Wednesday, January 21, 2009

James II

I mentioned our first James cat a few posts ago and have run pictures of James III a couple of times, but I haven't told the story of James II who was probably our favorite cat of all the 20+ cats that have lived on this farm with us.

James II, who was just known as James or Jimbo was born in the barn in late summer of 1990. At that time we had 5 house cats and too many barn cats. Siri fell in love with one more cute barn kitten and brought him up to the house. Mom put her foot down at any more house cats and promptly took him back to the barn. Too late. Having had a good look at the house, warm stove, soft bed, etc., James was no longer interested in being a barn cat. Now, a lot of our barn cats don't want anything to do with us. They come up to be fed but don't want to be petted or paid too much attention to. But this little kitten was different. I'd take him to the barn, he'd race me back to the house. Over and over again. He was like a little maple leaf dashing along the path to beat me back to the house. So I gave in. Who's in charge here anyway?

James led a double life. He started going out into the woods to the south of the house onto an old farm now owned by the Nature Conservancy and growing back to brush and trees. And full of rabbits. He would stay out for a week and come back frequently dragging a rabbit as big as himself. He'd be so glad to be in civilization again, he'd lie by the fire, crawl under the covers at night and purr. He'd eat a few kibbles, but always gave me a look as if to say, "Same old stuff, huh?" We were always so glad to see him. "James is back!", someone would call.

Then after a few days he'd start walking back and forth between the house and the woods. And he'd howl. This would go on for hours and then suddenly he was gone again. It was as if the wild wood called to him but he was torn between it and the comforts of the house. But the woods always won out in the end. I followed him once as far as I could go until the brush got too dense for a human to pass. He'd run just ahead of me calling and calling and if I tried to turn back he'd thrown himself in front of my feet and then follow behind me crying pitifully. He wanted me to come with him.

And then one day about 5 years ago he never came back. And we miss him dreadfully. He was so special.


  1. That is the trouble with cats Margaret - they often end up breaking our hearts, especially when we don't know their end. My dear old cat Maxie was run over and left on the road in agony. A friend came upon him and killed him to put him out of his misery - but I still think of him often.

  2. I'm not really a cat person. I'm not even a pet person any more (too sensitive...,) but I loved the way you told that story--reeled me in! 8-D

  3. Well you are much more kind than my own mother, who made me stop at exactly two house cats. I'd still sneak the barn cats in at night, though. My favorite, Bob, I found him abandoned by his mother in a woodpile on our land. He was the size of a baby bat and he bit me so hard when I reached for him that I almost dropped him!

    He would make a nest out of my hair to sleep in at night and I'd tuck him in my shirt every morning to sneak him back out.

    Sadly, he didn't live past two years old, as is the curse of a farm cat adventuring across the road, but I'll never forget climbing trees with my little Bob cat.

    Thank you for the story, it's great to remember your animal friends. :)