My mother's cat Tabby died yesterday. Tabby was a barn cat, and spent her time with horses. She was at least 14 1/2 years old. Someone dropped her over 13 years ago, during a blizzard in 1993. She was cared for (and named Tabby) by an elderly woman who lived next door to my parents.
Tabby was pregnant when she was dropped, and after she had kittens, my mother took her and had her spayed, earning her the knickname "52," because that's how much it cost. One of the kittens, now old and somewhat wild, is still hanging around there. When the woman couldn't take care of herself, much less Tabby, any more, my mother started feeding her, and it wasn't long before Tabby migrated from the empty house to the barn. That was about 10 years ago.
She was a good cat, and I liked her. Although a small cat, she scared many a dog, and in her day, she more than scared many a rodent. A funny Tabby story is that once when my parents took her to the rabies shot clinic, Tabby managed to squirm away, and their dog Hobo chased her. She ran right up a tree, and a neighbor had to climb up and retrieve her. Several people at the clinic didn't know that Hobo and Tabby were with the same people - they watched Tabby and my mother sympathetically, clucking disapprovingly at Hobo and my father. They were probably thinking, "How could that man allow that bad dog to terrorize that woman and that poor cat!" Tabby was generally in control of all dog interactions, driving canines away from the barn, and Hobo was afraid of her. I guess chasing her that day was his revenge.
Last night, when we went out to dinner, it seemed to me that I saw stray cats everywhere, looking at me, perhaps auditioning to be the next barn cat. One was a half-grown kitten, very cute. But my mother doesn't need any help in that department.
Here's a story from the Freeman, updating the status of the Game Farm animals.