Thursday, July 14, 2011

Barn Kitties

I've been grooming a bunch of barn cats recently. Now, when I say "barn cat", I mean the cats that happen to live in a barn. They're social and friendly, they just don't live in a house. I don't mean the cat that's feral and no one ever sees, let alone can touch.

I groomed two of the cats from the farm I work at. Both are short haired kitties. Neither one had been off the farm in years and years. So what do I do? I packed them in a crate, drove them to a strange place in my car and gave them many, many baths. And hand dried them with a high velocity dryer. And clipped their nails, and cleaned their ears. And combed out mats and tangles.

And how did these never-off-the-farm barn kitties react? With purrs and happy eyes! I wish so much that I had gotten pictures. The dramatic change in color and appearance was incredible. Plus, they loved it! Best of all, Princess is no longer miserable on these hot, hot days, and Boo-tiful Kitty is no longer pulling big chunks of hair out. Their owner (my boss!) is thrilled.

She told me, "I hate to spend money on things I don't need, but I believe those cats NEEDED it. I'm really glad I had you groom them."

To be honest, I'd been lusting after the idea of grooming them as long as I've worked there! I was so happy to finally get the opportunity to help those cats feel good and look amazing. I just wish I had pictures!

Sir Fancy Pants
Plucked out of a horse stall, ready for grooming!

This is Sir Fancy Pants. He's a Blue Point Himalayan that just showed up at my in law's barn. He's a very nice cat, reserved, but dignified. He seems very "British" to me, so I asked my husband to help me come up with a name. "Fancy Pants" is a bit too silly for him, but it stuck.

he looks so mean, doesn't he?

To be honest, I spent months laughingly saying he was the ugliest cat I'd ever seen. Then I spent a couple late nights caring for my sick horse. And Sir was a delightful companion. He sat next to me, he allowed me to pet and cuddle him. But he never demanded attention, and seemed to enjoy having someone to sit next to at 1, 3, 5 am. So I thought, maybe if someone groomed him, he wouldn't be so ugly.

Months passed, and he started licking out big chunks of hair. I treated him for fleas, checked him for skin conditions, didn't see cause of the great hair removal.

face is much softer and rounder
now he looks more cuddly and less scary

One day I brought him in, trimmed up his face, gave him a lion clip and a good bath. Reserved Sir Fancy Pants is no longer quite so reserved. Now when he sees people, he jumps up and runs over to say hi. He follows us around. He's not demanding as some cats are, but he wants to be with people and isn't afraid to let you know! This often happens when cats are groomed. Suddenly they seem to want to be part of the family and in the middle of things. Some cats become more playful. It's like when the drab nerdy girl from the movies gets a make over. They look better, they feel better.

still concerned about being "trapped"
but he's already feeling better

Sir was an interesting groom. He Did Not want to be confined. He was panicky when I got too hands on in holding him during grooming. When I clipped, say, his back, he was great. If he laid on his side, he was fine. Just when I had to touch him and hold him in place. So I tried to be as hands off as possible and didn't nit pick his groom to perfection. I only took a few After pictures.

I plan to bring Sir in for a bath soon. His Lion Clip has grown out quite a bit. No more aggressive licking, so I guess he was just bothered by his hair collecting everything in the barn! I think with a few more grooms he'll lose the panic and become comfortable with me handling him during grooming.

The one thing with barn cats is they are generally in the most need of care, but the least likely to receive it. Not many people are willing or able to spend money on vet care and grooming for a cat they probably didn't intend to have (most barn cats are dumped there or similarly acquired), is unlikely to stay at the farm, and is likely to get killed or simply disappear. Unfortunately, barn kitties are probably more likely to contract disease or get injured than house cats. And they have the same grooming needs as any cat, plus the need to remove debris and other junk from their coat. They are also more likely to become aggressive during grooming and more ready to fight about, since their reflexes are more honed than your average house cat.

These couple of barns I groomed recently were all fabulous for their much needed groomings. I'm so happy to have brought out the happier, more outgoing cat that was lurking inside!

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