Barn cats -- do farmers really value them?
We visited a farm yesterday with my daughter's preschool class. The big hit in the barn was not the goats, sheep, pigs or cows -- it was the kittens. There was one young kitty mom nursing tiny kittens in a small carrier. There were about 5 older kittens (maybe 5 weeks old) running around and every once in while a different mom would plop down in a carrier to nurse those kittens.
These cats were so sweet (even the mom) -- it is amazing to me that the cat would sit and nurse the kittens with no less then 30 young kids running around her.
Anyhow, I found it kind of amazing that the farmer made a big deal about how to handle the goats and other animals but never mentioned the kittens. Little kids everywhere where grabbing these tiny creatures and fighting over them.
I asked the farmer about them and he said something like the female kittens will go on to be moms in the barn. I asked "do you get the males fixed?" and he just laughed and said no.
I found it kind of unsettling. I understand that farmers like cats in barns to kill mice but can't he go get some un-adoptable shelter cats instead of having kittens all the time? I am sure that, unlike the farm animals, these cats don't get vet care (a few of the kittens had some really yucky stuff coming out of their eyes). They were a huge attraction for the kids.