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Editor's Note May 2014 Issue

Barn Cat Management

Sometimes, cats can just show up on our doorstep.

A friend of mine lives on a large produce farm off a quiet country road, and periodically someone will quietly drop off an adult cat, or sometimes a litter of kittens.

Fortunately, this friend has a very soft spot for animals, so she does her best to take care of the kittens and keep them healthy and safe until she can find homes for them.

But some of the adult cats are not so easy to place. Some of them are tried-and-true outdoor farm cats who are too set in their ways to convert to quiet, indoor living. Some of them are semi-feral and are even less inclined to want to make the move inside.

As a result, she always has a brood of mismatched cats on the property with interesting stories to tell. But it’s important to remember that just because they’re barn cats, they still need a certain level of care. This includes veterinary intervention if there’s illness or injury. Spay and neuter goes without saying. Additionally, you should talk to your vet about any vaccinations and parasite control that an outdoor cat would need while living in your region of the country.

Even if they are good hunters, it’s important to make sure they have daily access to fresh food and water (it’s unlikely that they are all going to subsist on a diet made up mostly of mice), and that there’s adequate shelter for them in the colder months of the year.

It’s important, too, for them to have a “safe zone” that’s high and out of reach in case the neighbor’s (decidedly not cat-friendly) dog wanders over for a visit.

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