Introducing a new cat to your farm can be tricky, mainly if the cat has previously been housed in an animal shelter, apartment, or fenced yard in the suburbs.
Choosing your cat’s new home
First, you have to decide whether this cat will be an outdoor house cat or a barn cat. Stable cats are at higher risk for rabies, feline leukaemia, parasites, predators, and being hit by cars. However, they can go a long way in keeping the rodent population low and thus help protect the tack and farm equipment from damage.
Don’t place cats that are used to being indoors all the time or kittens in a stable.
Little kittens don’t have the survival skills to stay away from horse hooves, etcetera. If they were born outside and are somewhat wild, they may be fine.
If you cannot keep them in your home, place young kittens in a secure, enclosed area until they are several months old.
Types of cats and gender
The ideal cat “comes with the farm,” a stray who has survived independently and is happy to adjust to his family.
While almost any breed of cat can learn to live on a farm, certain species can do better than others.
Short-haired has advantages over a long-haired: don’t worry about matted fur, burdocks caught in the coat, fewer problems with hairballs.
Female cats tend to be better hunters than males. As an anecdote, turtle shells and calicos are the best hunters, while orange males have a reputation for being the sweetest. Often, an adult shelter cat with a history of being an outdoor cat is a good choice.
Introducing your cat to the farm
Adult cats can run away from a stable if they are not confined at first.
When a cat is put into a stable, it must be confined in a cage or tack room for two to four weeks. The owner will be able to determine when the cat is comfortable.
The socialized one will adapt more quickly. Where as a fearful one will have to be confined for a longer time.
The new cat should be in a place where the cats already living in the barn can smell and see the newcomer.
Cats are very territorial, even when they are upset, so the new cat will be the subject of great interest until the feline hierarchy is established.
To make the fit less stressful for a cat, provide a litter box during confinement and feeding the cat there so that she thinks of the room or cage as a safe place.
Caring for your farm cat
There is a myth that stable cats do not catch mice and rats if you feed them. This is false! Barn cats should be fed twice a day and have fresh water at all times. A bowl of hot water should be provided in winter. Cats should also have access to a shelter, such as a tack room, haystack or stable.
Feeding your cat canned food every night will attract the cat to the barn at night and help protect it from nocturnal predators like coyotes, raccoons, and owls.
In addition to predators, stable cats are more susceptible to parasites and diseases. It’s a good idea to deworm twice a year for both roundworms and tapeworms. Also, spaying or neutering your cat to discourage him from leaving your farm.
Make sure vaccines like rabies, feline leukemia, and distemper are up to date. A topical flea and tick medication may be needed.