Jellicle cat

Barn cats will have their stories and Merlin has more than his share. He, like so many other Jellicles, found us one day and, rather than continue on his way, decided to stay. We have been glad of it. I’m not sure how many of his proverbial nine lives remain. Surely eight, perhaps fewer. Merlin is a very lucky cat and, if you were to ask him, I think he would agree. He has always gotten along well enough with the other barn cats and has paid scrupulous attention to the established hierarchy. Not too high on the pecking order, Merlin has always been quiet, respectful, and deferential. One afternoon, several years ago now, we noticed a number of cats moving quickly toward the woods. When Joanna arrived at the source of the confusion she found what she describes as a whirl of brown and white which eventually resolved into Merlin trying to extricate himself from the jaws of a Bobcat. When faced with the situation [parallels to which seem to happen often around here, and most recently involved a Grey Fox and one of the hens] Joanna rushed at the melee and shouted, with authority, DROP IT! And the Bobcat obligingly did, and fled. Merlin, still alive, immediately ran for cover. With some effort we extricated him to find the anticipated lacerations and called our veterinarian for advice which was, Bring him in. Upon closer examination it was discovered that the attacker’s teeth had established a good grip on Merlin’s skull and lower jaw. Swift kicks opened Merlin’s underside from stem-to-stern; he was in tough shape. Our very good friend (and large animal veterinarian) Bob knows his stuff and rises to the occasion on especially challenging cases. Two days, as many drains, and dozens of stitches later Merlin was home for an extended recuperation. When he was well he took up residence once more in the horse barn. He likes it there. He’s quite jumpy now and starts at most movement and at unfamiliar noises. I’m afraid he suffers from the feline equivalent of PTSD. Wouldn’t you? Spring has arrived at the farm and all but the very last bits of snow and ice have disappeared. The winter seemed especially long and very cold. We fed round bales of hay to Ari (the horse with whom Merlin shares his digs) this winter and Merlin took quick advantage of the abundance of loose forage. I have never seen a cat build a nest in this way before but build one Merlin did, and it looked to keep him very warm and comfortable. On the coldest of nights he would even pull a blanket of hay across the top of his little niche. Clever, jellicle, fellow is he.


32 thoughts on “Jellicle cat

  1. What a handsome cat. I suspect you’re on target with your diagnosis of feline PTSD. My cat still carries behavioral scars from being carted around by young boys the first four months of her life. She wants nothing to do with being picked up, and only will snuggle once I’m in bed. I presume that my prone position increases her feeling of security, and being in control.

    Have you read Loren Eiseley’s marvelous tale of the Christmas cat? It’s not long, and there’s an online text — here.. It’s a chapter from one of his books, so you may have come across it, but it’s always a good repeat read. I just read it again, and am sure it happened precisely as he describes.

  2. He is a beautiful cat. Does he ever come into the house? I have two almost year old cats (siblings) and they are just so funny. I love them to pieces. I would have been a complete mush pile if I saw the Bobcat at him.

    • Hi Katie. No … Merlin is one of several barn cats. It’s interesting to watch how the lot of them divide up the territories. Merlin inhabits the horse barn. Onyx occupies the big-red-barn. Tolly patrols the garden and horse pastures. Arwen and Nel occupy the front and side porches, while Calvin and Harry spend their time on the back porch and balcony. They are an amazing bunch and we are glad to have them. Thanks for checking in. D

      • That is really interesting … I have two indoor cats and I usually have a hard time getting one into the carrier to get to the vets. I haven’t had to take them lately but I can’t imagine trying to get all of them there.

  3. Beautiful post. It says so much in such a subtle way. Are you folks buried under all the snow that recently hit Halifax? We were almost snow-free but received more over the past few days. Nice and bright again, I guess.

  4. What a treat to see the return of your animal portraits! Glad he let you get close enough to catch his gorgeous green eyes. He was smart to have stayed all those years ago. I remember the story of that bobcat. Joanna was /is brave to confront those wild animals. He was smart to build himself a nest. It’s still cold out there, though the snow drifts are dwindling by the day.

    • Cats can almost always be counted on to find ways of making themselves comfortable. They like warm and dry and will go to great lengths to satisfy those needs. D

  5. Sublime photo! Cats’ photos dominate the internet – but you managed to make this one look really interesting: not the ‘cute and funny’ stereotype, but interesting and a tad enigmatic.

  6. A fine story about a fine cat. They make wonderful companions–“there” but not in your face; suits me just fine. What a lucky break, though, for Merlin, a wonder he lived at all. I suspect he may be down more than one of his lives from that attack but perhaps there are still 5 or 6 left, who knows!

  7. Merlin has all the appearance of a house cat, such a handsome guy. It was good fortune, so to speak, that Joanna was nearby when the attack occurred so he could get such quick and good treatment. One of our fears is that Murphy will be attacked some time and we stand watch whenever we let him out. We have had a few fisher cat attacks in the neighborhood and coyotes roam nearby. He is always on a run, but we still keep an eye on him. He lost most of his teeth a few years ago and despite his aggressive nature is relatively defenseless.
    Here’s hoping for no more bobcat visits.

    • Thanks for checking in Jenny. Yeah … Merlin knows how to make himself comfortable. He’s worked hard as a barn cat and is, I believe, retired now. He’s getting a bit older and sticks very close to the barn and rarely, if ever, goes out at night. D

  8. Oh I love his story! And he is a beauty, as well as has been beautifully photographed. Cats are so awesome. This family is a very big fan of T.S. Eliot!

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