Vicious clan leader sitting with our newcomer long hair, without any remorse
Cat problems at home
Many of us know the troubles of having a cat that urinates or has behavioral problems when indoors. For most people, the best option is to drop them off at their local humane society and hope the animal doesn't spend its life in a cage. For many of us, there weren't many alternatives. However, if you have land and/or know a friend farmer, there may be an alternative.
What not to do
Most folks bring the cat to the new farm and instantly let them outside.
What happens is the cat runs away and in most cases is never seen again. That didn't work...
In cases where there are other cats on the farm, they will hiss, chase and sometimes harm the domestic cat... who is soft hearted and not expecting this level of brutality. The cat is then chased off to never return again...
If no other cats are around, an unaware newcomer may wander outside, get lost and is frightened until eventually being picked up by a predator...
Tips for acclimating a cat to the farm
1. Patience, give the cat several weeks to adjust to the new life
2. Clan membership, introduce the cat to the local cats in a safe manner
3. Make sure the cat knows it's new home and access to everything it had before
4. Give the cat a safe area to escape, when predators come around
The cats all live in a barn shed, that is used for chickens and various other farm activities.
The first thing to do is to give the cat a starting location. In this case, a cage is where they will spend the next two weeks. This cage serves two purposes, a point of return and a place to be recognized by the cat clan.
This is no different than adopting a kitten or cat into domestic indoor living. Generally the veterinarian will recommend a bathroom or utility room, to leave the cat for a few weeks before allowing them to explore the rest of the home. It's instinctual that the cat have a starting location, place to return with food, water and litter. This process can be restarted with a cat each time and they understand after some time.
The cat clan will spend the next several weeks intimidating and hissing at the cat. This is all part of the territory and is natural. However, since this is also the place where they regularly eat and drink, they have little choice but to accept this new stranger into their life.
After a few days to a week, the cats will sometimes touch noses, which is a sure indicator that they are making progress.
Expect some scared reactions, cowering and various episodes of frantic action. The new cat is safe behind the cage and will be ready to join the clan soon enough. Unfortunately in our experience it almost always results in the cat starting off as their lowest ranking officer.
Allow the other cats in
After a couple of weeks, leave the cage open. This almost always results in the other clan members, the ones willing to accept the new stranger, to come in and eat their food and drink their water.
The clan leader(s) don't typically go in at this point. The lower ranked cats will make their way in and almost always accept this new cat into their clan.
Remove all options
The new cat will now need to eat and drink at the designated cat feeding station. This will generally result in the occasional hissing and pawing, but nothing at all dangerous to the newcomer. The cat will learn its place and perhaps eat after the others or eat the furthest bowl from the group.
We leave out multiple bowls for this reason, so they can work out their issues on their own.
We also remove the litter box, which has mixed results. Either the cat will go outside or leave a mess, but they will eventually catch on and start to go outside.
Encourage the cat
This transition starts off a bit rough for the cat, but acknowledge the new life for the cat. Pet them along with the others and make sure the cat understands that they are being granted additional freedoms from this point on. Let them know that they are an important part of the farm and now have responsibilities.
Loner to land owner
It may take several months from this point for the cat to find its way, but eventually they will be happy again. This is not something that will happen quickly, but we've found that our cats have taken to each other, no matter how different big or small they might be.
The clan leaders may never accept the new cat into the clan, but won't harm them, which is most important.
A little more about farm/barn cats
Farm cats take care of the rodent population on farms, which includes rats, mice, moles, small rabbits and other burrowing vermin. This is especially important to prevent large amounts of erosion in an area and can serve as a crucial farm animal for this reason.
However, the growing number in cats is solely responsible for the extinction of rare birds, so be wary that good farm cats should be neutered/spayed to prevent overpopulating an area.
Farm cats are typically 2 to a farm (for the farmers that I've spoken with), which means we're about 3 over with a total of 5. What does this mean for the ecosystem? We don't have a lot of small birds in the area, so I wouldn't put that past them.
Farm cats do not have a long life expectancy, so we've been able to keep the farm at 5 cats as some have passed away, in which there always seems to be a new one lined up by a friend or family member. Keep in mind that there are many dangers at the farm including murderous feral cats, coyotes, other farm animals and roadways.
We hope this helps you and any cats who may otherwise spend their final days in a cage.