Cats are one of the best animals to have around the homestead. They have many different uses, they make great companions, and they’re easy to care for. Even if you’re not a “cat person” they’re still nice to have around. Do you have homestead cats? If you don’t, you should!
Cats are actually one of my favorite animals. I’ve had cats since I was a kid, and have even fostered orphaned kittens and cats. They’re super friendly, and great foot warmers. However, one of the best reasons to have a cat on the homestead is they keep the rodent population down.
Cats can also be companions to other homestead animals. Strangely enough our current cat Sofia loves to hang out with the chickens. She behaves herself with them, but not all the neighbor cats do. She keeps the neighborhood kitties out of her territory and away from “her” chickens!
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How to Care For Homestead Cats
Many domestic cats will be happiest if they’re allowed to come indoors with you. (If you want an outdoor only cat, it’s best to provide a home to a feral cat that would otherwise be put down.)
Caring for a cat is pretty simple. They need food, clean water, a litter box or cat door, and to be kept free from fleas and worms and diseases. They’ll be happy to sleep on your bed and play with simple toys. My first cat loved to play with the little plastic strip that came off of milk jugs!
They’ll also keep themselves entertained by hunting pests. This does expose them to some diseases, so it’s a good idea to vaccinate them as recommended by your vet.
Give Them Food and Water
You will need to feed your cat, even if you want them to catch rodents for you. Healthy, happy animals are much better hunters than hungry, sick ones. Most cats do well with dry food and you can even get a gravity feeder so it only needs refilled periodically.
Cats are very particular about their water and prefer to drink very fresh, moving water. If you have a neutered male it’s very important that he gets enough water. They can be susceptible to crystals in their urine when they get dehydrated.
Make Sure They Have Shelter
If your cats live indoors, they will have plenty of shelter. A cat door can be useful so they don’t accidentaly get stuck outside all night. If you have outdoor only cats they will need an outbuilding such as a shed, barn, or garage during foul weather. You can also make winter shelters for feral cats using straw and rubbermaid tubs. For more information about how to create a winter cat shelter click here.
Spay or Neuter Your Cat
If you are adopting a cat from a friend make sure it’s spayed or neutered. Cats multiply quickly, and they do attack native songbirds. Keeping the feral cat population down is best for the cats and other species as well.
It’s not very expensive, and kittens can be spayed and neutered when they are just eight weeks old and weight two pounds. Plus, it’s safer for your cat because they won’t be periodically wandering to look for a mate.
Keep Them Healthy
Prevent fleas with a product such as Frontline, or by manually combing them with a flea comb. There are a few vaccines for cats, such as rabies and feline leukemia that are a good idea to have. Also, cats can get worms just like goats and chickens, so the occasional vet check up is a good idea. If you are providing a home to feral cats, you’ll want to trap them when they need vet care.
Your Cat Will Need A Litter Box
Probably the top worry about cats is potential spraying or litter box smell problems. Having your cat spayed and neutered are the best way to prevent spraying. Some spraying can be an indicator of health problems, such as a UTI. (Make sure they have that fresh water!)
Luckily, keeping a cat litter box doesn’t mean that your home has to smell like cat! Cats prefer clumping litters to natural litters. Their natural tendency is to bury their refuse, and they like litter that allows them to do that.
They also prefer privacy. All of my cats do best when they have a covered litter box. You’ll also want to make sure you have enough litter boxes. If you have more than one cat, they may need their own box. I have one middle age cat who will chase our younger cat away from the box, so two boxes for them is essential.
Scooping a litter box is not my favorite job, but it doesn’t take long. Most cat litters are quite effective, and you can add powders into your cat box to help it last even longer between cleanings.
Here’s a cat urine remover that actually works.
In addition to my two cats, my family sometimes fosters kittens and strays. Kittens are adorable, but they’re not always perfect at making it to the litter box every time. These kittens move to new homes as pets, so keeping the floor clean so they don’t get confused is essential.
I recently found out about a nifty brand called OdorKlenz. They are an odor eliminator product that uses metal oxides to neutralize odors. They have a wide range of products that are specially formulated for specific odors. OdorKlenz graciously offered to send me their pet litter additive to try.
Their products are all safe to use around kids and pets, which is awesome. And they aren’t just masking bad smells with artificial fragrance, unlike many products. In fact, their tag line is “Clean has no odor,” which I love, since my husband is very particular about scented products.
The pet litter additive is sprinkled into your cat’s litter box and helps it stay non-smelly.You can also use it to clean up outside of the box as well. You just sprinkle the cat urine remover onto the accident and then sweep it up once the liquid is absorbed.
How To Reduce The Cat Litter Box Smell
When I received the pet litter additive I added it to the top of our clean litter boxes. One of my cats sometimes can be QUITE odoriferous. You should see her hightail it out of the box as soon as she’s done!
Since adding the OdorKlenz the post-usage odor has been distinctly reduced. I also have not had to scoop quite as frequently, which is nice for those busy days.
As my two adult cats don’t miss their box, I gave the cat litter additive a try in cleaning up in the bathroom. I’m sure anyone who has had a young son understands that sometimes around the base of the toilet can get a bit smelly.
I sprinkled the OdorKlenz around the base of the toilet and let it sit overnight. You don’t have to wait that long, but realistically, that’s how long it took me to get back to it… #momlife
I swept it up, and it definitely had absorbed some liquid, but incredibly enough it was completely odor free. It’s pretty amazing how UN-scented it was considering how damp the powder had become. OdorKlenz actually has absorbent granules specifically for this purpose. There’s no need to use super toxic cleansers in the bathroom when you can get it just as clean without them.
I bet this additive would be great in the chicken coop as well. I currently have a small free ranging flock, but will definitely adding this into the bottom of my chick brooder box this spring. OdorKlenz also carries laundry products that I’m sure would be great for all removing harder to eliminate farm smells (Like goat buck! And skunk! Yay, homesteading!).
OdorKlenz has quite a few products for many other uses and I’m highly looking forward to trying more. Cat litter box odor is very manageable as long as you have the right products and keep your boxes clean.
Should You Have Indoor or Outdoor Cats on Your Homestead?
There’s actually quite a bit of controversy over whether cats should live indoors or be allowed outdoors. If you have an indoor only cat, your cat will live longer and be exposed to fewer dangers. Indoor cats aren’t exposed to feline leukemia, and they aren’t at risk for getting hit by a car.
Cats who live outdoors can be lonely, and are more likely to have a short lifespan. Personally, my cats are indoor cats who are allowed to play outside during the day. They’re always spayed and neutered, so they don’t wander far, and I call them inside at night.
If you want an outdoor only cat, the best thing you can do is provide a home for a feral cat who would otherwise be put down. Cats are also very territorial, so keeping a barn cat on your property will discourage wild and stray cats from taking up residence.
If you do choose to keep a barn cat, having two is better than one, as they do enjoy companionship. There are programs for adopting feral barn cats all over the country. Check with a local animal shelter to find adoptable outdoor cats in your area.
When you first bring home barn cats you will need to keep them confined in a shed or garage for three weeks or they will simply try to return to their previous home. During this time, they will also learn to associate the sound of your voice with food. Some may even become semi-feral and allow you to pet them.
Cats are a great solution to pest control on the homestead. They are good hunters and decrease the rodent population. Even if you’re not a “cat person” or interested in an indoor pets you can provide a home for cats who would otherwise be put down.
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