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ARLINGTON – Almost every farmer has a couple of barn cats on his farm. Barn cats are even an integral part of the farm life cycle as they eat mice and other rodents or small animals that live in or around the farm buildings and fields. Cats prevent rodents from consuming or contaminating grain crops that are stored for human consumption.
A few cats on a working farm are an asset to any farm.
But when a farm has up to 20, 40, or even 70 wild barn cats, you have a serious problem.
This is the position John and Ruth Peabody of Duel Hollow Farm were in last spring when their cat population exploded. The beef farm has been in John’s family for generations, so he’s no stranger to barn cats, but with at least 35 different cats and many more not counted, he knew he had a problem.
In addition to raising cattle, he has a haystack in which he stores his hay. Unfortunately the barn was populated with cats, who spoiled the hay with urine and feces.
One of the Peabody’s well-meaning neighbors began feeding the cats, and eventually the cat population grew even more.
Peabody believes people started selling the cats because they thought they were wanted on his farm. While they appreciate what cats can do on the farm, the balance of power quickly shifted.
“There were an outrageous number of cats,” said Ruth Peabody. “Our farm had become a cat farm. That’s when we knew we had a problem, ”she added, adding that they gave away 15 kittens last summer alone.
The Second Chance Animal Center has been contacted about its TNR, or trap, neuter and release program, which is used to capture, spay and neuter feral cats that are later released. On Tuesday, March 9th, the cat coordinator, Santana Snyder, and the medical care coordinator, Molly Smith, set 35 trap and release traps around the farm. Each trap had a can of wet food and a blanket over the cage to protect the cats from the elements. Twenty of the traps cost nearly $ 700, which the center funded through generous public donations.
They returned early in the morning the next day and found that they had caught a total of 21 cats, consisting of 8 males and 13 females, all between 1 and 3 years old and weighing between 5 and 7 pounds.
The cats were then returned to the Arlington Animal Center to be neutered and neutered. The operations on the cats were carried out by Dr. Ray Koch and Dr. Bo Bergman, a volunteer. The cats were also examined and given a universal label indicating that they had been neutered or neutered.
Overall, the cats were in good health.
“I’m super excited that you are so healthy,” said Ruth Peabody.
Seven cats were returned to the barn while the others were adopted by seven different adopters who were specifically looking for barn cats. While most cats were adopted in pairs, one adopter took a single kitten who appeared to be affectionate. According to Smith, almost all wild cats were unfriendly, which is not uncommon for wild cats.
While catching produced a good result, there are more feral cats and the possibility of population growth is still an issue.
“This was a big one,” said Snyder, indicating that they might be back to catch more feral cats.
The center typically does at least half a dozen Trap Neuter releases per year. These range from large colonies of wild cats to neighborhood strays who need to be neutered or neutered to control the cat population.
The peabodies have instructed their neighbors not to feed the cats. While they are feeding their wild barn cats – the ones they want there, they don’t want other cats or native wildlife to live on their farm.