On our farm all animals and folks had a job and a role. There were no pets—except Semele (our baby brother), when he was young.
Charley, the German police dog was a watchdog and was always chained. His job was to alert us when there were strange people or animals in the area. Cats were for keeping the farm buildings clear of mice and rats.
When I did the evening milking of the gray and black Swiss and the red and white Guernsey, the cats would line up. It was fun squirting milk five feet and hitting Katie. She would open her mouth and when I missed, she would lick her fur. Katie was the only one that got milk. Mama never knew—or let on that she knew. Milk was not to be wasted on a cat—not even Katie.
The only cat that was ever allowed in the house was Katie and only if she had a job to do, or was ready to give birth to one of her many litters. When it came her time, she would stay outside of the kitchen door and meow until Mama let her in.
Katie went right to her spot behind the kitchen stove. Our large Kalamazoo stove was about a foot away from the back wall. This was necessary so that there could be a bend in the stovepipe leading to the chimney flue. Here always was a doubled over Purina feed bag that Mama kept special for Katie and her kittens.
They didn’t stay there long. As soon as the kittens began to walk away, Katie and her litter were put outside to fend for themselves.
The number of kittens that were permitted to exist depended on how many cats were already on the farm. We had as many as seventeen at one time.
As I look back at those times on the farm, they were hard and harsh. How we disposed of the kittens cannot be written here. In those days we had never heard of the ASPCA—only HIAS, WPA, CCC and the distant KKK.
We finally lost Katie one day. She got into a fight with a huge rat and the next morning we found them both. Mama mentioned it once and the subject was never brought up again.There had been a very special relationship between Mama and Katie.