Meet Sophie-Jane, Massachusetts Barn Cat of the Year

  • Sophie-Jane hanging around, above, and on patrol at the Thomas Dairy Farm in Sunderland. STAFF PHOTOS/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sophie-Jane on patrol at Thomas Farm & Dairy in Sunderland. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sophie-Jane lounges around at Thomas Farm & Dairy in Sunderland. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Laurie Cuevas holds Sophie-Jane in the goat barn at Thomas Farm & Dairy in Sunderland. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/11/2021 9:45:45 AM

SUNDERLAND — The winner has been chosen and she’s purr-fect.

Sophie-Jane, a 6-year-old barn cat at Thomas Dairy Farm in Sunderland, has been named the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation’s Barn Cat of the Year.

“We were cracking up when we found out we won,” said Sophie-Jane’s owner, Laurie Cuevas. “It’s one of the more unusual awards.”

Sophie-Jane lives in Thomas Farm’s warm room where the farm’s baby goats are raised. When she isn’t curled up, watching over the baby goats, Sophie-Jane is out among the farm animals and tracking down mice and birds in the barn.

“She’s a murderer,” Cuevas joked. “She’s always somewhere around us when we’re working.”

The Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation’s contest was sponsored by The Pet Food Institute, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring pet food is both safe and nutritious. Cuevas and the owners of other cats recognized by the Farm Bureau Federation received a basket of pet-themed items.

Cuevas said they entered the contest on a whim and described how Sophie-Jane came to be such a fixture in their barn in the nomination letter.

“I was like, ‘Oh what the heck, I’ll put her in,’” Cuevas said.

A panel of farmers with experience with barn cats reviewed 20 nominations, which featured written responses and photos that showcased each cat’s dedication to farm life.

Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation Promotion and Education Chairwoman Meg Gennings said Sophie-Jane fits the bill of a great barn cat.

“Sophie-Jane exhibited the qualities of an excellent barn cat,” Gennings said in a statement. “Not only does she keep rodents and birds out of the barn at Thomas Farm and Dairy, but she also is extremely affectionate and an excellent napper.”

Cuevas and her husband, Jim Thomas, got Sophie-Jane through the Dakin Humane Society’s barn cat program for cats that are too feisty to live in a traditional home. Cuevas noted that Sophie-Jane had lashed out at a child and a Chihuahua, and that a barn setting would work better for her.

“I was expecting some feral, scary cat … then I see her, she was like 5 pounds,” Cuevas said. “I can’t say enough good things about Dakin.”

Even at her diminutive size, Cuevas said Sophie-Jane “eats like a horse.”

Dakin Human Society Director of Development and Marketing Stacey Price thanked Cuevas and Thomas in a statement for giving a cat like Sophie-Jane a second chance at life.

“We are incredibly thankful to those who open up their barns to cats like Sophie-Jane.” Price said in the statement. “They are truly doing lifesaving work by making this choice. Cats like Sophie-Jane are used to being outside — some may not even like people and prefer the company of other cats, making it difficult for animal shelters to sometimes find living quarters for them.”

She said the name Sophie-Jane came from one of her kids in Sunderland’s 4-H Club, and it was also her grandmother’s name.

Despite her aggressive past, Sophie-Jane has calmed down and developed a strong bond with Cuevas.

“She’s just this quiet little presence,” she said. “I’ve never had a cat that loves me like this … whenever Jim is looking for me he looks for the cat.”

Cuevas said Sophie-Jane does her job well and she is so glad to have her be a part of their farm.

“She is a great addition here,” she said. “She is a good kitty.”

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