Black, Gray and Sometimes Lavender
A farm just wouldn’t be complete without some cats to whimsically dot the landscape. Our three cats Salem, Gemini and Sabrina foot the bill by adding plenty of personality and charm to the Lewis Oliver Farm. But unlike most barn cats who must patrol their barns and chase mice away to earn their keep, our cats enjoy the luxuries of fleeced beds, catnip laced toys and scheduled mealtimes.
Gemini, our gray cat, came to the farm about five years ago when her owner was no longer able to care for her. While our two black cats, Salem and her sister Sabrina arrived almost three years ago after being rescued from a feral colony. Sadly, at just 10 months of age, both had already given birth to their own litter of kittens. Luckily, Salem and Sabrina were rescued in time to be socialized by humans to break them of their feral roots. They were also spayed, vaccinated and given a clean bill of health before they made their way to the Lewis Oliver Farm.
Anyone who frequents the farm knows and loves Salem. She’s the resident welcome committee often found sitting on the farm stand or following people around while they visit the other animals. Weighing just over 6 lbs., Salem packs more personality than Annabelle the cow and Tiny the pig combined and more spunk than our entire herd of goats.
Salem is by far our most adventurous and daring feline often seen scaling heights as high and as precarious as the barn’s cupola. She hangs out in the most unlikely places including Tiny’s pen and inside the main barn where she mingles with animals several times her strength and size. She can be found most mornings and early evenings keeping tabs on our volunteer feeders as they make their rounds.
Salem is as feisty as she is sweet. She will expertly lure you in with her affection and cuteness when suddenly, with no apparent warning and with a lightening-fast diminutive paw, she will swat the hand that pets her. We don’t know why she does this but we suspect she may have a bit of a Napoleon complex.
Color Me Gray
Everything about Gemini is gray. Her coat, the pads of her feet, her nose and even her lips are all the same lovely, steely shade of gray. In fact, she’s so smokey that in certain lighting she seems to give off a lavender hue.
When Gemini first arrived at the farm, she had a rough time transitioning to her new surroundings. At the time, we had just one other cat, our beloved “Dusty” who wasn’t too welcoming toward her at first. As a result, Gemini spent the first couple of weeks hiding up behind the ceiling panels in the office. We tried keeping her inside until she became more comfortable in her new environment but inevitably, despite our efforts, she escaped through the front door and into the surrounding neighborhood where she remained lost for the next month. We searched high and low, posted signs and asked the neighboring homes to keep an eye out for her. There were a few suspected sightings but other than that, Gemini remained at lodge.
Just when we thought we’d never see her again, an exhausted and terribly skinny Gemini walked right up to one of our volunteers who was there feeding the animals one morning, brushed up against her leg and let out a desperate, weary “meow”. She devoured two cans of cat food which were promptly placed in front of her and then nudged and purred at us in thanks. From that moment on, Gemini stayed close to the farm and within our sight and care. For the next few weeks, she still refused to come inside where we tried to lure her with a warm cat bed and plenty of food and water. We patiently let Gemini set the pace by caring for her under her own terms and conditions which entailed making her as comfortable as possible under one of the trailer beds on the property which she chose to live under.
Gemini eventually gained more confidence and made her way back inside for mealtimes where she gradually started spending more and more time. Now, when she’s not exploring the wood pile across the street from the farm or sitting on the front porch, Gemini can be found sleeping in her favorite bed inside the office or sitting on the desk looking for Bill to feed her some cat treats.
Gemini can still be a bit leery around people and like most animals, needs to be given space and to be approached on her terms. Once you’ve earned her trust , she will approach you and affectionately weave herself through your legs and serenade you with her high-pitched, sweet “mews”. If you crouch down to her level, she’ll climb right into your lap where she’ll stay for as long as you’re willing to stroke her beautiful gray coat and tell her what a pretty girl she is. .
Sabrina has a nervous energy that often sends her running at the mere sight of a stranger approaching her space. At times she seems afraid of her own shadow and spends many of her days hiding up in the loft above the bunny room. Like Gemini, when she first arrived at the farm, Sabrina made her way outside too soon and went missing. Unlike Gemini, it lasted only about a week and fortunately we spotted her a few times in between so we knew she was relatively safe and not too far from the farm. When she was ready, she made her way back inside.
Like her sister Salem, Sabrina is all black. It’s often hard to tell the two of them apart but despite their nearly identical faces, when standing side by side, Sabrina is clearly the bigger of the two. Sabrina spent her first year at the farm up in the loft and would only come downstairs at the beckoning of our volunteers whose familiar voices would coax her out for breakfast and dinner.
While still skittish around strangers, she has come a long way since her early days at the farm where visitors can now spot her rolling around on the back patio or milling about in the bunny room. For those of us who know her best, she is quite possibly the sweetest of our three cats. Nothing makes her happier than being pet and brushed by our volunteers. She gets so overcome with joy that she will repeatedly rear up on her hind legs like a horse, then briefly dart away before coming back for more love. It’s amusing to see her do the “horsie” with her plump body suspended in the air supported only by her tiny, delicate star-shaped feet which have earned her the nickname “Twinkle Toes”.
If you’re lucky, perhaps the next time you’re at the farm you’ll get to meet Salem, Gemini and Sabrina. After all, when is the last time you got swatted by a friendly but fresh little cat, or had a lavender one sit on your lap or seen a chubby black cat do ‘the horsie’?