten and I misdiagnosed his sex as female -then we realized she was a he and he became Sheldon (deep breathe) he returned! Yes he came back after over TWO years. Closer to three. 

Sheldon was always a wanderer. He shared the barn with our two other barn cats Mango and momma. Sheldon would come and go and sometimes was gone for a couple weeks. Once he was at the neighbors and was stuck in their shed. That time -BC he had been gone a week -we had put flyers in local mailboxes with his photo. He was lucky that the neighbor decided they needed a tool in the dead of winter or he may have been dead. When that door opened Out he shot -the neighbor reported -and home he came. 

We got used to his absences and didn’t get too worried BC they usually only lasted a day or two. Then a weird thing happened. We had gotten chickens and had had them for over a year. At the time they were free range.  I had gotten a new batch and had just let them out to roam free. Well we realized on hen was really a rooster. Sheldon didn’t seem to like this at all. He was the car that would lay on top of the coop and watch all the hens and ducks.  He kind of backed off as the rooster grew.  I never saw an altercation but I did notice that the cat wasn’t watching the hens like he had been. Then one day Sheldon was gone and he didn’t return. We were used to this but his normal time away extended into a week and just as I was considering putting some flyers out again we got a note in our box from a family who found a cat. They lived two houses down and their land touched ours out In our pastures. 

Kevin went over and sure enough there was Sheldon. Kevin brought him home but in three days he left. Maybe he was put off by that rooster. We decided that maybe life was better at the neighbors. They had fed him so yeah there was free the food thing and no chickens and no rooster. So we left it alone. If the neighbors didn’t want him there they knew where he lived. 

Barn cats are an odd bunch. They live a tough life. Our cats (we have had only one for a while) have a big bin of food at their disposal. They don’t have to find food but they do live in our barn. They come and go. Our cat Mango lives a secret life. Sometimes I see her head in the field looking into the crops waiting for some vermin to kill. She lives in the rafters in the barn and on the hay. She loves to be petand gets  overstimulated  and will scratch when you stop. She comes out when she feels like it -she’s her own “person”.   

Over the last couple years since Sheldon has been gone we all wondered about him. We missed him. One day after he had been gone maybe a year my neighbor on the other side of us told me she found a dead cat in her shed. She though it may have been ours. I chose to believe it wasn’t and that he was living at the other neighbors but as time went on I wasn’t so sure. 

The neighbors where we hoped he was living had been in upheaval for a while as the older resident there Lou had been very ill. There was a lot going on there. I often wondered if Sheldon was still there. But we just felt that if he was still alive he had chosen where he wanted to live and I respected that but I sure hoped I would see him again. And today I did! 

I heard the buzz that says I had a new text on my phone at about 6:55 am. I suspected it was my daughter letting me know one of my sons had missed the bus-but instead there was a photo of a cat with a caption “is this Sheldon?”  Holy cat! It sure looked like him. She had to get in the bus but told me he came from across the street and was rubbing up against her. 

I yelled to my son Luke who wasn’t feeling well today and is staying home that Sheldon might be outside. He ran out but didn’t see him. I was still in bed (mom doesn’t get up that early BC mom doesn’t have to catch a bus!) I heaved myself up got in sweatshirt fully determined to find this cat. I open the door and there was Luke sitting on the porch with the cat in his lap. It was Sheldon! No mistaking him as he has a half mustache that is his most identifiable feature. Our cat was back. 

I scooped him up and holy heck he was like lead! I realized our cat had been well taken care of in his absence. He was very friendly but not sure he wanted to be held. I am very allergic to cats but I wanted Kevin to see him. (And I wanted to take him further from the road)   Kevin was training in our gym so I walked in with the cat and the look on Kevin’s face was priceless. 

Sheldon didn’t want to stay in the gym but he was interested in checking out the barn. He didn’t seem to want to run off too quickly. We got to pet him and hug him. And notice how freaking fat he is. We joked that he had been sitting in a cushy window for the last two years looking out at the world getting fat. Then he broke free. We laughed BC he had trouble jumping down from the work table where the cat food is in the barn. A feat that would have been nothing to him a couple years ago. Our boy got soft. Did he even have barn cat sense anymore ?  He didn’t have a collar on but that was no surprise the the couple years he was with us he shook every collar we got him.  We decided finally that barn cats may be safer with no collar. 

Will he stay? I’m not placing a bet on that. I am pretty sure he will go back to whoever has been caring for him after realizing the barn cat life is pretty hard. But maybe I’m wrong       I respect the choices of barn cats (or former barn cats). They are never really “ours”. You can’t make them stay.  But I’m sure glad he came back for a visit at least. It’s like a gift -the chance to touch a being you really missed and it wasn’t a dream. 

Thanks for reading. 

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