Both of my children are in bed, but no one is sleeping. They are wide awake and giggly. Not my fault.

All of the rodents in the neighborhood are safe, despite my recent adoption of a clearance bin barn cat. Not my fault.

My favorite chair has small white and yellow hairs upon it, that I did not leave there. Not my fault.

Once again, the “Barn Cat” has struck. Like an open ended visit from a distant relative, he comes in to the house only to snoop around, whip the children into a feline induced frenzy of happiness, then settle down on something soft for an undetermined period of time.

But he’s an outside cat, you tell yourself, he might have to go potty! What if you forget he’s inside, and leave the house? Nothing stinks like cat pee in the house. So I’ve heard. He should be in the backyard!

Captain Schenanigans is allergic to cats, and I’m allergic to cleaning poopy stinking litter boxes regularly. Since there were rodents attacking our chicken’s chow last Spring, a barn cat seemed the logical solution. Unfortunately, the model we selected had not actually been test driven. He had been in the box too long, and was starting to turn.

See, Jax’s story is that he was found on the side of the road in NC at about 3 months old, kept in a cage in the shelter, never adopted, then transferred to MD. He was housed at a cat shelter here, where he was the first cat to scale the outdoor enclosure (twice) and escape. He also attacked the other cats when they weren’t looking, and had no social skills. These actions earned him the title “Outdoor Cat” and he was advertised as a barn cat to a cat-free household. Enter us.

The problem with adopting a cat for a job that he was never test driven for was that, much like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Jax started off strong as an amazing hunter. There isn’t a vole left in the whole neighborhood (think mole with a pointier nose), I’d confidently wager. He also has a couple squirrels, a bird, and a pet baby bunny under his belt as kills. He does his job well. Too well.

But socially, there’s another issue. See, Jax is a social barn cat. Meaning, he’d really like it if we’d all just grab our pillows and join him in the barn at night, and then on the back deck for most of the day. Manchild would be the first one to lead the bedding parade across the backyard at dusk to accommodate this request, but the rest of us have our qualms about such notions. They go something like, “nuh uh”. Not gonna happen.

So after much going back and forth about is he or isn’t he a house cat. Will he or won’t he sleep with the children (we test drove that one night and he wanted out at 3:30am). Should we or shouldn’t we put his litter box inside, I decided black and white was too hard. We needed a little bit of gray in this picture, and a touch of flexibility. I decided upon Barn Cat With Benefits. B.C.W.B.

This means visitors hours are from 9a, to 11pm round these parts.  Jax is welcome to come in at any time during those hours, but only between potty breaks. Much like the U.S. Postal Service when you’re in line with a frantic pants pooper (ahem, today with Manchild), there are no bathrooms for you here!

So while it’s sweet and cute when our little outdoor buddy shows up at the bus stop in the mornings to see the kids off to school, having all the kids watch him disappear down a storm drain as the bus comes is pretty gross. Please don’t kiss the cat good-bye. You’ve seen where his lips have been. He leaves it on our doormat. The rest of his isn’t much better.

All the more reason to leave his pollen covered self outside. However, when he shows up crying at dinner, and sits on the window sill looking in like a cross between a creepy blonde elf stalker and an abandoned orphan waif, your sense of compassion unlocks the door before your sinuses and better judgement catch wind of what’s happening here. It just doesn’t seem fair not to let him in!

I’m hoping B.C.W.B is the proper balance for us. While I love the look of a cute creamy kitty curled up on soft places in my living room, if I have to continue to haul your fuzzy yellow arse out of the house to get your job done at night, we’re gonna have words! Kill squirrels & mice, look cute, and visit frequently but quickly. That’s the new job description of a Barn Cat With Benefits. Just check the Employment section of your local paper, it should be listed … 🙂



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