Care for Farm Cats
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The Cat's Pajamas: Cats!
For many people, cats are an essential part of farm life. They're tireless and enthusiastic rodent exterminators and can serve as natural alternatives to using poisons and traps. They also offer entertainment and good company. But while farm cats may seem like free-ranging wild animals, they're really domesticated pets. That means they require regular care just like indoor cats, according to Lynea Lattanzio, founder of the Cat House on the Kings in Parlier, California. She cares for 700 cats and kittens in her no-cage, no-kill shelter on the Kings River in the Central Valley.Date Published: February 20, 2018Date Updated: February 21, 2018
Adopt a Farm Cat
If you're looking for a cat to adopt, finding one probably won't be a problem, given the high number of stray felines in shelters across America. Some shelters require that you keep adopted cats indoors, so look for a rescue that offers semiferal adult cats for farm cats.
When you first take your cat home, don't just let it go outside; you'll need to acclimate it to its new suroundings. "If taken to a barn or horse boarding situation, make sure to lock up the cat and provide food and water for at least two weeks," Lattanzio says. This will help the cat understand where to get food and water, and it will likely stick around.Date Published: February 20, 2018Date Updated: February 21, 2018
Offer Seasonal Shelter
When winter's winds howl and temperatures drop, even a thick-coated cat needs a place to get out of the weather and bed down for the night. Create a snug spot in a garage or outbuilding where cats can sleep. A cardboard box with old towels or blankets is a simple setup. Add a heat lamp in a corner for an overnight warm-up spot. "Cats prefer a high place to sleep, so put bedding or housing on a table," Lattanzio says.
Also keep food off the ground. "If you have raccoons or other animals in the area, it might be best to feed your cats, then remove the food at night," Lattanzio says. It's a myth that you need to withhold food from your outdoor cats to be good mousers.
Cats also need access to fresh water all the time, in all seasons. A variety of attractive rustic water vessels, such as galvanized pails, stone troughs, and enamel pans, fit into landscaping. In winter, plug in a heated water bowl when temperatures drop below freezing.Date Published: February 20, 2018Date Updated: February 21, 2018
Protect the Protector
Outdoor cats also need protection from predators. Although farm cats trump mice in the food chain, larger animals such as coyotes can kill cats. "When possible, it is best to bring any outside cats into a protected area at night, either the house or garage," Lattanzio says. "I recommend that you catproof your yard. This can be done quite inexpensively by attaching metal flashing to the top of a fence so cats can't climb out," she says.Date Published: February 20, 2018Date Updated: February 21, 2018
Health Care for Outdoor Cats
Regular vet care for your working cat will result in a happy, healthy, mice-eating animal. Required vaccines (distemper and rabies) should be given once year. And because farm cats eat most anything that happens their way, they should be given worming medicine twice a year. Outdoor cats may also suffer from ear mites; your vet can give you meds to treat for them at home. But the most ipmortant thing you can do for farm cats is to spay or neuter them. Spaying prevents a kitten population explosion in your barn and neutering reduces the urge for tomcats to wander. If you love your farm cats, "it's best to microchip them, too," Lattanzio say. You'll have better odds of finding them if they wander off.Date Published: February 20, 2018Date Updated: February 21, 2018
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