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Situation with Farm Cats

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I have several questions that will come up with the background information I am going to provide. To begin, I know a somewhat small farm that is home to a small population of stray cats. Nearly all of the cats are very friendly, and most are female. The family that owns the farm does leave dry food and water out for these cats, but that is about it. Over the past couple of years, they have paid to have certain females cats fixed, and even fewer male cats (since there are less). Unfortunately, it seems like whenever they get a cat fixed, it disappears or meets an early end. :/ So, right now there appears to be only one male that managed to get around to more than one female, of course. At the moment, I know that I am not going to be able to talk the family into spaying all the females, so I am not going to be rude by trying... but if I do see an opening, I will mention any low-cost spay/neuter places I can find.

Anyway, moving on... I think there are four of five female cats right now, most likely two years of age or less. One female has two older kittens, a second female has five young kittens, and a third female was pregnant but they never located the kittens. I am an animal lover, have two cats of my own along with additional other pets, so these adorable kittens really get to me... not to mention the friendly female cats. The "adult" females are very thin. I understand that could be due to the improper diet (consisting entirely of dry food), worms, or both. The mother of the five kittens is so thin I can feel her spine, which disturbs me greatly. Also, these cats are generally smaller than what There is NO arguing with the guy who owns the farm... he is very stubborn & opinionated. If there is at least something I can do about the thinness of these cats, I am willing to try to the best of my capabilities. However, I do not get to the farm frequently - every few weeks, at most.

The cats have never been dewormed, and it makes me sad to think that these seven kittens could grow up to be so thin yet friendly. I have read about roundworms and know that it is best that kittens be treated for them, but I doubt the farm owner is going to pay for the deworming, especially if more than one round is necessary. I read online that OTC medications and home remedies are not very effective. Is that true? For the adult cats, I am not sure if roundworms, or some other type, would even be the cause of the thinness... if I were able to treat the worms, assuming they were the source, would the dry food be enough to help them gain enough weight to cover their bones?

I would absolutely love to foster the kittens, but I am not in the position to do so, especially since it is possible they could end up staying longer than intended... there are always kittens around, and although I would be willing to do free adoptions to any home I find suitable, I would be worried about finding those homes (or how long they would take).

Any suggestions on the weight of the cats, or helping the kittens grow up healthier in this environment, would be appreciated. I may not have the most money to spare, and neither may the farm family (kids, number of cats, stubborness, etc.), but I want to be aware of the options available... and I did read the 'Cant Afford the Vet' thread already, so please do not recommend it.

post #2 of 6
There should be a farm vet in the area. Ask him (or her) for some de-wormer. I think they usually use Strongid. It's cheap.....my vet charges $1 a dose in an individual syringe, but less if you buy a bottle and dose it out yourself. You can also ask the vet about vaccinations. If you're comfortable vaccinating them yourself, a lot of farm vets will sell you the vaccine and the syringes.

Kitten Chow is what the cats should be eating......there are better brands of course, but the farmer may not be willing to pay more. Plus, Purina has been around a long time and has a decent reputation, and that's what my ferals eat. They need the Kitten Chow instead of Cat Chow because it has extra vitamins and stuff for the kittens and also for the nursing mothers. However, if the farmer won't buy Kitten Chow, Cat Chow is better than feed store brands and it is for all life stages, so they won't starve if that's what they get. I definitely DO NOT recommend feed store or grocery store cat food. Dry food is better for putting on weight, but of course wet food would be nice for long-term health, if you can get the farmer to buy it.

If the females aren't spayed, there will just be more and more (and more....) kittens. So really nothing you do will do any good if the ladies aren't spayed. No point in them neutering the males if money is tight, unless there's a particular male they'd like to keep around. Neutering males does nothing for population control. There's always a tom around somewhere. So if you can find a low-cost spay program and help them transport the cats (sometimes that's the biggest problem), that would be best.
post #3 of 6
Originally Posted by Willowy View Post
No point in them neutering the males if money is tight, unless there's a particular male they'd like to keep around. Neutering males does nothing for population control.
I disagree with this - as a farm person myself - I've seen adult toms kill other adult cats & kittens - both male & female. When we were fixing our farm cats - the ones who had come back from the vet were contained in a building - and one of the intact toms who had a later appt in the week was doing his best to kill them! I would give the females priority in being fixed, but neuter the males as can be done, too. Every male neutered means one less male out there to impregnate females.

As for de-womer --- I get pyrantel pamoate from my vet for very cheap & in bulk. I de-worm the farm kitties 2-3x, 2 weeks apart. I de-worm at least 2x/year, often 4x/year. Many say you should take in a stool sample, but I have yet to get one from these guys.

As for food - basically, if you feed them good, they're just going to continue to re-produce until fixed. I suggest kitten food, which will have more nutrients for the nursing moms & kittens.

Have you looked into low cost spay/neuter in your area? Checked with local vets to see if they can work with you/the family?
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Well, it isn't a farm with livestock, but I will try and look up local farm vets. I should be able to pay for the dewormer myself if it is cheap/in bulk, but I need to check if they would be willing to administer the doses (since I might not be able to get there that frequently).

I can look into a healthier brand of dry food as well. Wet food is unlikely, since the guy does not understand why I feed my cats wet food (therefore needing a pet sitter when I go out of town). But, you never know, if I get it for him, he might use it.

As for the neuter/spay issue - yes, new cats just happen to show up at the farm... aka probably dumped. They once had a lovely, friendly long-haired grey female dumped, whom they had spayed. The problem was that they lost her soon after. There used to be more males/toms around - you would at least see them in the fields. For whatever reason, there have been less of them in the recent years. The female cats + kittens (once old enough) stick close to the house, and the only male that has been spotted in the past few months is an orange short hair (the neighbors'). The BS part is that obviously they cannot make the neighbor neuter the cat, but if they want less kittens, they can start with him (until another male shows up).

I did check for the low cost spay/neuter coupons a while back, and they were not enough to cover all of the females. I will have to check again and see if I find anything new. Last time, what I found was not enough to persuade them to fix more than one, possibly two, females.
post #5 of 6
Well, spaying one or 2 of them would at least reduce the number of kittens. Neutering the orange tom would have all kinds of benefits (listed by white cat lover) but it wouldn't prevent the females from getting pregnant. A cat in heat WILL get pregnant, even if the tom comes from 5 miles away (and they will). Even if you never see the toms, they come.

The de-wormer doesn't need to be given frequently. For kittens, once a month until 4-5 months (starting at 6 weeks) is a good idea, but adult cats should only have to be done once or twice a year. I only said you should get it from a farm vet because they're generally more willing to give out de-wormer and vaccine to anybody who asks, while pet-only vets tend to want to give a check-up first. But it's worth asking a pet-only vet, you never know. I think you can order it online (Strongid) from horse websites, but of course there's shipping and I know you can't spend too much on them.

Having experience with farm cats and the farm owners, I know it's difficult to get things done. Sometimes all you can do is prevent it from being a worst-case scenario, but it's rarely possible to make it a best-case scenario unless it's your own farm. But anything you can do to help will be an improvement.
post #6 of 6
Deworming once will only kill adult worms, the second deworming will kill the larvae as they hatch into adults. With a severe infestation of worms, deworming 3x is often required.
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