What about all these cats?

carmen_grower_2007(4/5)December 16, 2010

We are pretty new to the rural life (5 years living here on our 58 acres now) and see our neighbors all seem to have 12-15+ cats. They don't alter them. They feed them but don't let them indoors. I once thought that was insensitive but now I understand. We got our first (dropped off) litter several years ago. We fed them and had them all altered only to have all but two become 'coyote lunch' several weeks later. We don't have deep pockets. We had those two for three years until we had another 'drop-off'. Well, of course, she had kittens and once again we had them all altered, including the mom.

Now we have 7 cats that we feed. That is pretty expensive but since the weather has been in the single digits, we have let the kittens into the guest house. I have a big kiddie pool in the downstairs garage for them and man - are they ever using it! I clean it twice a day and can't seem to buy enough litter. Fortunately, they are doing no inappropriate peeing but I'm starting to understand the total outdoor living for cats.

I made outdoor cat shelters out of Omaha Steak coolers and am thinking that maybe I need to force these kitties to start using them before the raccoons discover them.

And ---- we are noticing a stray cat hanging around. Does that mean another litter in the spring? Where does it end?

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Check your area for a free clinic for ferals;
here, it's called Feral Friends, & all you have to do is bring them in early in the day & pick them up that same afternoon/evening.

People are asked to pay what they can.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 2:49PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

One of the unfortunate things about living in the country.

Jackass people who are too cheap to pay to turn their unwanted pets into the animal shelter rationalize that they are doing the animal a favor by dumping it off in the country.

They lie to themselves and their children that the pet will get a good home on a farm.

Cats dumped off here only live a week or two. Often they are pregnant when dumped and the kits will starve to death after the mom cat is killed by coyotes or dies of disease. There is something contagious here and stray cats soon have gummy eyes and die.

My local shelter charges $30 per animal to turn an animal in. I can't afford to pay $30 each to rescue 2-3 animals every week. Neither can I take in 2-3 additional animals every week.

I fence the dogs out so they won't kill my livestock. Dogs are lucky to live more than 24 hours after being abandoned. None ever make it past 48 hours.

Cats can move into my barn and I put out cheap cat chow only if there is deep snow. Other than that, they are on their own to sink or swim. The coyotes and owls get them. City cats are not prepared to live in the country.

There is now a local charity that spays and vaccinates wild cats and barn cats. There is a charge, but much less than a vet. They have a mom cat plus kitten special where they will do the entire litter. I have made donations to them because they are doing good work and are always strapped for cash.

If I thought the strays would live, I'd get them spayed. But it a waste of resources for cats that are going to die.

I don't take cats into my house, where they would normally have a chance, because I have always had sight hounds, and so it has the possibility of being more dangerous for a cat inside my house than outside.

I'd like to get my hands on those self-centered people who abandon their pets. I'd tattoo something unflattering on their foreheads for the world to see.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 2:53PM
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Thankfully we do not get strays dropped off here, though I suppose maybe we do but our place is very unfriendly to strays with our dogs on patrol.

We have rescued a 3-legged goat & a starving horse before, though that was our choice. I can't imagine animals just getting dumped like you describe.

Oregonwoodssmoke I wonder if Chlamidia is the problem with the cats.

I wish you all luck dealing with these issues, doesn't sound like it's going to improve anytime soon.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 6:49PM
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lily51(OH 5)

I was a city girl when we moved to the farm 32 years ago. It came with 7 barn cats. They stayed in the barn, had their kittens there, were fed there (not too much or they wouldn't catch the varmits) Drop offs were added here and there, but often they didn't stay, or were too inept at survival.

oregon, you're so right on what happens to most drop-offs, expecially in a field. They just stay at the spot and succumb.

I was a great rescuer of any stray anything at first, until I saw it wasn't possible to help them all. And as you say,the cost effectiveness of neutering is nil.

Cats around here get distemper with the gummy eyes, etc, especially if there are too many of them.

We had a couple who were tame enough for the kids to bring in and out of the house...one had her kittens in my husband's shoe!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 12:21PM
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Lots of cats up our way too. We're far enough from the city that we don't get too many dropped off, but there are always a few strays by each year. No one alters them that I know of.
We have 4 cats right now, one moved with us from the city 2.5 years ago (he's adjusted very well to being a barn cat, and has had a major, and much needed, attitude adjustment as well)the rest we acquired here.
Cats are a lot tougher than city people tend to give them credit for. Ours live down at the barn. We hit 40 below for about a week, and have maintained a fairly constant -20*C and they're all doing well (they have a stack of straw bales to hide in). We supplement them with a small amount of very cheap cat food, and other than that they catch mice & birds.

Carmen_grower I don't think it ever ends...unless you get rid of all your existing cats and then chase off or destroy anything that shows up (not a pleasant option, which is why I think most people just opt to let them stay, and let them live by natures rules (survival of the fittest). I've heard it said that the average life span of a farm cat is some thing like 2-3 years.

Oregonwoodsmoke - I could be wrong, but it sounds to me like feline distemper (have friends with the same problem) If it is you'll want to burn your deads.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 12:30PM
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Thanks verenap. I feel better about leaving them outdoors as long as they have shelter and food in the winter. I still don't understand how I deal with the litters of kittens if I don't have them altered. Of this last litter of four kittens, I would now have litters from the three females to deal with as well as the 7 cats I already have. How do you let little kittens fend for themselves?

I know, I will just have to 'deal with it'. The biggest mistake we made was naming them.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 2:35PM
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Also, I didn't mention that the reason we wanted cats to begin with is that they are very beneficial in getting rid of rodents that can completely destroy farm equipment and eat expensive feed. But --- enough is enough.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 2:41PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

Carmin, if you stack some straw bales in the barn, with gaps between the bales (about 4 inches), and where the bales can't get wet, your baby kitties will survive outdoors as long as the mom cat is still alive. Leave a small hollow in the center. Maybe 12 inches by the length of the bales.

If your cats are surviving, then try to find a spay neuter clinic or friends of cats type of organization. They will get your mama kitties spayed at a reasonable cost. It's about $20 here, but even $40 would be well worth it.

I wouldn't get them neutered until after they prove they can survive. Darn vets around here want more than $200. OK for a loved family pet but just impossible for all the strays.

I'd get the males done, too, to cut down on the spraying. Cat urine is foul.

Sometimes you can find an organization to take strays. If your local humane society doesn't charge too much and you don't get a lot of drop-offs, that is an option. At least the poor things won't starve or die a slow death in a ditch from being hit by a car.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 3:15PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

It is better to wait to neuter the male kittens because the urethra tube is larger as they get older. My Vet friend told me if you neuter when males are fairly young, the tube doesn't grow larger with age. This can cause problems for the cat later on. Kidney stones can't pass, urine doesn't come out easily with constricted tube in older cats. My Humane Society does spaying and neuter clinics, and they didn't say anything about waiting on the male kittens.

So a word to those who will be doing young male cats, wait until the males are older. Closer to a year is better than 6 months or so.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 5:44PM
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lily51(OH 5)

Barn animals are tough, but as oregon said, straw in a barn is cozy and warm when all those little guys snuggle together. Keep the barn doors closed to cut down on wind. Still, it's better for kittens to be born in a time other than winter.

As a side note...we had a golden retriever who had 9 puppies in the barn in the dead of winter with well below zero wind chills. Every one of those little rascals not only survived, but were the chubbiest, healthiest puppies you ever saw!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 10:27PM
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