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The latest in farm lessons. Or: Kitten diarrhea is the new black.


Cats are always a problem on farms. Feral cats make a decent living on a farm, unless something eats them. My uncle always shot every cat he saw on his property. I was hoping for a more moderate stance, or at least fewer strays.

My kindness has been rewarded with shit.

Kitty was here when we moved in. She was starving, I mean really starving. We fed her because it was obvious she had lived here with someone and they left her behind. She was not feral, she was friendly and groomed and not good at feeding herself. She was emaciated and sweet, so we fed her. Then she got pregnant. 

The vet said last week that there is often a cycle of stray, fed, healthier, pregnant three times a year, four kittens each pregnancy, etc., etc. That’s why the vet has a farm cat spay/neuter special for his farm customers. We’ll be taking advantage of it shortly.

So Kitty is far along in her second pregnancy. She is at the classicly popular lumpy football stage. Fuzz is a female after all, not a male. This makes me sad because the spay is more than the neuter would have been, and there is a longer recovery time. We’ll spay her as soon as she’s old enough per this vet’s guidelines. She is four months old this week.

We had the two tiny kittens show up nearly two weeks ago by climbing the front door to get our attention. They were hungry and teeny and we fed them, too. We didn’t want the foxes, coyotes, or hawks to eat them. They ended up covered with liquid poop courtesy of tritrichomonas foetus, a flagellate parasite that mainly affects kittens.

The parasite meant deathly diarrhea, no exaggeration. I took one of the kittens, the sicker one, to the vet for diagnosis. It took five days to get meds. They needed subcutaneous fluids and baths and due to my weakened immune status I had to wear gloves to handle them. They are isolated in the cat pen which displaced Kitty and Fuzz, meaning they’re being fed in the house temporarily and on their own at night. No one is catching rodents in the chicken house right now.

Hopefully we can find homes for the two new kittens when the meds are done in two weeks. Hopefully Kitty will not have four kittens and we can find homes for the ones she has. Fuzz will likely remain here. At least the new babies are litter trained, even while so sick. That helps. Two friends donated money towards kitten care. This will vaccinate all of them and spay at least one, I think.

We are thinking that killing the incredibly large raccoon population made cats feel safe to move into the territory. We saw the kittens’ mom the other night, actually we caught her in a live trap. We leave the trap in different spots to see what we have on the property, and there was no doubt this was the kittens’ mama. Their coloring is really distinct. 

The same night we saw Fuzz’s papa on the deck. We had been feeding Fuzz and Kitty on the deck but when big daddy showed up we brought that operation into the house. So that’s two more cats running around here, one of them clearly fertile.

Another possible issue is that living only three miles from town, people may be dumping their cats on our property. The issues remain the same, though. They may spread disease to our animals, and that’s not okay.

We will probably have to start shooting cats. The dogs don’t chase them away or hurt them, because they’re trained to herd, not kill. We can’t have a huge feral cat population bringing disease and an endless flow of kittens around. That gets ugly in a hurry. There is nowhere to take a bunch of feral cats because all the farmers have the same problem. We don’t have many options, and shooting is likely the kindest one.

The hypocritical bit is I don’t want to shoot kittens. Kittens are adoptable, and shooting babies is tough. There are many reasons to have to shoot feral adults, but kittens? I have trouble with that part. So does Levi. We are such pansies we didn’t even abort Kitty’s babies. We could have had her spayed when we realized she was pregnant, but we just couldn’t do it.

I wish there was an easier solution to all of this. If there is, I haven’t seen it yet.

— 1 year ago with 26 notes
#cats  #feral cats  #farm cats  #kittens 
  1. farmpuma said: We have a county animal shelter which will take feral cats and even loans live traps. It’s better than the shooting images from my tween/teen years which still haunt me fifty years later.
  2. tochaseortohunt said: This breaks my heart.
  3. milkglassmao said: I use the same logic we use for deer management—the smaller and more diverse the population, the healthier they are. Once population growth exceeds resources, they get sick and live unhealthy lives. Sad but true. Don’t feel bad.
  4. farmlandia posted this