Kitteh contest: Ebony, Barney, Bibiana, and Baily

August 9, 2011 • 3:31 am

In March, reader Linda Grilli Calhoun sent us a largesse of kittehs: four of them, all from a single litter, and all black. Linda raises goats, and the cats get their milk.

I got these kittens at five weeks old.  They were orphaned at ten days, and bottle-raised on goat milk from my dairy.  This photo was taken at six months old. They arranged themselves on my tack box one morning while I was milking, and stayed in this position long enough for my husband to get a camera and catch them sitting there.  I think the odds of trying to pose them like this are roughly the same as winning the lottery.

They are now eleven months old, and bring a dollop of joy to every day.

Left to right:  Barney, Bibiana, Ebony, Bailey.  “The Fearsome Foursome” [JAC:  all but Barney are female]

At my request, she added a bit more information and a few recent pictures:

They were a year old 06/01/2011.

The girls have all done very well.  Barney had a brush with death the first week in June, but he survived and recovered, thanks to one of my vets who jumped in and saved him.  He brought in a dead baby squirrel, and a few days later came down with tularemia – fever, vomiting, dehydration.  Fortunately we got it before it spread to his lungs.  He spent a night in the clinic, and then had to be isolated for a week here before he was allowed back in with his sisters.  He lost a bunch of weight, but has gained it back, and then some.  It was pretty scary.

The Fearsome Foursome are, of course, loving being dairy cats.  They get milk on their crackers every day, and always want more.  My husband put in a cat door between the heated and unheated areas of the barn, so they are able to come in and get warm whenever they want.

Here they are getting their goat milk and “crackers”:

Linda also sent a picture of one of her goats, a very short-eared type called the LaMancha breed. She has 31 of them, and their relationship with the Fearsome Foursome is amiable:

My market is primarily animal consumption.  I sell milk to a grade A dairy for them to feed to their kids instead of replacer so that they can use their milk for product.  There are also a couple of local zoos that use my milk to feed orphans.  The local vets have my number, too, so if something is orphaned or rejected I can supply milk for those babies.

My kids are all hand-raised.  They don’t nurse their dams, but are fed pasteurized milk out of feeder buckets.  This makes them very tame and tractable and easy to work with, so that if you go up to the fence they will all come running.  They know their names, too.  If I go to the gate and call, the right one comes.

The goats and the cats get along with each other pretty well.  I told you about my cat that lived to be 23 years old.  She was completely bonded with the goats.  She would sit with them in the kidding pens when they were in labor, and more than once I mistook her for a newborn kid.  Once I came home on a cold November day to find two of my milkers in the yard lying back-to-back with the cat lying on top of them.  All three were sound asleep.


13 thoughts on “Kitteh contest: Ebony, Barney, Bibiana, and Baily

  1. That’s a cute Lamancha. My wife used to raise goats but never owned any of that breed. I’ve been to enough goat shows to know that they are a pretty good breed. Much calmer than the other breeds especially when compared to Nubians. The calmness is kinda unnerving because they have a tendency to stare a lot. Something about the lack of ears and the silent staring is just creepy.

    1. One of my favorite comments came out of the LaMancha club newsletter. She said that the first time she saw them, she said to herself, “My god, they look like lizards!”

      The calmness is wonderful. I started out in Nubians, and sold them off in 1999. The first year I went through kidding season with just the LaManchas, I couldn’t believe how much easier it was. They are very smart, too. Nubians are pretty to look at, but I finally got burned out on noisy and stupid. (Kinda like Christers?) L

  2. You have totally charmed a cat lover with your story, and I could learn a thing or two about goats which I did reading your post. The cats’ photos are so striking as kittens and against the hay. They look very healthy, too and well-loved!


  3. Nice happy farm kittehs. I love it. Congrats!

    I’m glad Barney is still with us. I’ll have to pay more attention to my kittehs chasing squirrels around in the back yard. But they’re not actually interested in catching them, just the chasing part.

    1. I’m not totally sure, but I think tularemia is nearly always fatal, so if the squirrels are moving and acting normally, they’re probably not sick or contagious.

      I had seen that baby squirrel around a couple of days before it died, and it was not acting normally. Bibiana almost took a chunk out if it while it was still alive because it was not acting afraid and came right up to her. I grabbed her before she touched it, so she never got sick.

      I was contacted by the health department after my vet made the diagnosis (it’s required by law to report tularemia, plague, and rabies). They were completely unhelpful, and basically told me to “keep them from hunting”. They also told me that if I found another dead squirrel or a dead rabbit to bag it and call them, but so far the one that Barney got was the only one we’ve seen.

      We have had major dieoffs of rabbits in the past from tularemia, but not for quite awhile. The last time it happened, it took about three years for the population to recover. L

      1. Interesting to know. What part of the world do you live in?

        Keeshu will brag all day long, if you let her, about how she smacked a grackle once. It was during one of our many rounds of West Nile and it wasn’t behaving normally. Keeshu did make a near 6-foot leap to get it, though. The Spousal Unit brought her inside right away. The grackle recovered in a few minutes and flew away.

        Out kittehs have a tacit agreement with the squirrels. Squirrel slows down; cat slows down. Even young Merlyn will wait patiently while they get their peanut before beginning the chase.

        1. I live in NM, in the mountains east and south of ABQ.

          We’ve had West Nile here, too, but it has slowed in the last couple of years. I keep mosquito donuts in the water tanks.

          We’ve also had hantavirus in NM, but most of that is in the northwest part of the state. L

  4. That is quite a coven of Basement Cat minions! Add in the goats and you have a full on evil cabal 🙂

    Cute cats…now if only someone has a litter of Ceiling Cat minions…

    1. There’s not a “boss” per se, but Bailey is the spokeskitteh. She’s AKA “Miss Verbal”. She was the first one out of the bathroom when they were babies, she was the first one to figure out the cat door, and she was the first one to be brave enough to go outside. They share food easily; I feed them all in one large bowl, as you can see in the picture.

      They’re easy to tell apart. Barney and Bailey are long-haired. Barney at this point is very long and lean, although I’m sure he’ll fill out as he matures. He also has gray tufts of hair behind his ears. Bailey is more round and plump, with no gray at all.

      Ebony and Bibiana are short-haired. They have really different faces, and Bibiana has a white bib in the front, which is visible in the pictures if you look closely. L

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