the untimely demise of a kitten named Butterball

I never liked cats. Not really. They seemed… well, gross. All their licking and hair and eating dead rodents.

But then we started milking cows and a half grown kitten showed up. My husband called her Gray but I dubbed her KitKat and “accidently” spilled extra milk while feeding the calves.

She was pretty. Stayed at a distance. And came running when I called her to get her milk. Kind of like a dog that doesn’t lick.

Then six months later, our “kitten” had three little babies. They looked, amazingly, like tiny rodents squirreling around in the hay by the calves. I quickly rescued them before they drowned in slobber (the calves start producing saliva at the very sight of me).

KitKat appeared and hid her babies away. She seemed a bit offended that I had touched them and no matter how many times I followed her- she would not let me know their whereabouts.

One day my husband came into the house. “Found a kitten,” he said, “Whining in the rain by the shop. I put her in the barn.”

No wonder I hadn’t found them! She had escaped the barn all together and moved across the driveway to the less trafficked shop.

I went out to the barn and found the tiniest little gray kitten curled up on our newest jersey calf. I snuggled her and, for a few minutes, didn’t mind cats quite so much.

I went on a hunt at the shop and located two more little tigers. A black one and a gray/white one. I picked them up and laughed. The black one was a bit bigger than our gray runt but the gray/white one was as round as could be.

I dubbed her Butterball.

Within three weeks the gray runt and the black kitten had met their end. One under the foot of a cow, the other under the belly of a calf. Butterball, however, stuck around.

In fact, over time, she got quite annoying.

I was quickly remembering why I disliked cats.

This morning was like most mornings. I tripped over her coming out of the milk house. I told her shush when she meowed at me because the first bucket I brought out had wash water instead of milk.

She followed right on my heels as I moved milkers.

Then, when my husband came to help she latched on his leg to climb to his shoulder. He yelped. Claws got him on his knee.

She jumped from his shoulder to mine and immediately began trying to get her head under my hat.

I tossed her down and got pails of milk for the calves. She nearly jumped out of her skin in excitement and trotted off toward the other end of the barn. I followed her.

When I left the barn she was happily licking up the milk from the bucket she had tipped over.

This evening, however, I noticed she wasn’t there when I started milking. In fact, she didn’t show up through all of milking.

My husband shook his head. “Probably went out of the barn and got hit by a car.”

It was sad.

I kind of missed that little bugger.

I was walking toward the milk house, contemplating an interesting facebook status update about the death of my kitten, when something latched onto my leg.

I still don’t like cats. Not really. They’re quite gross. I mean, her feet were cold and wet on my neck. Do you realize all the places she might have been? Ilck.

But I kissed her nose anyway.

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