Barn cat care

Barn cats are kings and queens on the farm, keeping away varmints like moles, mice and even snakes. But though they tend to be fiercely independent, these resourceful felines can bene­fit from added protection and routine care.

Dr. Sarah Peakheart, assistant clinical professor with Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, offers some tips for ensuring the health and safety of barn cats:

Construct a perch or loft area so barn cats have a safe space away from potential predators.

Spay and neuter to prevent litters as well as to keep them from roaming away, fighting with others and channeling their inner “Tomcat.”

Have an updated identification tag on their collar, and if possi­ble have them microchipped, an easy option available at veterinary clinics during their spay or neuter procedure.

Store feed in enclosed bins or rooms to deter food-seeking predators, such as raccoons, possums and others that can harm even the toughest barn cats. Dr. Peakheart warns that wildlife can spread diseases, such as rabies, intestinal parasites, fleas and ticks.

Place common chemical-based items such as fly spray and antifreeze safely out of sight. Some substances, even when ingested in small amounts, can cause seizures (or worse) in cats. While they may not purposely ingest some things, they will groom it off their fur.

Offer outdoor cats (or dogs) safe, warm places to sleep and ensure they have plenty of food and fresh water. Consider a heated water bowl to help prevent frozen water during wintertime.

Make plenty of noise before starting up your vehicles or farm equipment, especially during the wintertime when outdoor cats look for places to stay warm, such as under the hood of your vehicle.

Prioritize preventive care for barn cats, including vaccines, flea and tick control and heartworm medicine. Talk with your veterinari­an about any additional health considerations.

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