Barn Kittens

When David, my vet, came on Tuesday he had mentioned that his office had some free barn kittens. One of the receptionists owned a dairy farm and had brought in a litter to find homes for them. A veterinary assistant had asked permission to neuter them, for free, as practice. So here were these kittens, neutered, vaccinated, and free.

I had always assumed Lucy would not have a kitten experience. DH is allergic to cats. He’s never been tested but he’s had a cold in the head for the past fourteen years, ever since I brought home Tam, our tabby house cat, as a kitten for Jon when he was nine. Though DH never complains, I had long since promised him that when Tam dies of old age, we would not have another indoor cat. Now, for barn patrol, I’d figured I would avoid the expense and hassle of starting a kitten. Surely it would be smarter to rescue an adult cat that had already had all his medical care and knew something about mice. When I’d visited the humane society, I hadn’t even approached the tempting cages of six- and eight-week-old kittens. God makes kittens adorable on purpose.

But — these were free. Five months old. And born in a dairy barn. One of the issues with Boo had been that he was a city cat. He was just as terrified by the cows and horse as he was by me. Once he leaped to the top of the wall of the sheep stall, took one look at the Cat-Eating Sheep below, and flipped backwards off the wall in horror. In contrast, these kittens had received on-the-job training. And Lucy would be so thrilled…

Our dear friend, Kate, eighteen, has been visiting for the holiday. Kate is an alumna of our school and graduated four years ago. We’ve known her since she was nine. There is a five-year age gap between Kate and Lucy but over the years Kate spent many, many hours playing at our house. As a child she was famously absentminded. Once little Kate arrived, took off her snow boots at the door, and revealed she was wearing only one sock. “Kate! Where’s your other sock?” Puzzled yet cheerful: “Oh, I guess I forgot to put it on!” Today Kate is a high school senior on the honor roll, but just cheerful and quick with a hug. We all love her.

Yesterday afternoon Lucy, Kate, and I drove over to the vet office. I’d been told there were only two kittens left. I’m not an idiot. I knew we would bring two kittens home. We took a cat crate in the car.

Lucy and Kate were both in heaven. They played with the kittens on the floor while I made arrangements at the front desk. In under twenty minutes we were out the door.

The kittens are almost indistinguishable, silver-grey tabbies, a male and a female. “Twins!” I said. “Who are some famous twins?”

Lucy named the kittens Freddie and Flossie, for the younger pair of Bobbsey Twins. This made me smile. My father, born in 1916, read the Bobbsey Twins in the early 1920s — in fact I still have one volume of his set. I read every book in the series in the 1960s. Jon read a few in the 1990s. And Lucy read a few in the 2000s. The Bobbsey Twins are practically a family affair.

We drove the kittens to our barn. The girls happily decided that Flossie preferred Lucy and Freddie preferred Kate.

We set them up in the cat fort in the tack room. As it was 25° and they are babies, I laid in a heating pad to keep them warm. Later, while our pizza dough was rising, we drove back to check on them one last time. They seemed snug and content.

I pray they won’t be eaten by coyotes. I may not let them out of the barn until spring.

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