Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In praise of barn cats
I started thinking about farm cats recently when our middle-aged house cat, Tuffy, was diagnosed with diabetes. Jeepers, where did that come from? Of course, we're going to try to take care of him, but there was a part of me that questioned whether I was going too far in intervening in nature. I wondered what would happen if old Tuff were a barn cat?
Well, he might get a little extra feed and water. But how likely is it that he would get insulin shots twice a day?
I don't know how this thing with our cat will pan out, but I have to admit that darn cat is part of the family, and we aren't going to stand by and do nothing.
The incident started me thinking about the place of farm cats on the farmstead totem pole. In a recent Agriculture Online poll, dogs were the run-away winner in the farmer's vote for most useful animal.
Seems like cats earn their keep, don't they? They patrol rodent populations, they bring a certain dignity to the place with their calm demeanor, and they can pretty much fend for themselves. What's a dog do to earn its elevated status? Bark at the moon and chase cars? Yet dogs get to ride in the pickup, appear in seed corn commercials, and maybe even pose in the family Christmas card photo.
By the way, check out that farm animal poll, and you'll see there are some other nominations for our appreciation. There's the horse, of course. But anybody keeping mules? Says one farmer, "If it weren't for the mules we wouldn't be farmin'." Or what about guineas? Great for tick control, as well as eggs, one farmer says.
What animal do you think is most useful around the farm?
Posted by John Walter at 12:47 PM