This story is to pay tribute to the animal on the farm that doesn’t exactly make the money, make the city kids swarm with anticipation to pet, or command the most respect from the CEO (the farmer). This small character served a purpose that we always took for granted, but was as equally important in function, as it was in companionship….The Farm Cat.
Throughout the years, there were many…but only a few made the grade. When I say made the grade, I’m not talking about city, lap sitting, purring, get your meal out of a grocery store kitty tin, advertised by a white, fluffy hair cat that eats out of a champagne glass. I’m talking farm cats! Tough. Mean. Hunters with purpose. Darwinian, survival of the fittest! Tom and Jerry on steroids type of stuff.
Farm life is interesting. In all aspects. There is a certain part of it that goes on at night, after you go to bed. Things happen. Crazy things. I can’ t exactly explain…because, well – I was in bed. During the summer nights and without the luxury of air conditioning, the windows were always wide open. My sister and I shared a room when we were younger. We would be laying there, trying to go to sleep when we would hear things. Creepy things. Weird yowling. Hissing. Injury screams – horrendous animal fighting.
As little kids, we would make any excuse in the world to NOT go to bed: I have to go to the bathroom, I need a drink, I’m not tired...or… DAD!!!! Something! SCREAMING! FIGHTING to its DEATH! OUTSIDE MY WINDOW!!!!
Dad would rush in our bedroom, in complete irritation and explain to us not to worry and that it was just the wild tom cats fighting with each other….or if it’s super high-pitched screams with low gurgling undertones, it’s just the raccoons fighting…or maybe a combination of the coons fighting with the cats. GO TO BED!!! Dad would slam the light switch off, close the door with vengeance, and we would be left in dark nothingness – listening.
I’m not sure what goes on in farm cat land after dark, but if I had to assume…these fights were based on the reasons that spark most wars in the world – territory, food and girl cats.
There would be an extended chorus of low-pitched yowling, which I would assume is the equivalent of cat, smack talk. This would go on for a while, and then it was like someone hit a boxing bell and the fight was ON! Contact. I mean, full-on cat fight contact. Cats yelling and screaming, growling, cat punches, claw swats, tail pulling…the fight for life. Mind you, I have never actually seen one of these wild, night fights, but believe me – the sound of tail pulling is vicious!
There are a few champions that come to mind when I think about the tough ol’ farm cats…but there is really only one that held the title. We had a cat on the farm that outlasted and out-hunted most. He was a real fighter – a boxer, a real contender. That cat deserved a name threaded with courage, gut and gristle. But, as young as we were – we settled for the obvious. It was yellow and it was a cat, so that’s what we named it – Yellow Cat.
All of us kids knew that Yellow Cat was wild. He always watched us from a distance, but never came too close. There finally came a time when he came close enough to steal a pet on the head and it was over. The barrier had been crossed, and from that day on, he never left our side. You could not be outside without Yellow Cat trying to get petted, or curl around your leg purring. I swear there was something wrong with that cat’s purring mechanism – it was like there was a megaphone connected to it. As soon as that cat saw you fifteen feet away, you could hear it purr in the distance.
Okay, I know I just described the personality of the cat that eats out of the champagne glass, but make no mistake. Yellow Cat had a dark side and more than nine lives. He was a fighting champ! But being a champ, you have to roll with the punches. Between the raccoons, possums, juiced up farm rats (which were by the way, the size of most lap dogs), skunks, and other wild, tom cats – Yellow Cat took some beatings.
Most mornings, that cat would be limping, bleeding, eyes half-swollen shut, and usually with a bit of pus weeping out of some facial injury. Yellow Cat would always be in a cheerful disposition, looking for a pet, sounded off by his megaphone purring. I’m not sure if there were any cats in Night of the Living Dead, but that is close to what this cat looked like after fight nights. He was hard to look at some mornings, it was all you could do to just pet the thing with one finger, trying not to offend any injury.
Yellow Cat was around for years and was always in the background watching us kids no matter what we were up to on the farm. Whenever we start to reminisce about the old times, and personalities from the farm – Yellow Cat is always part of the conversation.
We’ll always remember Yellow Cat like Rocky – fighting for farm cats everywhere, with ‘Eye of the Tiger’ playing in the background – protecting his territory and ultimately kicking some serious CAT BUTT!