Last summer, our chickens ran from the hedgerow, cackling in fear of what lurked there. We looked and found a kitty cat, nearly starved, with every bone in his hind end visible. He had been camping out in our upper hay shed, living off the bag of chicken scratch he tore open. Thus, we dubbed him Scratch.
He hid in the corner.
He did not want us near by.
We kept him in the stall, fed him yummy foods, and petted him sweetly (with welding gloves on just on case). For a few days, he was entirely too weak to leave. But eventually he did and retreated to his home base at the machine shed.
He would allow us to pet him occasionally but the submission was not without deep growls and great mistrust. Joy eventually trapped him and took him to the vet. They neutered him, cared for an abscess on his back, and told us he had a temperature of 106° – which, the vet reported, could be deadly if left untreated. Luckily, taking care of the abscess brought him back to health quickly.
The weight returned to him slowly and his affection for us grew with it. Though he was quite grumpy at being taken against his will to the vet, his deep desire for love and cuddles overtook him.
So, after skulking in the shadows for weeks, he finally relaxed enough to eat from our hands and press his face against ours. When winter came, he slept in in our custom made hay bale cave, where he stayed warm, and grew fat and friendly. Scratch now meows us hello, follows us all over the farm, and jumps on to our chests for loving.
With every day a little further from his past abandonment and starvation, he becomes more playful – showing off his balance on the top rail of the fence, climbing up our trees, and batting at stray manure balls. Here at the farm, Scratch has healed and made his new home.