14 January 2011

Home Veterinary Practice

The pussycats are all champion hunters. At this moment we have one lying in wait under the bird feeder and two more sitting in the big apple tree for an aerial assault. Their abilities are wondrous for keeping our mole and vole population to a non-destructive minimum and their avid winter birding scares the winged beasts off the garden once we cease feeding in spring. Yes, our cats are working farm cats.

We never intended to have as many as we do but now that we have them I'm not certain I'd want fewer. They are fascinating to watch as a group (the dynamics are completely unlike having two or three) and they earn their keep. Sadly, though, their job description comes with a few pitfalls. Most commonly worms and ticks.

We buy our (excellent) veterinarian a new horse each year with what we pay to treat 9 cats and 2 dogs for ticks, anual exams, and fecal floats. Sorry about that last image but it's part of the package. MamaCat still refuses to see a doctor so she doesn't cost us anything. At this point I think I can reasonably well diagnose their common illnesses so I have begun to do some of the animal's vetting myself.

Yesterday you read about my learning how to deal with chicken feet in an emergency. I've also learned how to give vaccinations ($4 per shot from the Humane Society) and am deworming the animals with human-labeled Pyrantal. A pint of the stuff from Lambert Vet Supply costs the same as two doses from the vet, though syringes are extra. The veterinarians on staff there have worked out the dosages for all relevant species so it's as easy as a phone call to get accurate information. I expect that one bottle to save us a hundred dollars or more this year.

What I haven't come across is a good tick preventative. Frontline and it's clones only work for about ten days around here and then we're back to tick city on the cats. The chickens do a great job eliminating the monsters near the house but they don't range far into the woods. If any of you folks out there have a safe and effective solution I'd love to hear about it. The new meds my veterinarian suggested would cost us $200 a month (!) just for the cats.


Lausanne said...

The solution to too many ticks....is to get more fowl! Specifically, get guinea hens who are keen eyed beauties that have a voracious appetite for ticks in particular...Our modest flock of three have gradually endeared themselves to the rest of the fowl population around here ( though they did prefer sleeping in the trees rather than in the henhouse for a good while this summer). They are great guardians of the hens, alerting all and everyone to any intruders with their raucous screeches. They require a daily handful of bird seed to maintain and their feathers are a fascination of polka dots in varying sizes to create their finely textured gray gowns. They remind me of busybody nuns in traditional habit as they sternly strut about. Never a dull moment when they are about!

Mrs. Fuzzy said...

I wonder if I could establish a flock in the forest.