The animals hated the long cold winter. It snowed so many times. Let me tell you right from the beginning, I'm not a cold-weather kind of gal. I like it hot and sunny. You can keep the snow! But this winter it certainly snowed a whole lot!
The two outside cats, Benjamin and Brindle, were C-O-L-D outside. Since we put up heatlamps for the chickens in the coop, we got the bright idea to setup a heatlamp for the outside cats. So the cats got a heatlamp. They sleep on a piece of rug which sits on a wooden bench on the front porch. We aimed the heatlamp on the bench, and they both cuddled up every night under the lamp.
After a few extremely cold and blustery snowy nights, we realized the heatlamp really wasn't helping much. The snow was blowing sideways up onto the cats and soaking their bed and the cats, too. And the thought occurred to me - we DO have an empty guestroom... And these stray cats ARE guests...
And so Ben and Brindle moved inside to the guestroom. I know, I'm a sucker for animals. My husband puts up with me... Just so you know, they both had already been taken to the vet, been dewormed, deflead, deticked, had all their shots, and were fixed. Also they were tested and found to be negative for all feline diseases. Yes, they used to be strays, Brindle even was feral - you can see she has a clipped ear. Any outside cat here has to go thru that routine, and even still, I dare to call them a stray cat. I should just call them an "outside cat", not a stray.
The two formerly "stray" cats absolutely LOVED the guest bed. They loved being inside. They both became extremely friendly, and love to be pet and hugged and held. We never thought that wild Brindle could become such a lovebug. They both even like their bellies rubbed! And most of all, they love stretching out to sleep on the soft guest bed.
Benjamin especially loves to be held on Randy's shoulder. Ben sits up on the bed and begs, stretching his front legs up in the air, waiting to be picked up. Brindle loves to cuddle and then lick us, which is quite annoying when you don't want to be licked, which is, well, always.
We kept Ben and Brindle separate from the inside cats. It was easier that way - no cat fights. The inside cats weren't too fond of the guest cats. So we kept the guestroom door closed at all times. Sometimes Jack, the Houdini cat who can open doors, snuck in to visit. Jack's very accepting and friendly. If only everyone could be as sweet as Jack...
When the cold winter nights passed, we opened the window (the guest room is on the first floor) and Ben and Brindle went back outside. They were so happy to be out again. But it seems they miss their bed. If we open the guest room window again they will come right back inside and curl up on the bed. Randy sometimes sleeps in the guest room during the day when he's working the crazy night shift. When he does, he opens the window, within minutes Ben and Brindle are cuddled up with him on the bed, and they all sleep the day away.
I guess they aren't outdoor cats anymore, they've become indoor-outdoor cats. They both are great farm cats - they love to help us with our outside chores. They always walk us to the barn, stand guard while we work in the chicken coop. Once a chicken escaped out the coop door and Ben stood and watched, helping me to catch it. The chicken was terrified of the cat and just froze, making it easy to catch. Brindle loves to run with the guineas. When I throw bread for the guineas she's right out there with them - she loves to catch pieces of bread and eat it, just like the guineas. Both cats, but especially Brindle, are always mouse and bird hunting. Any little bird that comes near her, and any mouse on the property, will meet it's end if Brindle has her way.
Recently a fox moved into our front yard, of all places, and before that a raccoon was acting very strange, falling over when standing, extremely friendly, etc. When those animals were around at nighttime we ushered Ben and Brindle into the house to keep them safe. I didn't want little Brindle to be fox food, nor did I want either cat to get rabies from a possible infected coon. The cats didn't know what was going on, all they knew was they had access to their beautiful guest bed again, and they loved it and slept soundly all night.
So that's the update on Ben and Brindle, the indoor-outdoor cats. It was a good winter for them. Next up I'll discuss either the chickens or the guineas, and will tell you how they made it thru the long cold winter months.