For most of my life, our family has had cats around our farm and homestead. When I was a kid I remember finding the momma cat with her kittens burrowed deep in the hay mow. I spent hours playing with them and dressing the kittens up in doll clothes.
When my husband and I purchased our homestead I knew that I wanted to have cats around the farm. Now going into our 6th year of homesteading, we have discovered the joys of having cats on the farm. Other than being great companions, they keep our field mice population at bay so our grain storage stays free and clear of unwanted rodents. Are you considering getting a cats for your homestead? Here are a few things to know.
How Do I Find Cats For My Homestead?
When we initially went to acquire cats for our homestead, we put out the word to our friends and family. It seemed like someone always knew of a friend or family member trying to get rid of kittens or adult cats.
The other option would be to visit your local animal shelter, and inquire if they have barn cats available for your area. Our local animal shelter has a program that traps feral cats in order to re-home them. These feral cats are vet checked, receive up to date shots, and are spayed/neutered before being placed on farms. The cost is usually much less than adopting an indoor cat.
Should We Get A Male Or Female Cat?
To me this is probably more of a preference, but over the years we have found we prefer female cats. They tend to be less aggressive in general (though they are just as good at hunting) and they tend to stick closer to the homestead. The few male cats we have had on our homestead tended to wander further than what we would have liked and seemed to disappear a lot faster than our female cats. When choosing a cat, we often started with kittens because they adapted quickly to an outside lifestyle. If you get an adult cat, I would recommend not getting a previously housed cat. An indoor cat can adjust to an outdoor lifestyle, but it seems to be much harder on them.
Learn more: Alternatives To Traditional Flea Control
Should Our Cat(s) Be Spayed Or Neutered?
Yes. As any other animal, take the time to make sure your cats are up-to-date on their vaccines and are spayed/neutered. The only reason to not spay is if you want your female cats to have a litter of kittens to self-populate for the farm. In our area, we tend to have a high amount of feral males that wander the area and so we did not want to run the risk of multiple litter of kittens. We felt it was more responsible to have our cats spayed in order to help curb the feral populations around our area. Keep in mind that cats come with the potential of vet cost just like any other homestead animals, so plan accordingly.
How Do I Care For A Cat On The Homestead?
On our homestead we keep dry cat food on hand and we only feed once a day in the spring, summer, and fall months when the mice population is high. By only feeding the cats once a day it encourages them to get out and hunt. It doesn’t do much good to overfeed cats and then watch them lie around in the sun while the mice play nearby. During the winter we do increase their feed to twice a day, and add in 2-3 raw eggs, which they devour quickly. The protein is good for them and helps them keep a strong winter coat and weight on through the cold winter months. We do feed our cats table scraps but try to stick to meat and some vegetables.
Learn more: Educational Opportunities of Animal Husbandry
What Kind Of Shelter Do Homestead Cats Need?
Cats are pretty self-sufficient and will often choose their own favorite spots to shelter, especially during the spring, summer and fall months. During the winter months we make sure there is a place in the barn or shed that has plenty of hay where they can snuggle down and stay warm in case of bad weather. Watch to see where your cat likes to bed down and shelter and then plan accordingly.
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What Are The Negatives To Having A Cat On The Homestead?
The only real negative that we have found to having cats on the homestead is the possibility of losing them to predators. We have a fair amount of coyotes and foxes in our area. If our cats wander too far off the homestead, they risk being eaten. This has happened to us several times. We do our best to protect them and keep them close to our homestead, but as any homesteader knows, you can’t prevent every animal loss no matter how vigilant you are.
There is so much more we could write on the topic of cats on the homestead, but these are the basics that can help get you started. Do you have cats on your homestead? What have you experienced? What would you add to this list?
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