Carmella- the Phantom Barn Cat


Helen’s Story

Little Helen Chapel is her FULL name… after the character on NBC’s Wings. She was found as a tiny kitten by my kind hearted sister-in-law on a cold, snowy night outside the Dome after an Syracuse University basketball game. Allergic to cats, she put the word out to find a home for this little sweetie. We had just adopted 2 stray kittens and I was concerned about bringing another one into the house- but I have a hard time saying no to furry sweetness and so does Farmboy. When I first saw her my reaction was “Oh my goodness, look at those mitts!” She’s polydactyl and as a kitten she was definitely “all paws”.

We took her to my girlfriend Sue Losito at Fairmont Animal Clinic and she was given a clean bill of health but had to take kitten formula for awhile since she was so tiny.

The other cats soon accepted her but she latched onto Oliver our black lab/golden mix with a strong and precious attachment. They have been pals ever since. Here is a photo essay that I did of those two! How can you NOT photograph that tenderness?

Helen is my little companion. She joins me in the garden.

She helps me with the paperwork.

She and Pongo keep my copier warm

and she loves to help me fold linen guest towels.

She’s a great climber with all of those claws and she practically has opposable thumbs.

When I am in the kitchen she is on the windowsill or the kitchen towel basket. Even now she is napping on the back of my chair as I type. We’ve had lots of animals and hope to care for lots more. Of our 3 house cats she is the kindest, sweetest and most shy. I adore her. So… that is her story.

A happy ending in a warm home with family, friends and lots of love.

A Cinderella Pumpkin Story

Not long ago a stray cat started making an appearance at the barn. Three older kittens live there to keep the mice in check. They have all been spayed and neutered. The little orange, peanut butter stray is quiet and skittish but has warmed up over the past couple of months.

I am an animal lover- always have been. I’ve never known life without some sort of pet/family member. Growing up we always had a cat, dog and/or horses at some time or another. Both of my horses came off the local racetrack in the Finger Lakes. My gelding was a pitiful sack of bones. It took some time to put on some weight on his frame and get the steriods out of his system. He lives high on the hog now and his less than stellar racing career is a distant memory. Oh how he loves to run but that is another story… another post.

This post is about the whispy peanut butter cat that started to become very round over the past month. I told Farmboy “That is a Momma Kitty, she is getting ready to have kittens.” Oh dear. There are already three at the barn and we have three in our home. I feel responsible for this poor cat who was probably dropped off out here in the country. Our three house/garden cats all were adopted. Little Helen Chapel is sleeping beside me as I type. (Farmboy and I are “Wings” fans… what can I say? Didn’t you love Helen, those Hackett brothers and Lowell??)

I consider myself a responsible, conscientious pet owner. Somehow I think we have adopted this little orange peanut butter cat or she adopted us. We’d better get ready for the vet bills- as if 3 cats, 2 dogs and 3 horses aren’t enough. LaLa has been thrilled at the idea of more kittens. She is some sort of bizarre savant cat-whisperer. Our rough and tumble Pongo is a tremendous hunter- a very serious cat yet he sits outside of LaLa’s door at night and cries until someone opens the door and he can go cuddle up in bed with her. He watches TV with her and tolerates her packing him around on her hip like a purse. She is the only one of us that he seeks to be with. Toonces sleeps every night with The Bean. When he hears a story being read he is there purring in stereo. Little Helen Chapel sleeps with me and Farmboy at night and doesn’t stir until we head to the kitchen for coffee in the morning. Numerous days I’ve woken up with a “Helen scarf” wrapped around my neck.  We have our companions and all is right in the world at night.

I’ve kept a close eye on Momma Kitty the past week then two days ago I saw her- skinnier. I knew she had her kittens but there was no telling where they were. The next day we saw her take a kitten into one of the horses’ stall. We tried to keep her out but she would only run back in. After we brought the horses in that evening Farmboy saw her take a kitten in through a stall window.

She was determined to nest in the straw in the corner of my mare Paley’s stall. The other morning when I went to feed to my surprise there were four kittens. She was snuggled up with them in the corner of the stall. It cracks me up to think of my spooky Paley with a mother cat and nest of kittens in her stall under her nervous and watchful eye.

So far all is well. I turn into a child again when I go in Paley’s stall and sit in the corner with “Pumpkin” and her babies. The barn comes to life with the sounds of the horses quietly chewing and the busy sparrows flying in and out feeding their new babies. I’m amazed all over again at the circle of life- the beauty and the tragedy of it all. That little momma kitty is a skinny pathetic thing but she is sweet and starved for a caress and a tender word. She is always there with those furry, yawning, hungry, eyed-closed kittens. Soon their eyes will open and they will start to explore their environment which makes me nervous. The plan is to get them out of the stall. I am afraid they will get stepped on. I hope she won’t keep taking them back to Paley’s stall once they are moved. We will see.

I think she is a keeper. We’ll have her spayed and she’ll have a permanent home where she’ll be fed and loved and patted regularly. Hopefully we’ll find homes for the kittens… the kids and cousins will be disappointed. Maybe they will stay and we’ll have them fixed too… the kittens, not the kids.  What if another stray comes next year?  Where do you stop? I don’t know. I’m glad Farmboy has a kind heart. Who knew that Pumpkin carried a four little glass slippers- that we have found in Paley’s stall. Maybe she is a princess after all.

Mouse Patrol


Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.


Blogs I Enjoy



Upcoming Shows

Philadelphia Flower Show
PA Convention Center
March 5th-13th
Booth #Z-1002

Copy Protected

This blog and all of the creative elements ie., written content, illustrations and photographs are the sole property of Michelle Masters Studio and cannot be reproduced in any form without the artist's permission.