Now I will own up to the fact that I do tend to get the wide eyed look when I say that I have personal pride pack of purrpots on the farm.. most but not all are indoor-outdoor cats.. some are truly barn-yard cats.
But that does not mean that they do not need extra care.. they need the basic’s, water (and that means a unfrozen water source in winter) food (yes, you can let their kibble bowl run out between morning and evening chore time so that they hunt more) and shelter.
Now I know Shelter is a tricky one.. technically, you only need to let them have access to a building but honestly, I think they need a bit more then that.. at least in Canada, they need a area made for them, now that can be straw bales set up the right way so there are snuggy warm sleeping spots in them.. or double built insulated cat sleeping box’s, remember do not fill the winter sleeping areas with blankets or towels, the ideal is straw.. hay will do but straw is the best!
but the truth is even if they are farm cats they need a bit more then that.. they need regular deworming, they need to be treated for pests, including but not limited to.. ticks, flea’s and ear mites and depending on where you live.. heart worm.
Vaccines.. well they are more tricky.. by law, most places they need rabies. and I understand that.. but the rest.. its up to you.. I personally believe in kitten vaccines and one adult follow up and if you really think needed, one middle age booster.
but lets talk about the one thing you can do for them that is NOT required but its such a good idea! Alter them.. I know, I know..
I got him fixed and then the fox got him
I got her fixed and she got hit on the road
I got her fixed and then she was just gone
I have heard all of those above from friends on farms and I understand, I am weird, my cats just seem to stick around and live for like forever! compared to most farm cats..
But None the less!
Alter them.. your females do not need to have a litter or more a year.. yes, I know its awesome to have kittens on the farm, and I like having at least one intact female cat on the farm myself.. I love having a cat that is born here and thinks this farm, this land, this home and us are the center of their world.. but I have had strays come in and be the best, and I have been given a kitten that fit in like it had been born here..
Regardless.. bottom line .. if you want a litter fine.. but its not healthy for a momma cat to have a litter or two every single year, so if you want those kittens, have them and then fix the momma cat, or be prepared to lock her up during her heats (and don’t think for a second that she will not do a walk about to go find a boy, because she will!)
However you decide to manage your female so that she has limited litters in her life time.. the males are different..
While its true they will not have kittens, and they can very much live full lives in a pride, if you can afford to do so.. fix your males!
Remove the balls, remove the breeding, remove the fighting, remove the wanderlust, Remove the spraying! Remove the injuries that come with all of the above.
Well looked after altered males are a delight on the farm, they are steady as a rock, tend to be very healthy, good hunters and clean boys..
Sunny has become one of my pride, he is also the father to my current kittens, and he passed on his shorter hair, his wonderful temperament and his long big body.. he even adopted Blue as a close buddy!
He is a amazing father, and the first tom I have ever seen that taught his kids how to hunt, he would bring them his hunts, but I know he has had a rougher life and its time for him to properly settled down.. and that means he is also now fixed as well.. Enjoy the good life old boy, you have earned it!
Having said that, don’t think that they will not fight.. they will.. they are still very protect of the farm and the girl cats.. I have seen my altered males gang up and drive away stray males.. I never see them fight among themselves or the females but when it comes to strays.. they are not so kind! Its a rare stray that can move in and become part of the pride..
and in keeping with this.. Patrick is the first of the kitten pride of 2016 one that has gone to be altered.. Blue will follow in a few weeks as he is a bit younger and the girls will go when they are a touch older and bigger.
Now this one is tricky.. so let me be very clear! I am grateful for Vets! they are important.. they can do things we can not, and they are needed! a good vet is worth his or her weight in gold! if you find one, grab hold.. hang on and treat them very well!
BUT! those really good vets are getting harder and harder to find.. so many of the newer vets and so many of the vet clinics that do small animal (cat, dog) are losing or perhaps in some cases, never had.. any understanding for a farm critter and their life..
Which brings up the issue.. money.. its true.. the costs of altering has in some cases gone though the roof. It used to be that you could get a boy cat altered for a very lower cost, pay a bit more for the females but now.. you can find vets asking upward of a couple hundred to five hundred per cat.. I get it.. I do.. if you only have one pet cat.. and you want to have all the extra’s and you want to pay 500 for a spay.. fine..
But for those on the farms, where that money needs to be found, where other areas need to give and a little bit here and little bit there taken away from to save up enough to get that farm cat fixed.. its worth asking around..
Keeping it real on the farm.. I have not needed to get teenage cats fixed for a number of years, all my older cats are altered and my middle age female intact cat is that way because I want her to be.. so it was a shock to find out that my small critter vet prices had risen so high (see, he moved from a small clinic with basic’s to a new building with all the bells) and wow has the prices jumped!
It was around 500 per boy cat.. and a bit more for the females.. ok then.. so I looked to the lower cost altering clinics.. but like normal.. they are for the city folks only.. my rural country address need not apply.. but at least it gave me a base line.. male cats 165 plus tax and females 190 plus tax, no shots, no checks..
Ok, so I started hunting down a new old fashion, farm type vet, and I found them about 20 min away.. 120 for the under a year male plus exam, plus rabies shot.. for 200.. great deal.. and an extra 60ish for the bigger adult male cat.. As the meds are based on weights.. that is fair as well
They will be getting a good chunk of change out of me over the next three to six months and that’s ok.. I have no issues paying a fair price for a job well done..
If you are on a farm, do you keep none, most or all your farm cats altered? where do you come down? what is the spay costs like in your neck of the woods? are you finding that farm vets are getting harder and harder to find?