For all my friends out there who choose to read this blog, most of you know about our cat Barney. For those who do not, please let me introduce you. Casting your eyes to the right, you will see what I mean when I call him Barney the Blob.
Barney came to us in my son Mark's pocket about 5 yrs. ago. He found him on top of a tire at our oldest son's house. He was covered with fleas and I mean covered, as well as with oil. He was very small and was starving.
A barn was nearby our son's home and we figured that Barney had wandered into Mike's yard and climbed on top of a tire. Mark came along and found him and brought him home to me saying, "Look what I found, Mom!"
Mark knows I'm a soft touch when it comes to babies of any kind. That poor little creature immediately got a bath in the kitchen sink twice with Dawn dishwashing liquid to cut the oil. It took a while to get rid of all the fleas, but we did eventually. He looked like one drowned rat and was so scrawny that I didn't know if he was going to make it or not.
The week prior to Barney's arrival at our home, I had found another 6 week old female kitten in a parking lot in Hot Springs. I hadn't yet named her, so when a little male kitty came along of the same age, I knew I had to name them a famous couples name. Well Barney was found in a barn, so Barney came to my mind immediately for him. Her name was quickly found when I got to thinking of a famous couple's name that included Barney. Barney and Betty Rubble from the Flintstones seemed very logical to me because they both came from the Rubble.
To watch those two kittens play together after they got over the first initial 5 minute humping of backs, was more hilarious than a circus act. The best description for Barney was gawky. His ears was huge and they didn't seem to fit his smaller head and skinny body with long legs. Betty was more compact and "together", like a lady should be.
When they were approximately 6 mos. old Betty ran in front of the car as my son drove very slowly down the road by our house, committing suicide. Exit Betty - maybe Barney was too much for her to handle. Barney seemed lost a bit at first. But to be honest, he became a much better cat. Prior to Betty's death he had been very stand offish and wouldn't have much to do with us. But once he was alone, even though he didn't become a "lap cat", he wanted his lovin' (when he wanted it) and one other thing...food...all the time.
When I say "all the time" I'm sure you think I exaggerate. I beg to differ. He would eat constantly if we would be willing to feed him constantly. If you doubt me, look again at the picture. He has weighed 17 pounds for some time now. He seems to be holding there, so I think he's finally attained his adult size.
Barney is a Maine Coone breed of cat. They are not a normal sized cat - they are huge. They are gentle giants. His paws are larger than some dog paws. Lifting him, he seems to weigh much more because he cannot be bothered to help you - he's all dead weight! In addition he is very fluffy which gives him the appearance of being even bigger.
Maine Coone cats are very kittenish in their personality until about the age of 5 years old, according to my research. They are considered the dog of cats and they like being with their owners and will follow them around wherever they go. Barney follows the profile to a T so far. He would follow Bill out to the end of our long driveway in Arkansas everyday when he went to get the mail. And then they would play hide and seek on the way back to the house, with Bill hiding behind a tree and Barney stalking him. Here in the campground when Bill walks our Sheltie puppy Jack, you can see Barney tagging along and it doesn't matter where they go. Somedays Bill walks all over this park and the trio draws attention wherever they are.
Everyone (so far) loves Barney because he's so hilarious. They all comment on the fact that he and Jack wrestle in the dust and put on the local sideshow every evening. Barney will just lay there and allow Jack to walk up and chew on his ears and even try to put Barney's whole head in his mouth. And Barney just lays there... then he attacks Jack and the wrestling match begins!
Barney likes dogs, which in itself is weird when you're a cat. He's had his front claws removed and so I have some concern for him, but so far it has not cramped his style. I've had other declawed cats that have chased dogs out of the yard, slapping them all the way and the dog running away yelping. The dog has no idea that the cat has no claws - he just thinks he's getting hurt! Barney goes up to all the trees and scratches them as if his claws itch, but he's actually marking his territory.
But Barney doesn't chase dogs away. Rather, he walks right up to them and rubs up against them or kisses noses. I have only seen one exception to this and that was 2 days ago when he met the Great Dane "puppy", Brutus who stands 4 ft. tall. Even Fat Cat Barney was overwhelmed! I guess everyone meets their match at some time or other in life, wouldn't you say?
Barney has one little quirk that actually annoys me very much. He likes snakes. Not only does he like snakes, he brings them to us as a gift - on a regular basis. Or at least I should say he used to bring us snakes when we lived in Arkansas.
Being an indoors person I never really realized until this past year just how bad his affinity for snakes is. My first experience with Barney and snakes was last spring of 2009 when we had moved back to Arkansas for 13 mos. I walked into my living room and found a 4 ft. long jet black chicken snake (some people call them indigo snakes) lying coiled up beside my coffee table in the living room and Barney was laying beside it. Now you know that cat didn't coil that snake - the snake did it himself, meaning it was alive! When I walked into the living room and saw it, needless to say I screamed bloody murder and nearly jumped over the stair railing that lead downstairs. Barney's attitude was "See what I brought you mom?" Thanks Barney!
The snake was very much alive, but playing dead by not moving, hoping Barney would go away. When Bill heard me scream he came in and caught the snake (while I stood on a chair), held it up and it was almost as long as he is tall - it was all of 4 ft. long. Barney accessed the house by coming through a propped open door to our screened porch. Needless to say that door stayed closed from then on!
While we were moving back to Texas we were in and out constantly, taking things to the yard to be auctioned off. Barney brought us a snake everyday for 6 days in a row - all different snakes, not the same one and all alive and non poisonous. He wanted to play with them. After we left Barney for a month with the people who leased our house, they told us that Barney brought at least 3 more snakes up for them to admire.
So as you can see, Barney's a bit different from most cats. He makes us laugh so much that he's worth all the food he eats. He's actually no trouble except during the middle of the night when he wants to lay between my legs or on top of Bill's head. Or when we make a bathroom run during the middle of the night Barney jumps up off the bed and runs to the kitchen, meowing with his little sing-song voice, begging to be fed. He does have one little trait that as hard as we try we can't help but laugh at. In the early morning when we're sound asleep and Barney's ready to get up (and be fed), if we don't get up he goes to Bill's bedside table and starts knocking things onto the floor, making noise.
So our days begin with our two little alarm clocks, Barney and Jack. So much for being retired and sleeping in, huh? But we don't mind because we believe the research. Those who have pets usually live longer. I can see why...laughter doeth good like a medicine and Barney and Jack are good medicine for us old folks! Come on Jack, let's Hit the Road!