We euthanized Minnie this morning.
It wasn’t our original plan, but we made the decision when she showed up after being missing for a few days.
We thought she was gone in the way that barncats go. Quietly and in their own time. But then, there she was again.
In the last month or so Minnie’s territory had shrunk. She spent all her time either in the cat house on the front porch, under the porch or around the garden growing around the porch.
I never saw her go from one place to another and when she didn’t show up for days we were sure she was under the porch dying or already dead. It was one of her safe places.
Minnie has been in our lives for 16 years since she was a kitten. Jon and I went to pick her up together when we were just friends. He already had his barncat Mother, but I suggested he get another, a kitten this time.
In retrospect, I think it was more about me wanting a kitten but not being in a situation where I could have one.
When we moved to the new farm, our barncat Mother disappeared after a week or so, but Minnie survived the move and more.
I’d find rats in the crate we put in the barn for her to sleep in. She’d sit on top of the wooden fence posts surveying the farm for small animals. Soon all the rats were gone and she mostly left the parts of small animals like mice, voles and rabbits by the back door.
I don’t know if Minnie missed Mother, she always seemed to be closer to the chickens. At Old Bedlam Farm she slept in the roosting boxes and she sat next to Jon’s dying rooster Winston for days. Once we moved Minnie often ate with the hens and they loved to roost on the chair next to her on the back porch.
She inspired more than one of my potholders.
Even when we amputated Minnie’s leg after she was attacked by an animal one night, she wanted to go back outside and continued to hunt. When Flo showed up on the farm, they kept their distance for years, but as they both got older, they found warmth and comfort being together.
Even though she was still around, I’ve been missing Minnie ever since she moved off the back porch this summer. I was so used to seeing her there, sitting on one of the chairs, waiting by the door in the morning, then slinking away so the dogs could come out.
She always had a few short scratchy meows for me and I always answered her with a “Good morning Minnie” or the Minnie song I made up for her.
When Minnie came back after being gone, Jon and I decided it was time to help her along. It wasn’t just about Minnie, It had become difficult not knowing what to expect when I came out in the morning to see her.
Minnie stopped eating two weeks ago and drank very little water. It was just a matter of time.
Jon and I took Minnie to our Vet this morning, where they know her very well and are very kind. As we waited for the doctor, Jon held Minnie’s head scratching her ears and she fell asleep. I wasn’t surprised even though I can’t remember Jon ever petting Minnie much. But he has a calming way about him and loving hands. Small animals and babies fall asleep easily in his arms.
We buried Minnie in the back porch garden, where she spent so much time, and planted one of the perennials from Jon’s garden on top of her.
I am sad and I will miss Minnie. She was a constant on the farm, a big presence for a small animal. She never stopped talking to us even today as I picked her up and brought her to the car this morning, she gave a quiet scratchy meow. Except for Fanny and Lulu, Minnie has been on the farm with Jon and me longer than any other animal.
But as sad as I am that she is gone, the farm feels lighter now. Like things are once again the way they should be. And Minnie, even though she is no longer here, is a part of that.