Cats are not particularly well-known for having selfless attitudes of devotion to their humans, but Heather Loges says her barn cat PJ is an exception to the rule. At four years old, PJ has become her ever-present assistant when it comes to foal watch, yearling sales prep, and raising the calves on Loges' property in southeast Iowa outside Farmington.
His only request as payment? A warm animal to snuggle with.
PJ has been known to curl up on the backs of calves wrapped in horse blankets and even with a Thoroughbred yearling named Little Man, especially on cold nights. So far, horses and cows alike seem to be accepting of the arrangement – even if it means PJ drops down on them from a perch on a hay bale.
“Surprisingly, the animals don't seem to mind him sitting on them,” said Loges. “PJ one day decided to climb on [Little Man's] back when we were grooming him. I figured Little Man would freak out, but he didn't seem to mind! We were prepping him for a sale and PJ was there every night to help groom him. That must be the reason Little Man sold well.”
PJ is a fourth generation barn cat for Loges and is called 'PJ' as an abbreviation for 'Peaches Junior,' a nod to his great-granddam Peaches, who Loges describes as “very sweet, but cross-eyed and not the brightest crayon in the box.” (This Peaches was unrelated to the Peaches who lives at Australia's Arrowfield Stud, so far as we know.) By contrast, PJ knows exactly what is going on everywhere on Loges' property, where she and her fiancé raise Thoroughbreds, miniature cattle, and myotonic (fainting) goats, the latter under the C&H Shorties banner.
“Any time we do chores, PJ is there to help,” she said. “If the vet is out, PJ is there to make sure they are doing their job. Foal watch? You can count on PJ to keep your lap warm. Newborn goats? PJ will snuggle them. If you forget to bring his food to the barn, he will follow you back to the house to make sure you remember.”
Besides preparing Little Man for sale, PJ helped manage another Thoroughbred named Loki from foal to yearling. This year, he is concentrating his energy on a bottle-fed calf who has needed some extra attention to get through the last of the wintertime weather.
Unlike the traditional barn cat, PJ isn't exactly known for killing mice. Loges suspects he is too sweet to actually stalk and kill anything, but he is good at happening across a dead rodent and pretending he had something to do with it.
Of course, being a good barn buddy is often as much about looking after the people in the barn as it is the animals, and PJ is well aware of who his most important charges are.
“PJ is one of the happiest cats that I have been around. He just wants to be where everyone else is and puts himself right in the middle of the action,” Loges said. “I've never met another cat like him. His favorite people are my fiancé's daughters. He lets them tuck him under their arms and drag him all over the place, purring all the way. It's never dull when he's around.”
Do you know a Thoroughbred whose barnyard companion should be featured in Barn Buddies? Email our features editor at [email protected]. All species of barn buddies welcome.
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