Just as is the case with any other domesticated cats, barn cats require a certain amount of care in order to remain healthy and happy. Owners will have to consider that while barn cats can be incredibly helpful and wonderfully happy, their environment and lifestyle exposes them to far more potential dangers than the average housecat encounters–which means that owners have to be willing and able to prevent and resolve these dangers as they arise.
Keeping Your Barn Cat Healthy
● Spay or neuter your barn cat. Not only is it important to control the cat population by preventing unwanted litters of kittens, but there are many other valuable benefits to spaying or neutering your cat. Fertile cats tend to wander, get into fights and bring diseases back home with them more often than sterile cats. Many communities recognize the many wonderful benefits of sterile cats and so offer low cost spay and neuter programs.
● Keep your barn cat up-to-date on his vaccinations. All cats benefit from receiving regular vaccinations that help to prevent against unwanted illnesses. A barn cat is at even greater risk than a house cat of contracting deadly diseases like Rabies and Feline Leukemia due to their contact with wildlife, so vaccinations against these diseases are critical.
● Feed your barn cat highly nutritious foods and provide plenty of fresh, clean water. Barn cats have many of the same basic needs as regular house cats as regards access to high quality protein foods and a constant supply of fresh water. It may be true that you rely heavily on your barn cat to keep pests away and you believe that their hunger will drive them to better pursue potentially troublesome mice, but they still need the full nutrition provided by a diet rich in protein and fat.
● Allow your barn cat to remain collar-free, or give them a breakaway collar. Any animal that is permitted to run around outdoors is at risk of catching their collar on branches or other things, and with the right pressure the animal can then become injured. Consider microchipping or tattoo ID’ing your barn cat for identification purposes–but definitely use a breakaway collar if you feel that some sort of collar is a must.
Your barn cat is an important part of your farm family, and so deserves the same devoted attention from you that any of your other pets would receive.