sick barn cats

lisainclydeMay 11, 2007

We have a number of sick barn cats. I am hoping to deworm them (for starters) and am wondering what the correct dosage of Ivomec is for cats. I understand they require four times the dosage that dogs require.

Any suggestions would be helpful. Additionally, they all have some sort of respiratory infection (a lot of coughing and sneezy mucous), and some of them are losing some of their fur. Some are not cleaning themselves very well anymore and one died suddenly.

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jan2(z5 Illinois)

Sounds like feline leukemia, FIP or one of the other infectious diseases cat colonies can come down with. Best take one to the vet to have blood work done to see what you are dealing with.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 3:29PM
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Jan could be right, you might have a problem with FAID's, or it could be combination of hair balls and upper respiratory infection. I have had cats who have gone through what you are describing in the spring of the year and pop out of it without any aid from me, and I've also had them die. My suggestion is take any pregnant females to the vet for exam, and recommendation on treatment. (When the momma cats deliver thier litter, they can pass the illness on to the kittens and they will die rather quickly.) If it is an upper respiratory infection the doctor will probably prescribe Amoxicyline.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 4:08PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

I would DEFINITELY hold off on any ivomec for the cats until you have seen a vet and know what you are dealing with. Worming is a stressor for healthy animals, and if they are already ill, don't do it. In any case, when I looked up Ivomec and cats - the only 2 uses listed were for a sub-cutaneous injection ('don't remember now the ingredients or dosages, nor what it targetted) and a topical mix for earmites. Unless you know more than I got off a googled site, and unless you REALLY know what you are doing, using Ivomec orally for cats seems totally contra-indicated. The cats may indeed be wormy, but I would wait for a relatively clean bill of health before worming them, however you do it.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 4:45PM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

If they have respiratory problems I would start with that, bring one in to the vet so they can run tests. I would not worm them, you should really see a professional to get an idea of what your dealing with before giving them medication.

I'm sorry you have lost one, you should act quickly to find out what's going on.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 6:28PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Also, Ivomec has no affect on tapeworms, so you would have to worm them separately for tapes, if the ivomec worked for other worms, after they are healthy again.

I hope the respiratory problem is something minor, and they all recover quickly. Sorry for the lost one.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 8:05PM
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Thanks for all the good advice! I certainly want to be careful and help rather than harm these animals. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of money available for vet visits, particularly with regard to the barn cats.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 8:54AM
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sharon_sd(SW ON)

I don't want to sound too harsh or unsympathetic, but if you can't afford to look after your animals, then you shouldn't be keeping them. Take them to a shelter or clinic where they will be treated or humanely put down. Don't just wait to let nature kill those cats in a painful way. I know you care for them. Do what you need to to see that they are treated.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 7:19AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

If your group of cats hasn't been already done, your local shelter or vet may hold inexpensive spay/neuter clinics, which you should take advantage of. It may be, since you seem to have so many, that they would negotiate a deal with you, treating it as a feral colony situation, so you could trap them and take them in a few at a time, still getting the reduced rate.

They shouldn't do this while the cats are sick though, so taking one in to find out if it is likely to be fatal for most of them, and finding out what, if anything, can be done to treat the cats, would be an option. If they aren't friendly, then you might have to dose their food or water, rather than dosing individually, so it might not work as well as otherwise.

Since wormers are usually dosed according to body weight, if the cats aren't friendly enough to catch, that might be a problem too. It wouldn't be ideal, but if they are "wild" cats, combining a worming dose with a neutering operation might work out - they would have to weigh them to decide on the anaesthetic, anyway.

Most vets are compassionate people, and many are willing to do work at a reduced rate, to stop animals from suffering. It might be worthwhile to speak to the local vet(s) and see if a reduced payment schedule could be worked out, whether for treating the whole colony for the respiratory disease and for worms or for spay/neutering, if there isn't a lower-rate clinic scheduled for a while.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 10:28AM
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My brother is always suggesting a cat reduction, but I don't seem to have a problem with my barn cat population to be growing. Between illness, coyotes, dogs, and accidents it seems like the numbers never increase beyond the usual 6 or 8 that come around. (Remember these are semi-feral cats. Some of them I can pet, but most of them will not come much more than an arm's distance to me.) I've tried using a live humane trap, but it seems like I keep catching the same ones, and they are generally the more tame ones. I hope you have better luck than I have had.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 12:37PM
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Respiratory infections in cats (and dogs) can be very serious and life-threatening, especially if they are already compromised with other ailments like worms/parasites, etc. They tend to quit eating/drinking and dehydrate quickly. I had to take one of my cats to the vet for antibiotics over the winter but was lucky that the other 3 didn't get sick. Trying to treat her with the medicine was much like trying to cuddle an exploding cactus, LOL. And she is a tame house cat! So I feel for your situation where the cats are less than tame and fearful of you anyway. I would normally agree with the poster that stated about having animals and taking care of them but I think in the situation of semi-feral cats it can be really hard and even the most conscientious caregiver would be hard pressed to care for each and every one of them like we would our "pets." The cost for an out-of-control group would be staggering at least. I know this won't be a popular opinion but I would try to trap the animals that you could and take them to a shelter where they would either be given proper care/adoption or put down. Maybe take one or two of the more tame cats and have them spayed/neutered. The others, if noted to be sick and not approachable for care, I would put them down myself in the most humane way possible. The sick cats may or may not survive their illness but will definitely live long enough to pass the illness around. If it is feline leukemia, you might have a problem on your hands in that regard. I wish you luck, let us know what you decide. Lori

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 11:17PM
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I write this with some fear and trembling, realizing that I am going to get criticized for my decisions. But, for all those who are reluctant to spend money on barn cats, but still want to help them, here goes. I am NOT going to take the cats to the vet, and I am NOT going to ask someone to 'rescue' them. I also don't think this is an unethical or uncaring decision. These are semi-feral barn cats! They come and they go, some stay for years, and some don't. Some get hit by cars, some get stepped on by cows, some freeze, some don't.

Here's what I did: I wormed them with panacur, dealt with what appeared to be a mite/louse issue with pour-on Dectomax and bought two big bags of kitty food. In the three weeks since I've been treating and feeding them, they all look significantly better. The one lingering issue is the cough/sneeze that all have that produces a green snotty blob. They all have good energy now and not much else that would appear to be a health concern to my untrained eye.

Again, if there were a free or truly low-cost spay/neuter clinic, I would consider participating. However, at least in the rural area where I live, that seems to be mostly a myth.

I guess I am a little put off by the suggestion that if I cannot afford or am unwilling to get veterinary treatmentfor these cats, then I have no business keeping them. I disagree. While we should never be neglectful or reckless with the animals in our spheres, I think there are differing levels of appropriate care depending on the animal and the situation.

Thanks for all your advice.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 11:16AM
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pricem11(z7 NC)

Lisa, It's clear you're doing the best you can, and your barn cats are better off as a result.

So called educated folks who live in the suburbs think they have something to teach the world.

Doing the best you can, living life a day at a time, dealing with crises as they arise while doing what your resources allow you to fend off more crises, prioritizing based on what can be done and can't be done---that's what real 'farm life' is all about.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 12:31PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Lisa, I agree with Mark that all anyone can do is the best they can, and that you are doing just that. Semi-feral cats are VERY Different from house cats or tame cats. I am whole-heartedly in favor of you doing whatever you can for them, within whatever the limiting constraints may be for you, I am WELL aware that cost and availability top the list. Feeding them is a big start, and not necessarily cheap. I know getting vet care for animals can be quite expensive.

My initial post was made in view of the fact that dosing cats with Ivomec seems to be contra-indicated under most circumstances. My subsequent advice was also predicated on what CAN be available in many areas - I have NO knowledge of where you live, nor what is available to you. I am very glad you were able to find several solutions and are dealing with the situation. My congratulations to you.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 2:12PM
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pricem11(z7 NC)

Absolutely! We don't have any knowledge of where Lisa lives and what resources are available to her. Many people are not aware, but there are still plenty of places where, yes, there is a 'state regulated' animal control, but it's so underfunded and undertrained it may consist of a guy in a pickup with a rifle. Yeah, there's a Starbuck's on every street corner now, but we aren't so homogenized (yet) that we can judge everybody by the standards of what we think we know, our own community, etc.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 9:26PM
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Lisa, I think you have done the best thing for your situation. I certainly wouldn't have taken them all to the vet either, except maybe one that was tamer and I was attached to as I said before. Sounds like you've improved their health. I agree with what Mark said above, too. There are priorities on a farm or anywhere else for that matter. Lori

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 9:53PM
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patrick_nh(z4/5 NH)

I'll be, I guess, the lone dissenter.

I take issue with two of the suggestions to help with this problem. One, relying on government sponsored animal control programs to help out. Underfunded and understaffed as they may be, they're supported by other people's tax money. People who have no say in whether or not Lisa keeps these cats. Using public money to fund the solution to a problem created by someone's personal decision to keep and breed these cats is unfair.

Second, suggesting that veterinarians offer free or low cost services, again, just because someone makes the decision to keep these cats without giving them proper medical attention, is unrealistic and, really quite nervy IMO. True, most veterinarians are caring and compassionate people, but those who expect to get the services for nothing have no idea how high the costs are for supplies and equipment, or salaries for their employees, or vet school loan payments.

It's nice to say that she's doing "the best that she can",
and that the cats' lives have been improved somewhat by her efforts, but it's not enough. Still allowing them to be "hit by cars, stepped on by cows, or freezing to death", is not acceptable. Much of that is probably attributed to the cats' weakened state due to their chronic respiratory and other infections, all going back to lack of proper veterinary care. It is reckless and neglectful, and it has nothing to do with my personal standards or with judging anyone without regard to their circumstances. Some things are just right or wrong, period.

I agree with Lisa on one point. There are differing levels of appropriate care depending on the animal, it's intended use, and the situation. These are obviously not house pets, and I'm not suggesting that they be treated as such. Still, IMO she has not met the minimum standards of what can be considered appropraite care.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 9:09AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Patrick, many free/lowcost spay/neuter clinics are funded by private donations. Some are funded with public moneys, at the county level, and some are pro bono (if that term applies) by the vet involved. I did not, in any way, suggest that the vet HAD to donate time, effort or money, only that asking if s/he would was a possibility. I KNOW vet's have to make a living, just like the rest of us - a brother is an equine vet. Equally, some may decide to make a "charitable" contribution to their community and offer some services at lowered fees. It's entirely up to the vet involved. If Lisa doesn't chose to ask, she will never know if she might have gotten it - but it is up to her. Don't ask, don't get....

Applying the same standards to everyone and to all situations is as unrealistic as making every case a "special" one. Some standards need to apply across the board, and some don't. Who makes the decision as to the cut-off point is up for grabs, as is where the cut-off point should be made. I may not agree with all of Lisa's choices, but I can't arbitrarily apply my standards to her situation. It's all very good and well to say she shouldn't BE in the situation she IS in, but she's there now, and beating her up, mentally, won't help her. Deal with what you can, and leave a line open for future dialogue. Things can change.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 11:43AM
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Well, frankly most vets in my area are businessmen, first and foremost. If you ain't got the money, they ain't got the time! As far as shelters, forget them around here. Our Humane Society is totally volunteer, not even funded and doesn't maintain a shelter or any programs. There are no county regulations regarding animal control, other than the incorporated cities/towns the only animal control officer is the Sheriff's office. (Only come out to take reports on animal bites, or severe neglect.) So a barn cat that at least gets fed some dry food, and has to fend for themselves otherwise is a lot better off than the ones who don't even get that. As to the issue of accidents, wake up! Accidents occur all of the time, and your hope is that either the animal does not suffer or that you can help it in some way. As someone who has had to make the decision of putting down an animal or spending hundreds of dollars I don't have, guess which decision I made.


    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 9:19PM
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patrick_nh(z4/5 NH)

Ahh, this always gets to be such an emotional issue, and so there's no reasoning with some people.

Sure, accidents happen, but being so blase about it, and allowing the cats to continue in their debilitated conditions is contributing to it, and is irresponsible.

Yes, there are some free or low cost clinics that are funded by public donations, and using up their resources by someone who just refuses to take full responsibility for the situation that these cats are in, is unfair to those who really do need those services for their animals, through no fault of their own. It also mocks the veterinarians who donate their time and skills, and the people who donate money to the cause. Veterinarians are in the business of helping animals, and it is a business. There's nothing wrong with that. Do you really think that they can call the drug companies and ask for free supplies, or the mortgage company to donate a free month, just because the vet is doing good work and helping the animals? Are his or her employees going to forgive not getting a paycheck at the end of the week? Someone needs to wake up here, and it's not I. Meanwhile, the vets are operating their businesses, and helping lots of animals who's owners do take responsibility for them, and pay for medical care that they can't provide themselves.

There's a big difference between putting an animal down because you can't afford it's treatment, and allowing it to continue on with a chronic disease. One is the responsible choice, one isn't.

Still what I'm seeing is the recommendation to rely on someone else to fix the problem. OH, the humane society won't do anything, the county doesn't care, let's ask the vet for a hand out....

Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 8:08AM
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We have our barn cats 'fixed' simply because we don't want an unlimited supply of them. Also, I hate the 'marking of territory' that intact males do and stink up your whole place.

Ours get cheap dry food as well as once-a-week tuna fish mixed with Diatomaceous Earth to control internal parasites. Our chickens and dog get this also. I put DE in their ears when needed to take care of ear mites. This is my contribution to the cats and they in turn control the rodent population beautifully!

As far as any vet visits except for the one --- sorry. The money isn't here. We keep ourselves healthy and expect the cats to do the same.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 8:56AM
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I would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and advice.

BTW, the cats really look so much better, and it's not just my hopeful imagination. They continue to have that nasty sneeze, but it doesn't seem to slow them down at all, at least not anymore. The missing fur is growing back, and they are all bulking up slightly. And, of course, I am now their new best friend in the whole wide world. Mew! Mew! Mewwwwwwwwwwwww!!

I will respond to some of the comments made by Patrick. And BTW, it's not because I'm emotionally unreasonable. It's because he has made some unsupported and unsupportable statements.
Patrick, you fail to offer a solution to those of us who find themselves with animals and lack the wherewithal to provide the "minimum standards" you also fail to define. Would you have me shoot or otherwise euthanize the cats? You have jumped to the conclusion that these cats have a chronic disease. How can you possibly know that? You claim that providing anything less than optimum professional care is unacceptable, so just what would you suggest as a responsible course of action? You certainly disapprove of taking advantage of any low-cost vet services, as well as shelter services, so is the only alternative you see is to kill them, Patrick? I personally don't find that ethical or palatable. In fact, I'd call that reckless and irresponsible. I'd like to hear some concrete, ethical suggestions from you as opposed to what you've offered so far.

I happen to agree with you that vets should not be expected to provide low-cost services, however when one does, then there is nothing wrong with using those services. I also refuse to take the cats to a shelter exactly for the reasons you state. Shelters generally survive on scant funds and I would never ask them to provide expensive treatment for animals that will never be suitable as domestic companions.

You imply that I chose these cats and that I own them. You state that I "keep and breed" these animals. I no more keep and breed the cats than I do the barn swallows. They arrive and set up shop all on their own. Just like the barn swallows, I am generally happy to benefit from their presence, but that's about as far as it goes.

Further, I don't "allow" them to be stepped on by cows, or hit by cars. The only way to prevent this would be to confine or eliminate them, both untenable solutions. I wonder, do you have barn cats? Danger is the name of the game when you're a semi-feral cat. You jump to the conclusion that they face risk because they are unhealthy. This is another unsupported assertion. It is a fact that even the healthiest farm cats can and often do die prematurely.

So, I am right back where I started: I will do as much as I am able to do for these cats without shooting them and without taking them to a vet. There is nothing "quite nervy" about that. I continue to be unpersuaded that my choices are either ethically or morally unsound.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 12:33PM
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Well put Lisa. Like you, my barn cats are not ones I went out and got, they just showed up like the Cardinals, the sparrows and the Bluejays. As they chose to hang around, I chose to feed them. (It is a semibiotic relationship; I give them additional food, and they help me by controlling the outside mouse and rat populations around my house, outbuildings and fields.) There are a few of them who like me to pet them, and they all respond to me when I talk to them, but other than that they are no more pets to me than the birds that come to eat the cracked corn and sunflower seeds I put out for them.

As to the issue of Vets, let me put it this way. Most of them went to school because they "loved" animals, not because they were wanting to get rich, but somewhere during the course of thier training they suddenly change. It isn't a matter of them not wanting to help the animals anymore it becomes a matter of the bottom line. If a good customer comes in, why is it they gig them for services before they even render them? (I had a pet cat with congestive heart failure and my vet DEMANDED $800 before he even began treatment! Surprise, surprise! I came up with it, and he treated and saved the cat, something he didn't think he could do. Well, after going through a year of continuing treatment the cat's condition worsened and it died. But in the mean time I had spent several hundreds of dollars on the cat and a dog with Cushing's syndrome. Did I ever ask for a discount? NO! But did he ever act like he was truly concerned about my animals, NO! He was only concerned about the bottom line.)

As to the issue of them having overhead, I agree they sure do, but it erks me to have him pull up in his brand new pick up (he trades every model year) when I am still using the one I bought used ten years ago, and it was 6 years old at that time. Too often I see too many people running around "keeping up with the Joneses" and not figuring out they can get the job done with what they have, and not have to put the screws to me in order to pay for thier lifestyle.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 4:37PM
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wireweiners(SW AR)

Lisa, if you can get some amoxicillin or other oral antibiotic for the cats that might clear up the upper respitory problem. Its usually pretty cheap and some are available at any animal health supplier. I am lucky that my vet isn't outrageously expensive and will let me pay out unusual cases.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 5:32PM
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You can also get amoxicillin at your local feed store.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 2:18PM
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What would be the dosage and length of treatment for a cat?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 3:41PM
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too_many_pets(LI Z7)

If it walks like a cat and talks like a's a cat. Regardless of whether it's a barn cat (which is purely there to meet your de-mousing needs)or a house-cat, if it's sick it deserves medical attention. (And since I'm cranky, I don't think people should have babies they can't afford either !)

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 12:18AM
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