Letters: 11/99

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Barn Cats Need Care, Too
I’d like to suggest a future article on the care of farm cats. Most stables provide decent care. If they don’t, it may be a matter of education. Some farms don’t realize that “working cats,” if not properly vaccinated, can be a conduit for rabies. You’d provide a much needed service to dispel such myths as “unfed, hungry cats are better mousers.”

-Dr. Gwen Newman
DePere, WI

Although our purpose isn’t to discuss cat care, we do want stable owners to understand that most typical barn-cat problems are due to a lack of care. Perennial litters of ill kittens are usually due to non-vaccinated, malnourished mothers. Over-population is due to the obvious lack of neutering/spaying.

Unfriendly cats and rodent problems can be the result of not feeding barn cats. Hungry cats will hunt mice in the field where it’s relatively easy pickings rather than wait one out that’s hidden behind a tack trunk.Well-fed cats tend to stay around the barn, have the energy to devote to chasing unwanted pests and tend to understand who’s giving them food.

Consider the cost of taking care of cats as a prevention against the damage done by rodents. Bags of dry cat food can be delivered right along with your horse feed. Veterinarians will often vaccinate barn cats at minimal charge when they come to do your horse, and there are many animal-friend groups who offer low-cost spaying/neutering for situations such as with barn cats.

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Recommendations Work
I want you to know I have followed many of your recommendations and have never been disappointed. Corta-Flx has been a miracle for my 17-year-old Thoroughbred — and I’ve been through the Cosequin, Adequan and Legend routes and have discontinued all of them. Unbelievably, the Corta-Flx is working better than anything. When I mentioned this to my alternative/acupuncture vet, he said he’s had many such reports. We’ve even put our very old dog on it with good results.

-Donna Warner Coughlin
New Canaan, CT

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Good Clipper Hints
I own Oster Clipmaster Bodyclippers which, after suffering with poorly maintained clippers, are one of my prized positions (there’s nothing worse than clippers that don’t work). I’d like to share tricks I’ve developed to make clipping easier.

I’ve found that ear plugs and safety glasses solve the problem of frayed nerves due to too much noise and hair in the eyes. I’ve also found that blades tend to last longer and run cooler if, when I begin clipping, I loosen the wing nut that controls the blade tension (it sits on the top of the clipper head), do a test cut and increase the pressure on the blades just enough so I get a clean cut. Tightening that wing nut any more increases the work the clippers do, which builds heat and dulls blades. By doing this I can clip a whole horse without the blades ever getting hot.

-Sarah Chantry
Middleburg, VA