Barn Cats- a very special kind of cat!

Barn cats in their natural habitat

I’ve had several recent encounters with barn cats which has caused me to think a lot about these special animals. Barn cats…they aren’t truly outdoor cats but they are certainly NOT house cats. They are their own family of feline that has adapted to a particular way of life and we must all come to terms with their existence.

Now, by no means, do I wish to demean the barn cat. I understand that they serve a unique and important purpose of warding of vermin of all kinds within the barn. I appreciate their role. But in doing so, it seems they feel they have earned the right to do just about anything they please within the confines of their premises.

I have had barn cats leap on to my back while I am hooftesting a horse. I have had barn cats scale my leg like Mount Everest using their razor sharp talons. They claim anyone entering their farm as one of their own to either shower favor upon or to ignore….depending on how they feel that day.

And do barn cats have some sort of special death wish? Seriously, it feels like they go out of their way to get in and around and on and under horses that are being worked on by a veterinarian. Just yesterday, a cat at one particular barn insisted on trying to rub against the HIND LEG of a horse that I was trying to do lameness flexions on. Neither the horse nor myself were all that pleased about the cat’s involvement. But barn kitty sure didn’t seem to mind that he was within a hair’s breadth of death from getting kicked or stomped by this horse.  I have had barn cats jump onto the HEAD of a  sedated horse that I was suturing a laceration on. How we all didn’t end up injured in that scenario astounds me to this day.

These two are waiting to gain entry to the vet truck

And here’s another thing…..what on earth is the barn cat’s fascination with the vet’s coat, equipment, truck etc all about? I open my truck, they try to  jump in. I take off my coat, they immediately claim it as their new bed. I set up a computer, or xray machine or ultrasound and the cat needs to inspect every screen and keyboard. I once had a barn cat rip a keyboard key off of a computer keyboard and take off. No joke! I still don’t have a “D” key on that keyboard to this day!

“I want a chiro exam!”

I will give them one thing…..barn cats are generally so loving and starving for attention, that I generally don’t mind working on them. They will purr through Rabies vaccinations (and I definitely recommend that ALL barn cats have a rabies vaccination!) And head butt you while you lance a cat bite abscess. Now PLEASE don’t take this to mean that I want to do more work on feline patients. I am an EQUINE veterinarian and intend to continue down that path for the foreseeable future.

I am sure all of us have some great barn cat stories. They are truly an entertaining and mischievous package all rolled into a ball of fluff and tail! I’m sure we would miss them if they weren’t around. But really …I could do without the acrobatic antics while I’m working on their horse buddies! What are you favorite barn cat stories?



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