30 September

Zipland: Questions And Answers About Our New And Adventurous Barn Cat

by Jon Katz

Questions about Zip continue to pour onto my blog post pages from Facebook and e-mails. I am committed to answering them as long as they keep coming in, and I thank my readers for these questions; they are challenging me to learn a lot about Zip and all cats. I’m determined to do that; it has been suggested that Zip is turning me into a Cat Person, something I have avoided almost all my life.

Here are the questions.

Keep them coming on my blog posts, in e-mail – [email protected] – or on Facebook, where the blog also appears. The questions will only be answered here on the blog. I can’t respond to all of them on different platforms in real time, I don’t have the time. But I will try to answer everyone here, and thanks for asking them. Zip is a big deal for me and, obviously, for my readers.

I am learning as much or more as I am answering as I research them.


One: Who named him Zip?

The rescue group did. It was a brilliant choice, I never would have thought of it. He is a Zip.


Two: Do you think Zip is more affectionate than your female barn cats?

He is more affectionate and demonstrative than our two female cats, Flo and Minnie; they were mostly feral. Zip is an outdoor cat, but he seems needier than they were. He loves to rub against my leg or Maria’s and is beginning to get into our laps. Flo and Minnie never wanted to do that, although they did want to be rubbed and scratched. Minnie and Maria got very close, and Flo relentlessly subdued me.


Three: We accidentally rescued a cat as smart as Zip and wonder what you would suggest for getting our next cat as delightful as Zip (and our Molly).

This was a matter of luck, but it helps to call an experienced rescue group and tell them the kind of pet you want and how you want to live with him. This is true of all pets; the more information we give breeders, rescue or shelter people about what we want, the better the odds you will get that. We told this rescue group, Salem Community Cats, what we wanted, how he or she would live, and Zip fit the bill.

We knew he was the cat for the minute we looked at his picture. People often get pets emotionally or impulsively without doing much thinking or research. The harder we work at it, the better we do. With cats, the best rescue groups will always try to match you with the dog or cat you want for the animal’s sake and yours. They don’t want their pets to be returned or abandoned. That happens all the time.


Four: I have never had a cat, as I am allergic to them. I know there are different breeds of cats, but I don’t know much about them. Do you have any idea what breed of cat Zip is, or is he a mix? Genuinely wondering as I am cat-ignorant.

No more than I am. I’m unsure of his breeding history; Zip was abandoned or escaped early and has lived outdoors all his young life. People call him a Tuxedo Cat, but I don’t think that’s a breed. Maria would call him a domestic short hair, but that’s the best we can do. There is no one to ask. Some cats work for people with allergies; they don’t shed. Ask your vet about it if you are interested.


Five: Question about Zip. I’m confused. You say you feed him regular cat food, but you expect him to live longer than house cats because he is not fed processed food. Isn’t regular cat food processed?

We feed him daily if he wants to eat, but he is free to go out and hunt, which he already does. If he follows Barn Cat precedent, he will catch and eat birds (once in a while), baby rabbits, moles, and chipmunks. This varied diet, say our vets, is very healthy for barn cats and why they live longer than house cats when fed and cared for.

If he catches something good, he’ll ignore the food we give him as time passes. In Spring and summer, most of their diet goes to nature, but there is always food for them if they want or need it, and the vet approves the food as the best available. Eating their natural food is clearly healthy for them, but when there are blizzards or storms, it’s good for them to have an option. We offer him food every day. All commercial food is processed in one way or another, but it won’t be his full diet, not if he is the barn cat we think he is.

By feeding him regularly now, we made sure he attached himself to us and didn’t take off the second he got out of the crate. Food is essential to the human-animal bond. We ensured he knew this was home; for almost all animals, home is where the food is.


Six: How Does Bud Like Him?

We don’t really know; they stare at each other between a fence, but they haven’t met nose to nose yet; we don’t want to rattle Zip when he’s so new. I’m sure Bud will not like him and try to run him off as he does all strange and new things to the farm. He won’t get far with Zip, who seems fearless. I predict when they meet, which will soon, Bud will get a scratch on his nose and then mind his own business. Bud thinks he’s a lion but is often reminded that he isn’t. But loves to chass things, but they must be small for him to catch or eat them.

He stared at Minnie and Flo and often barked at them, but they just ignored him. Flow gave him a whack once, and he never got close to her again.



Thanks for the questions. Keep them coming, and I will continue to answer them. They do me and you good. I’m learning a lot from them and my work answering them.


  1. For you cat allergic follower: We have a member of our family who is highly cat allergic, but Purina has come up with a food product that sharply limits a cat’s production of the enzyme that people are allergic to. It actually works. And now our family has a cat living with us. You may want to investigate it. The name is Purina Live Clear

  2. You keep saying that you are not a cat person. What led you to that position? It certainly seems like Zip has changed you. It is my experience that male cats tend to be friendlier than female cats. My vet once told me that orange cats have a friendliest gene that makes them the friendliest of all.

    1. I’m not sure that orange cats have a gene that makes them friendliest of all. I’ve had 3 orange cats, both male that were very badly behaved in the house. The 3rd one actually bit my leg twice early in the morning because I wasn’t serving him his breakfast quickly enough. The friendliest cat I had was a tuxedo cat like Zip and also a gray cat who loved people.

  3. Thank you for sharing your stories of Zip. Our 12 year old orange cat is a rescue. All the years we have had her she does not like to be picked up. She will claw you and I have scars to prove it. She will however jump up in your lap and let you pet her. She is an indoor cat and torments the goldendoodle we have and are fun to watch. Right now she is asleep in a box on the dining room table. This is her favorite place as she can see most of the house as we have an open concept. Once in awhile she will sleep on the quilt on the bed

  4. You love to read. I thought you may want to find this book which is one of my all time favorites.
    The Silent Meow by Paul Gallico.
    A knock on the door bought the author to the front door. He found a manuscript on the step. He opened it but could not read it. It appeared to be gibberish. On closer inspection he figure out it had been typed by cat paws and so he decoded it( (mis hit letters) It is a guide book written for cats on how to get a family.
    Great insight on cat minds. Worth looking for. I think it is out of print but it is a keeper.
    Glad Zip found his family.

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