Rural areas have plenty of them. In fact, many farms have large colonies of 30 or 40 or more… Barn cats. Feral cats, mostly. Some fairly friendly and curious.
Every farm I have visited is feeding their cats and cares about them greatly. But because it is costly, farmers just cannot keep up with their vaccinations or, most importantly, getting them all spayed and neutered.
Sadly, any healthy and happy barn cat population can be decimated in a blink of an eye by only one visit of a passing stray tom that brings in diseases such as feline rhinotracheitis (upper respiratory or pulminary infection), FIV, or feline leukemia which are easily spread by sharing water and food sources. Once infected, treatment, if at all possible, is costly and difficult. The only way to eliminate the virus from the farm is to put down every last cat.
Recently a neighbor’s barn cats have started sneezing and getting runny eyes. A sure sign of rhinotracheitis, caused by the feline herpes virus. I am trying to help catch the sickest so they can get antibiotic shots, and giving L-Lysine in treats and liquid form to build their immune systems and recover.
I am also researching possible forms of antibiotics or other treatments that can be administered in food to reach all the kitties.
Having been involved in animal rescue for a good 20 years in Los Angeles, I feel quite strongly about caring for all animals, even those who are not snuggly and friendly, or in farmer’s terms, useful. They do rely on us.
Together with a friend, and hopefully the support of our local vets, I am working on creating a program to fund and host annual spay/neuter and vaccine clinics, and to make medications and treatment for sick barn cats available and affordable.
Wish us luck, I will keep you all posted on our progress. If you have ideas, connections, or time and energy to help us with this project, please contact me! All support is appreciated.