Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Barn Lions

There are many benefits to living in rural areas. Green spaces aren't just 1 or 2 acre parks encircled by concrete and traffic but entire fields of cultivated crops edged by wildflowers, or deer and bunny trails through miles of woods to the river. A rolling field of sheep on my road is thoroughly guarded by a stern looking llama who seems to take their oversight very seriously. The sheep graze, seemingly oblivious, (a not uncommon state of mind for sheep), and undisturbed by passers-by. Not so their pasture mate who carefully inspects each person or vehicle for possible ill-intent. Grazing cattle and horses dot the hills near their barns. Which brings me to...barn cats.

(Courtesy of
Barn cats, or as Joy DeLisle calls them, Barn Lions, are a special if not entirely separate breed of feline. They are those who inhabit barns and outbuildings the world over, perhaps feral and fending entirely for themselves or as tame and pampered as any lap-occupying Persian and counting on a person for their daily ration. What they have in common of course are their barns and outdoor lifestyle.

Please note I'm an advocate of all cats being housed indoors. I think it's safer all around and a better way for cats to be had but it's simply not the reality of rural life. Barns acquire cats the way toddlers acquire sticky and middle schoolers acquire drama, which is to say it's inevitable.

What does remain in doubt is the level of care barn cats receive, and that's where Joy DeLisle and similar advocates of cat health step in to fill a barn-sized need. Joy owns horses and thus had a barn which had its share of cats. Over time, she won their trust and began photographing them in various poses and seasons. Eventually, she was able to handle them and have them neutered to help control the burgeoning population.
Tuxedo Cat Note Card - "Cat Eyes Speak" (5.5 x 4.25)
But she didn't stop there. Combining her creativity, photography skills and compassion for her furry barn mates she started offering note cards and prints for sale. Proceeds as well as donations go into a special Barn Lions account which is used to neuter and place feral cats and kittens in the community.

Cat Note Card "Going Through" (5.5 x 4.25)Mad Cat Note CardWorking with other local groups and volunteers, (Kat Snips and Cascades' Forgotten Feline Program), Joy was able to gather, neuter, and place 26 assorted cats and kittens in the last year.

"Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are. "– Teddy Roosevelt

For additional examples of Barn Lions note cards, please visit or to sign up for her newsletter or any inquiries please contact Joy DeLisle at or 517-937-8208.

Help prevent littering, send a Barn Lion instead of a Hallmark.


  1. Wonderful post! We have shared it on our Facebook page and will be tweeting it later. We have also subscribed to your blog.

    We have featured Joy and her work on our blog and think her talent and love of animals is just heartwarming. We love her!!!!

    We are also fellow Michiganders!!!

    1. Thanks for noticing me and sharing Caren and Cody. Joy's a very special lady indeed and anything to help a good cat cause deserves some recognition. Wishing you the perfect comfortable patch of sun for a nap!