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Sparkles the Adventure Cat

02/24/2014 @ 8:21am

The hawk glared imperiously from his high perch on the barn rafter, his telescopic eyes focused upon the furry critter below. The tiniest whisker twitch was observed and analyzed. Razor talons dug into the wood as anticipation rose in the raptor’s throat.

Sparkles hunkered down on the loose straw, trying to blend in. She peered up at the hawk, bobbing her head slightly to get a precise three-dimensional fix on the fearsome bird of prey. She reckoned that the two of them were about evenly matched. Hanging in the air was a question: at the end of this confrontation, who would eat whom?

And so began another day in the life of Sparkles The Adventure Cat!

Our farm had been catless until last summer, when we adopted a kitten named Sparkles from a nearby dairy. Our hope was that she would grow up to be a barn cat; a merciless mouse murderer and a skilled sparrow assassin. We later learned that Sparkles is actually a hybrid.

Specifically, she is part barn cat and part house cat. The house cat part came to light when our winter weather turned deeply cold. My wife, full of sympathy for the cute kitty, began to let Sparkles spend nights in our basement.

I tried to veto this arrangement. But it’s difficult to make a case against a creature who, like me, is furry and tends to shed and whose major goal in life is finding a warm place to nap.

It quickly became apparent that Sparkles had larger plans. If we aren’t careful when letting her into the basement, the cat will zip into the house and commence to sizing things up. You can tell by her expression that Sparkles is thinking, “That couch looks pretty comfy! I bet I could lie on that quilt and help you watch TV! And you aren’t using that whole bed, are you? I could ball up in that area between the pillows and flick my tail in your faces while you sleep!”

So we have to draw the line and banish her to the basement. Plus if she isn’t outdoors, she isn’t having any cat adventures.

Sandy, our golden retriever, and Sparkles always accompany me on my walks, even though I have never invited them along. Oftentimes the dog will abruptly begin to dig excitedly in a roadside snowdrift. He is no doubt excavating a mouse or perhaps a vole, which is the scientific term for a vain mole. The cat will loiter nearby, watching with feigned disinterest.

It’s pretty easy to see what’s going on with those two: Sandy is Labor and Sparkles is Management.

One recent frigid winter morning, I discovered that our cattle fountain had frozen. I hustled down to the fountain with a teakettle of hot water to unthaw things. Sparkles took a perch atop a nearby fencepost so she could superintend, fulfilling her role of Management.

Mission accomplished, I began making my way back to the house. One of our Jersey steers, upon noticing that a cat was occupying the top of a post, lumbered over to investigate. After sniffing Sparkles experimentally, the steer decided to see how she tasted. His fat, slobbery tongue nearly lifted Sparkles off the post. Her carefully tended coiffure was ruined!

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