Today was going to be one hell of a morning. A morning of promise and surprise. I just couldn’t wait to see the look on Keeko’s face when he saw what we had in store for him.
The night before, Antonio and I had picked up another cat named Spot from our friend Remy and her husband Peter. Keeko had also been given to us by Remy and Peter about three months earlier.
Keeko had been seeming pretty lonely these days. During feeding time, he’d try to brush up against my leg or arm, but it was hard for me to stand around petting him when I had to attend to a bunch of hungry sheep.
Keeko eventually started rubbing up on anything just to get some physical affection (albeit one-way affection). When it got to the point where that anything was a cardboard box, I knew it was time that we got Keeko a friend.
But Spot was actually more than just a friend — he was Keeko’s brother. Spot was slightly older, having come from their parents’ first litter. We didn’t know if they’d remember each other, but perhaps they would find an instant connection through their familial bond.
When I arrived at Remy’s apartment, there was a bevy of cats strolling around, all different patterns of black and white. The father cat was an impressively sizeable feline named Marvin who had claimed the coffee table as his throne.
Spot — named so after the distinctive black spot above his mouth — was sniffing around near my bag that I had dropped off by the door. He was sleek, mostly black on top with a white mouth and belly, and had soft, shining yellow eyes.
I told Remy and Peter that Keeko had been seeming like he needed a pal these days. But Peter warned me that things might not go as planned.
“If they start fighting when they see each other, just let them at it,” Peter advised. “And if you have to touch them, use your foot. Bend over and they’ll tear your face up.”
“Ha … ha,” I cringed.
Antonio and his partner Samantha soon arrived at the apartment with the cage for transporting Spot. Remy tucked Spot inside it along with his towel, and she and Peter said their last good-byes.
“We’ll miss you, Spot!” she told him. “But you’ll be okay.”
On the way to the farm, Spot was quiet for the entire ride. I wondered if he had been lulled to sleep by the steady motion of the car or if he was silently plotting his escape.
But when we arrived at the tiny home trailer and I peeked into his cage, Spot was exactly as he had been when we left Remy’s — sitting at the end of the cage, staring at me quietly.
“Good job, Spot,” I said.
Spot had a calm, stoic demeanour about him. Something I didn’t see much in Keeko, to be honest.
“I think you’re going to be alpha,” I predicted, nodding at Spot.
Spot silently stared back.
And with that, I placed Spot’s cage near my bedroom, wished him a good night and turned off the lights.
Reunion of the Cat Brothers
Now that it was morning, Spot could finally meet Keeko. I found Keeko roaming around the sheep barn and picked him up.
“Come on, Keeko,” I said. “We brought you a friend!”
Keeko knew something was up just from the fact that I never carried him around anywhere.
I brought him over to the tiny home trailer and dropped him off inside the front porch.
“Wait here,” I told him, as I ducked inside to grab Spot.
I felt like I was in a Jerry Springer show for cats where I was about to facilitate a long-lost brother reunion.
Just in case though, I would leave Spot in the cage. It might have to be a slow, gradual reintroduction since they hadn’t seen each other in a long time.
Plus, I hadn’t had my coffee yet. And if history was any indication, some crazy adventure was probably going to come out of this.
I came back out and set down the cage ceremoniously.
“Keeko, meet your brother Spot!” I said excitedly.
Keeko instantly moved towards the cage, intrigued. But the last thing he looked was excited.
As he stared into the cage, his fur started to stand on edge and it almost appeared as though he was shaking. Then he began to let out an eerie, bone-chilling meow.
This was not looking good.
“Keeko, relax,” I said nervously.
But Keeko was in a trance, continuing to meow like the Cat Exorcist had overtaken his senses. That was it. I decided to remove him from the premises and bring Spot back inside. I’d have my coffee and try again later.
Antonio came by for the morning and I relayed how the first meeting had gone with the long-lost brothers.
“Maybe Keeko’s just curious,” he said.
“Yeah, I don’t know,” I replied doubtfully, as the haunting meow echoed through my ears.
It was time to feed the sheep, so I brought Spot in his cage over to the barn and placed it on a wooden rise so he could have a view of his new farm animal buds. I even opened the door and set out some food for him nearby.
“It’s warm in here,” I informed Spot.
Spot quietly stared at me from the back of the cage, not budging an inch.
Every so often, a sheep would let out a baa and Clyde would come running over, peering into the cage at who he hoped would be his new feline friend.
I imagined that Spot was wondering which parallel universe he had been teleported to and when he’d be able to return to his home planet.
Antonio and I got to work feeding the sheep and after he left for his lunch break, I decided to bring Keeko over to Spot’s cage before heading in to eat myself. Just to see where we were at in the reunion process.
Maybe Keeko was just curious. After all, he hadn’t seen another animal that looked like him in a while.
But as soon as I set Keeko down in front of the cage, he strolled straight inside it and went for the kill. Fierce meowing rang out and the cage shook violently as Keeko and Spot tussled inside.
“Keeko!” I yelled.
I grabbed him by the tail and as I yanked him out, the cage went tumbling over onto the hay, with Spot still inside.
Keeko circled the cage, letting out that awful haunting meow that made me want to cover my ears.
Spot was partly sideways inside, still as a stone, emitting a low, unrelenting growl. When Keeko got too close, Spot would bear his fangs and hiss.
“Keeko, enough,” I demanded. “You’re being a very bad host!”
But Keeko was on a mission to defend his honour. He was Cat of the Farm and would not be shown up in front of the sheep by this unworthy intruder.
Finally, after watching Keeko repeatedly do his song and dance around the cage, I had enough. I picked up the cage and marched Spot out of the barn, leaving Keeko behind.
“It’s okay, Spot,” I reassured him, trudging through the snow towards our tiny home trailer. “You’ll be okay.”
Except, I didn’t really know if he would be.
This reunion was going to be a lot tougher than I had imagined. Maybe, as with most things, it was just going to take some time for Keeko to come around.
A Whole New Cat World
The next morning, I gave Antonio an update on the cat saga.
“We have to get Spot out of the cage and acclimatizing to the farm,” I said. “Otherwise, he doesn’t stand a chance against Keeko.”
Antonio agreed and we decided to rip off the bandage.
This time, I brought Spot onto the second floor of the barn where all the hay was kept. Keeko’s main territory was downstairs with the sheep, but here, Spot would hopefully have enough peace to get more acquainted with his new home.
I opened the cage door and told Spot that he was going to have to man up today.
Spot was holding onto the cage for dear life, but succumbed to gravity when I tipped the cage vertically. He fell out and paused to take in his new, hay-filled surroundings.
“A whole new wooorld,” Antonio sang in the background.
I laughed as Spot took his first hesitant steps.
“A new fantastic point of view! No one to tell us no or where to go!”
Antonio continued on, then switched into what he imagined would be Spot’s deep baritone voice to sing the lead-in to the second verse: “Now I’m in a whole new world with yooou!!”
I was almost in tears, but Spot was not laughing. He was in survival mode and was now hiding in a nook between some hay stacks.
“Aw, I’m sorry, Spot,” I said, trying to stifle my laughter. Antonio went downstairs to give the momma sheep some hay and I crouched down to pet Spot.
“It’s all going to be okay,” I said, stroking his head.
Spot readily accepted my affection, probably much more unnerved by this whole experience than he had been letting on.
I stood up to mix some hay for the other sheep and turned around. There, crouched above on a bale of hay, was Keeko.
“Keeko,” I growled. “Leave him alone.”
But there was no stopping him. And, remembering Peter’s words, I wondered if I should just let the cats fight and let the alpha be established.
But it wasn’t a fair fight. Spot wouldn’t leave the hole. Keeko was acclimatized and buddies with the whole farm animal gang. He had even grown an extra layer of winter fur to protect himself from the cold.
I was freezing and my toes felt like they were about to fall off. I couldn’t stand there and watch this show forever. Besides, it looked like Spot was doing what he could to ward off his stalker. For now.
I couldn’t even imagine how Spot must be feeling at this moment. He was going through his own Farm Survivor marathon, except for cats from the city.
Spot was going to have to get farm tough, just like the rest of us. Whether he’d survive remained to be seen, but I was rooting for him.
>> Read the next post in the #farmlifebestlife series: Until the Fog Clears