All are Welcome: Homeless Cats find Sanctuary on Basin Electric Employee's Ranch

Tami Lynn Arndt, administrative assistant at Laramie River Station, has always loved animals. She raised Tennessee walking horses for 30 years and also had dogs, cats, and mules. But it wasn’t until a feral cat wandered into her barn 17 years ago that she took it to a whole new level.

“After I saw two eyeballs sticking out of the hay, I put out a live trap and caught Cassie. I named him that because it means speed in Swahili. I love naming the cats after their African ancestors,” says Arndt.

Cassie was the first of many cats to call Arndt’s barn home. In fact, at one point she had 21 cats living on her property 10 miles outside of Wheatland, Wyoming.

There’s no shortage of personality for these cats who call Arndt’s barn home.

Sadly, Arndt’s farm has become a drop-off site for unwanted cats. Lucky for the cats though, they’ve ended up with someone who is committed to taking care of them. Arndt says as soon as there’s a new cat around, she sets a live trap, usually by her bedroom window so she can hear it. Some of the cats act feral while others show up already spayed and neutered. For those who haven’t been yet, Arndt takes the cats to get spayed and neutered and gets them up to date on vaccines.

Next, all of the cats who are live trapped get to live in Arndt’s house for a short period while she tries to “gentle them.” For the ones who have a good disposition, she puts an ad in the paper to have them adopted for free. The others get to live out their days in her barn.

“If possible, I want them to go to an indoor home. One lady took three beautiful bangles. She’s kept in touch and sent photos. It makes my heart so happy to see them all together and taken care of,” she says.

She added that if someone takes a cat and ends up moving or it doesn’t work out, they can always bring the cat back to her farm and she’ll find them another home.

Even though Arndt is willing to take care of the cats who find their way to her, she says it isn’t as romantic as it may seem.

“People leave cats here and think, ‘Hopefully she’ll find a loving home and be just fine.’ That’s not true. These cats are scared to death. They often put up with coyotes and owls and are fighting for their lives. They don’t know what’s happened. They’ve just been dumped somewhere and harassed by wildlife until they found my barn, if they’re lucky,” she says. “And even in a barn like mine, their lives are still often relatively short because there are a lot of animal threats around. I wish I could get people to understand that.”

Tami Lynn Arndt says her cats will run up to greet the cattle dogs and love to rub up on them.

Arndt’s cats come in all shapes and sizes, and she can tell you all about the personality of each one, like Shujia, Blue, and Butterball.

“Shujia means sporty in Swahili. His daddy, Ringtail, used to come into the barn all the time, and he left us with some beautiful kittens, including Shujia. If anyone came along and wanted him, I don’t think I could let him go,” she says.

“We call Blue ‘the ghost cat’ because he won’t show himself to anyone except me. Blue probably needed a special home because he would never stop biting. But I got him fixed and he loves to be petted by me, so he’s happy.

“I believe Butterball had been with a family before, but it took a few days for him to come around. Now when he comes out, he has the cutest little meow. He’s one that’s going to stay with me.”

Arndt feeds the cats every morning before work at 4 a.m. She puts a headlight on and comes out with pans of food, including some tuna fish as a treat. “They’re so spoiled,” she says.

Today, Arndt has 11 cats that she says are there to stay. “They’re never going to leave me, they’ve been with me too long. They’re home now,” she says.