Empty Nest empty without Barney


Barney has disappeared. It happened on Mother’s Day (wouldn’t you know). Barney has always been my cat, because I’m the one who found and fed him. Cats remember. Barney was a great cat. He would crawl up on my lap and purr and knead to his heart’s content, like he was the happiest cat in the world, which he was. We thought.

He was a young cat, and we only had him (or he had us) for about six months. With Ginnie, he was a little standoffish, breaking her heart because she loved him so much. He was the kind of cat you just wanted to pick up and cuddle.

So, on Mother’s Day, when Barney finally gave in and crawled up on Ginnie’s lap, it was a first. Ginnie had her cat. We had found a couple of ticks on Barney’s pet bed, so we got a tick collar for him, which he didn’t care for one bit and kept trying to get out of. After a day of wearing the tick collar, I noticed he was acting lethargic. I took the tick collar off and could feel some tick dust on his fur.

After church on Mother’s Day, we gave him a bath. He didn’t like that either. But he curled up on his freshly washed pet bed and took a nice long cat nap. It was after the nap, that he crawled up on Ginnie’s lap. We never saw him again. Was he saying goodbye?

Barney always wanted out at night. If we didn’t let him out, he prowled the house yowling. We accommodated, you can be sure of that! In the morning, he was ready to come back in and spend the day sleeping.

Did something get him during the night? Could it have been one of those minks that killed our chickens? I saw a YouTube video of a mink taking down a full grown groundhog, so it’s possible that a mink could have gotten him. Barney was such a fast tree climber that I thought he could escape most anything.

Did he get run over? We live on busy Highway 34, and looked in all the ditches around the house. No Barney. Or did he just run off? I talked to our veterinarian and he said that cats can disappear for months at a time and then return. There’s hope he will come back, and we keep looking for him.

We had Barney neutered, so he wasn’t out looking for a mate. Was he mad at us for the tick collar and bath? Was he sick from the tick collar and crawled off in a culvert to die? We don’t know. We just want our Barney back!

He was a skilled hunter, even snaring full-grown rabbits. He was in the process of eradicating our lawn of moles, chipmunks and any other creepy-crawly thing. He patrolled our barn and garage relentlessly, sometimes leaving his prey on our doorstep as proof of his hard work, like the cleaning lady who leaves the seat up on the toilet and cleanser in the bowl.

We named him Barney because he was going to be our barn cat, but he quickly wormed his way into the big house and our hearts. He’s a gray tiger with a pure white chest, like a nun. If you see him, please send him home. We promise—no more tick collars! We miss our muse, I mean mews cat. Even Buddy misses him! It’s sad, the Empty Nest Farm is down to just Buddy.

We don’t know where he came from, or where he went. Was he sent? Barney come home!

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.

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