From "Horse-Canada" - Nov/Dec 2015
BARN CATS need love too!
by Angie Beaudet
ALMOST EVERY BARN OR STABLE HAS THEM WANDERING ABOUT; A FEW PLAYFUL FELINES THAT SEEM TO FIT RIGHT IN WITH THE DECOR, COMPLETELY AT HOME AMONG THE HORSES AND HAY BAILS. BUT JUST LIKE HORSES THEY NEED CARE AND ATTENTION TO BE HEALTHY AND HAPPY.
Spaying and neutering: (having them fixed) should be the number-one priority on your list. Cats that are left to breed among themselves can give birth to unhealthy kittens, but also become a financial burden as they become too numerous to care and pay for. If price is a concern, find out if a stray or feral cat spaying and neutering program (sometimes offered by animal shelters/ humane societies at a fraction of the price) exists in your area.
A vaccination program: will keep several serious illnesses at bay. Because barn cats live outdoors, they have a much higher risk of contracting certain diseases than indoor cats. Your veterinarian can help you determine what vaccines are important for barn cats.
Parasite control: is also a must for barn cats, as they are regularly exposed to fleas, ticks, and mites. Many treatments are easy to use and only require applying a drop of the product in the hair at the base of the cat's neck. Since barn cats usually eat small critters such as mice, they can also become contaminated with internal parasites (intestinal worms, heart worm, etc.) and will require a product that will eliminate these as well. Consult a veterinarian in order to choose the right combination of products.
An adapted feeding program also needs to be put in place: It isn't enough to just let the cats fend for themselves by hunting mice. Although getting rid of these pesky rodents is one of the great advantages of keeping barn cats, the nutrition it gives them usually isn't enough. You'll need to balance giving just the right amount of food to keep them at a healthy weight, while still wanting to chase mice. They will also need to have access to an unlimited source of fresh water every day.
A warm place to sleep and shelter from the elements also needs to be a priority: Even though they may become more accustomed to the cold and rain than house cats, they are still vulnerable and need to have a warm place to stay. If it's too cold for you to spend the night outdoors, it's too cold for them as well. Make sure they can enter the barn at will and have a cozy spot to sleep.
Consult a veterinarian and schedule a checkup at least once a year: Not only will the vet be able to diagnose any underlying health issues, but he/she will also be able to apply essential preventative care, such as vaccines. Your veterinarian is your best source of knowledge on cat health, enabling you to keep your felines as healthy as possible, purring with delight and a great joy to have around when you visit the stables!
OH INDEED, THERE ARE TWO LOVELY CATS AT THE MOOSE HILL HORSE RANCH, WHERE I BOARD MY HORSE GOLDIE.
JUST WOULD NOT BE THE SAME WITHOUT ANY CATS AROUND; ONE IS A NATURAL FEMALE AND RECENTLY [LAST WEEK OF OCTOBER 2015] HAD 4 ADORABLE KITTENS; NOW BEGINNING TO SPREAD OUT MORE AND MORE AS THEY FIND THEIR NEW HOME IS VERY LARGE. MOMA CAT SITS BY THEM AS THEY PLAY, LIKE SAYING "I'M WATCHING YOU, TO KEEP YOU SAFE."