altLike many of you, we have a couple of cats hanging around to help keep mice and other pests under control. Because these cats are mean to other cats, and each other, we don’t have any strays staying around long either. They are a couple of tough cookies.

Our tactical squad of elite feline warriors, however, is getting older. The oldest cat, Boo, dubbed the “Huntress,” was very prolific in her prey-taking skills in her younger days. She spends most of her time in the garage now, especially in the winter months, or sunning on the porch. At nearly 15, she’s earned her rest.

The other commando cat is nearly 13, has been feral for most of her life, and she’s a fighter. Skylee has battle scars, smells to high heaven, is missing fur here and there, and is not a fan of most people. Of those she does like, she tolerates limited doses of attention. It’s not unusual to see her coming through the pasture with a mouse, lizard or mole in her mouth, growling at anything she passes, including people, as she goes to finish off her dinner.

One recent cold morning, Skylee was on the deck; she didn’t feel well. She hadn’t been herself for a while, but she wouldn’t let me touch her. This day, however, she was ready for help. I grabbed some towels (remember, she’s a fighter), wrapped her up and brought her inside. Skylee was cold, muddy, battered and exhausted. Seeing her so frail broke my heart. For the first time in her life, she allowed me to hold her.

I wasn’t sure if she was going to make it. An attempt to get her into a vehicle for a trip to the vet proved to be a fiasco, but I managed to recapture her later that day.

She slept for hours wrapped up near the woodstove after I got some meds into her. We were prepared to find her deceased the next day in the bed I made for her in the mudroom, but Skylee was full of surprises.

She destroyed a blind on the back door, knocked things off of the cabinet, drug rugs across the room and clawed the door. The commotion made the dog a nervous wreck most of the night. Skylee wanted outside – and that’s where she went as soon as the door opened. I didn’t think I’d see her again, but she was on the deck that evening wanting to come inside.

She wouldn’t eat for several days, but we’ve got a system now, which usually means she bites my finger when she’s hungry. Skylee is looking better since that cold morning. Her favorite place in the evening is in my husband’s lap or sitting on the arm of his recliner. The dog isn’t too happy about the situation and walks a wide berth around Skylee. The wild-child cat tried to curl up with the dog, which lasted about five minutes before the dog abandoned her spot.

We’ve tried to take Skylee to the vet another time or two, but the fighting side comes back out, so she’s still got some life in her.

The blinds have been replaced with curtains that I put back up almost daily, but we’re making progress. She still wants outside most mornings and is waiting on the deck when I get home. She is beginning to think life isn’t too bad inside, and I have decided she will have a warm place to sleep in the house for the remainder of her golden years.

The story of an old, cranky, stinky cat may not appeal to some, but all life is precious on the farm. Even the life of an old, cranky, smelly cat has merit.

As farmers and ranchers, we do what we can to preserve the life of the animals in our care, or let life come to an end when nothing else can be done.

Like the iconic “So God Made a Farmer” speech delivered by Paul Harvey states, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ …So God made a farmer.”

“…I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadowlark… So God made a farmer.”

I’m glad he did.

Julie

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at editor@ozarksfn.com.

Julie Turner-CrawfordEditorial / Opinionscat,Julie Turner-Crawford,sickly kitty,SkyleeLike many of you, we have a couple of cats hanging around to help keep mice and other pests under control. Because these cats are mean to other cats, and each other, we don’t have any strays staying around long either. They are a couple of tough cookies. Our...The Ozarks' most read farm newspaper, reaching more than 58,000 readers in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma