Watching another set of barn cats at my daughter’s riding stable, the Walking Horse Farm, the experience is proving that it isn’t wise to generalize.
These cats are young, around 6 to 8 months and just coming into sexual maturity. The fumbling, testosterone riddled adolescent males are harassing one female—their sister. She isn’t acting like a cat in heat—quite the contrary, she is fighting them off at every turn.
They approach her one at a time, sniffing and biting at her scruff. She roles onto her back in a defensive posture, hissing and growling, kicking with her claws out. Eventually one male will give up and another will take a turn bullying her.
At Harlinsdale Farm, Bill Harlin observed that the three resident Toms will kill the male kittens. As horrible as that sounds, it may be nature’s effective way of curbing sibling incest (something that happens with indoor litters that aren’t neutered soon enough. The results are not pretty.)
Getting these boys fixed would turn them into their sister’s allies, relieving everyone of this relentless pursuit. Getting her fixed would stop an onslaught of roaming Toms that catch her scent as she comes into heat.
“Would you like it if I took the barn cats in to be fixed?” I approach the riding instructor quietly.
Relief floods her face. “You would do that? Really?” Followed by an outpouring of gratitude and explanations about why she is unable to do it herself. “They really aren’t my cats. I feed them, but they just show up here and I can’t afford to take them to the vet. I tried taking one before but the bill was outrageous after all the tests and everything they wanted to do. I’m just scraping by doing all that for the horses. I can’t take on the cats too.”
I explained about the Wilson County Humane Society that does free feral spay/neutering, and some local low cost spay neuter programs. I will do some research to determine the right program for this situation and come back for the cats.
That poor little silver tabby haunts me. I have to take care of her immediately.
***Note: Why start Trap-Neuter-Return on these cats and not the cats at Harlinsdale Farm? I don’t think that the timing is right for the owner to be receptive yet. But it is certainly on my mind.
Preview of Coming Attractions
Over the next several months, I will be traveling across the country in search of cat stories, visiting innovative cat rescues and shelters, interviewing eccentric cat lovers, leading vets and behaviorists and so much more. To view my travel schedule and learn more about my Cat Behaviorist business, please visit http://www.thecatbehaviorist.com/ . If I will be in your area and you feel you have some interesting cat stories to share, please don't hesistate to contact me via my website.