Kahn was someone’s house cat once. I’m almost sure of it. Feral cats don’t come to humans to ask for help, which is just what he was doing when he and I first met. It was the coldest, darkest part of winter, more than a year before we took over at the ranch. I was helping to keep an eye on things while the owners were away, doing evening chores and hanging out with a friend, Katie, who had come along to keep me company.
The night was quiet, so we heard the his cries from outside the shut barn door. Katie slid it open to find a battered-looking, black cat standing just out of reach. It was snowy, and he was cold. His inky fur was rough and made him stand in stark contrast to the snow. He held one foot above the cold ground, obviously wounded and infected. His right eye was swollen nearly shut, and despite his size–Kahn is a big cat–he was desperately underweight and looked very small. He continued to cry as we looked on, but skirted us. Nervous and scared but pleading for help.
I called L to tell her what I was looking at and to ask her what she wanted me to do. Thankfully, she asked Katie and I to catch him, so she could take him to the vet and get him fixed up (because she’s a good person like that). I was relieved, because I wouldn’t have been able to leave him there, and my 800 square foot house was already full up with three cats and two dogs of my own.
It took both of us, an especially heavy duty pair of gloves, and a large pile of cat food to catch Kahn. Katie got a hold of him when his hunger overcame his fear (he barely noticed us pick him up once he started chomping on kibble), and we put him in a good sized kennel for the night, out of the cold, waiting for his vet visit the next day. He then joined the ranks of well-fed, well-vetted, and well-cared for barn cats. In other words, he asked for help at just the right barn.
As with the llamas, when the ranch changed hands, Kahn stayed. Other than my insistence upon bringing my big dogs to this place, Kahn has been fairly content with the new management, as I always keep an ample supply of cat food in the cat/tack room, brought with me a kitty tree and saddle pads that he finds agreeable for sleeping, and have even introduced the addition of canned food to dinner-time.
Kahn likes to hang out near the house where he can be seen through the windows. It pisses off the dogs, which he seems to enjoy, and also allows him to keep tabs on the “hooman who feedzez the catz” (pretty sure that’s my name…). He would very much like to be a house cat, and occasionally he tries to slip inside, but he despises other male cats, and I have three of them in the house, so in my mind that’s a nonstarter.
Kahn is our “head barn cat,” “chief ruler of the tack room,” and “his royal highness” (Kahn, after all, means King), but only because neither of the other two barn cats care for honorary titles.
(Katrina, left, much prefers to be “Top Mouser,” her own well-earned, no-nonsense title. And Katelyn, right, doesn’t feel the need for acclaim or title as long as she is provided ample attention, food, and cuddling.)
Kahn likes to occasionally remind the peasantry (read: me…and probably the dogs) that he possesses “all that the light touches.” He does so through his liberal use of prepositions. Kahn climbs INTO the wheelbarrow to remind me that it is his, and he just lets me borrow it. Kahn climbs OVER the hay bales to ascertain their quality and determine to what degree leveling taxes on the hay –in the form of canned food–might be necessary. Kahn walks THROUGH the horse barn to check on chore progress. (You get the idea.)
Earlier this week, I took one of the horses to the vet. Afterwords, I unloaded the horse and drove my horse trailer down the farm lane back to the front driveway where I backed it into its parking spot. As I got out to unhitch it, I heard the most pathetic yowling. It sounded a lot like that first night in the barn, and for a moment, I panicked. I ran over to the trailer, calling for Kahn and checking under the truck and trailer, fearing for a moment that I had run over the KING!
Under the truck? No cat.
Under the trailer? No cat.
Still, his cries continued.
It took a moment, perhaps a moment longer than it should have, for me to think to look up.
Kahn, it appeared, had decided to climb ONTO the trailer when I unloaded the horse, taking the opportunity to survey his kingdom from a great height.
Mistakes, it seems, had been made. (Not by Kahn, of course; by me.) Once it became apparent that the trailer was no longer in motion, Kahn settled down and enjoyed his warm spot for a moment. (Of course, he thought, it was silliness for the hooman to panic.)
I turned away for a moment, once I realized he was ok, to unhitch the truck from the trailer. Kahn decided to take the opportunity to climb INTO the truck.
(The truck is also his…He’s pretty sure.)
More than once, Kahn’s adventures have landed him in less than ideal situations, but I have never once regretted getting him out of a scrape.
(We still don’t know how he got into this round bale net; it was tied down on every side.)
Here’s to barn cats everywhere, however they come into our lives.