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  #1  
Old 07/02/08, 09:57 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Western North Carolina
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keeping barn cats safe?

I've always had indoor cats. Last fall we built a barn (a huge home for mice), so we decided to get some barn cats. We got two adorable older kittens from the shelter. Just this morning, after only 10 months of living here, one of them was struck and killed by a car. We live on about 20 acres on a fairly busy road. Our property is backed up to hundreds of acres of forest. I was worried about coyotes, not so much the road. But I guess my fears weren't properly directed. Now what? Of course, I am worried about the remaining cat. Maybe I ought to fatten him up? Maybe he has to live in the house now? But what do other people with outdoor cats do?? Is this just an impossible situation?

Help!

Jennifer

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  #2  
Old 07/02/08, 10:09 PM
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Outdoor cats don't tend to live as long as indoor cats. There are greater risks. Coyotes, disease, and cars. Yet, despite these risks, some barn cats seem to survive a very long time. If you want cats in the barn, you will have to accept that they will be at greater risk than a house cat. If that is not acceptable, then yes, you will need to make the remaining cat into another house cat.

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Old 07/02/08, 10:12 PM
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The smart ones survive and mate with other smart ones, then teach their offspring. If you're going to let them be barn cats, that's just the way it works.

Once in a while we'll have a stray show up and have kittens. Generally they all decide to play chicken with the cows and get stepped on. The ones born of mothers that were raised here mostly survive.

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  #4  
Old 07/03/08, 12:08 AM
 
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We don't have a barn cat. We have an outdoor garage cat. She's been fixed, had her shots, and is litter box trained. She is fed and locked inside the garage every night. During the day, we put her food away and open the door. She gets every mouse, mole, frog, snake, crawdad coming and going. She's a hunter, but she stays almost exclusively on our property. She is a smart cat and knows to stay away from the road and highway. She'll soon be 4 yrs old. She actually thinks she's a dog.

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Old 07/03/08, 12:36 AM
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just like people, Darwins way,, the strong will go on and prosper,, the weak will loose out and the heard will become stronger. That is not his words but it is my way of thinking.
And from what I have delt with cats,,,, LOTS of dealiings! If you bring an establisted outside cat indoors he/she will be very teritorely inclined (spc) and they may be rough on your established indoor cats!
Leave them outside to do thier job, name them but do not kiss them goodnight.
good luck and (bite the bullet) Columbia,SC

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  #6  
Old 07/03/08, 02:12 AM
 
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I keep my cats in the buildings they are there to protect from vermin. I don't let them run loose. I never lose them to predators or to cars. If you let them run loose then they get killed. Not nearly fast enough unfortunately. Free ranging cats are a pestilence.

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  #7  
Old 07/03/08, 06:59 AM
 
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Just remember - barn cats are expendible - they make more all the time. They will learn to stay off the road or not survive. As for the coyotes - you can't really do much. I have 5 cats in the barn right now - the only one that leaves is the Tom. If he comes back, great, if somebody shoots him or a coyote has lunch - great.

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  #8  
Old 07/03/08, 07:03 AM
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Our last barn cat was 14 years old, the previous one was at least 10. Now we have 2 brothers who patrol the barn and nearby outdoor areas. They are free to go, but don't wander more than 100 feet from the barn.

Each of our cats has been neutered and is given a full range of shots including rabies and feline whatever virus. We worm them a couple of times a year. They get fed once a day, about half as much as the house cat with good quality cat food. We interact with them regularly, so they see us as friends, not enemies. We do this because they are an important part of our farm management.

By keeping them healthy, we do what we can to give them the ability to weather much of what comes their way. We once lost a kitten to the road, but we had a neighbour looking after the farm for a week, so we don't know exactly what happened. We have coyotes and racoons, but so far they haven't got any of our cats.

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Old 07/03/08, 07:07 AM
 
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Around here in the winter - it is nearly impossible to keep them from climbing into the warm engines of cars around here if the vehicles are parked in the garage....

Just so you know - check for kitties before starting your engine. If you don't, and cat is caught in the engine, it is a very bad thing...very bad.

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  #10  
Old 07/03/08, 07:24 AM
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We had a farm cat adopt us. Last fall she showed up on our property, I have no idea where she came from. She spent the winter living in our shed. She got along fine with our chickens so I didn't bother chasing her off, in fact she seemed to like hanging out with the chickens during the day. I haven't seen a mouse in the house or barn in months, she's done a great job. Unfortunately I haven't seen her in about a week, I'm hoping nothing bad happened to her. Someone mentioned that she might be somewhere having kittens, I'm hoping another family took her in. DH told me not to get attached but I can't help myself when it comes to animals, I was really fond of her.

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  #11  
Old 07/03/08, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by full sun View Post
Maybe he has to live in the house now?
you cant take every cat in the county into your house and put them on life support untill they reach 100 years of age. Animals die. Leave it alone.
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  #12  
Old 07/03/08, 07:45 AM
 
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We currently have two indoor/outdoor cats that have their own door that they use to come and go as they please. Both of them are fixed so there is no stinky spraying or surprise kittens. We also live on a busy highway that has claimed a cat or two of ours and we suspect that we have lost one to predators. We are sad when we lose one, but accept that it is sometimes going to happen. Even though they pretty much always have food available in the house, they still do a pretty good job of keeping the barn and garage (feed storage area) free of vermin. The only problem we have is the occasional dead or alive "presents" that they bring into the house.
Tom

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  #13  
Old 07/03/08, 07:48 AM
 
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We have had dozens and dozens of cats over the years and only ONE has died of old age. They run out of lives, for all they seem to have nine they are sooooo good at getting themselves killed.

Get a few more, and then a few more when the first few kill themselves off. If you have a number of cats you like to have around, just keep getting more to keep that number.

But do keep them fed and vacc'ed and handled (and spayed and neutered so you dont make more than you need) nothing is more upsetting than watching a cat suffer to death because you just cant catch the stupid thing

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  #14  
Old 07/03/08, 07:58 AM
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Your first mistake is "GETTING" kittens. Barn cats are not gotten, They just show up, that way there is no attachments. Now I love our indoor cat but the barn cats are on their own. They live and do there work, breed for the next generation of mousers and they die.

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  #15  
Old 07/03/08, 08:11 AM
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as others have stated, you can't protect a barn cat. When I lived on a ranch in Texas, we went through dozens - maybe a hundred barn cats over the years. Two made it into old age. One was a big fat furry neutured Tom named "Garfield" whose joy in life was delivering his catch of the day into my shoe on the porch and yowling about his triumph -and the other was a productive bob-tailed manx queen named "Bobby" who was a mouser-deluxe and produced a long-line of great mousers.

As others have said, the strong and the smart survive -the others don't. Its a sad reality but thats life in the wild.

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  #16  
Old 07/03/08, 08:24 AM
 
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I like to call our cats "working cats" like a working dog. That helps justify the vet bills each year. It also puts a value on them so people can't say they are feral. They have a job to do on the farm just like a cow dog would.

So they are livestock, you try to give them the best life you can but their work is outside and in the barn, NOT inside the house. I don't have any mice inside the house.

The garage pair have collars, the barn pair do not. The garage male likes to go on vacation each summer (temporary feral for a few months). The garage female is rarely seen more than fifty feet from the house. The barn cats cover a much bigger area.

All four are extremely friendly, except the garage tom when he is "on vacation." During those times we rarely see him hiding in the woods and hay field at the back of the property. He runs away from you if you call him.

Never loss any to the road. We don't have road frontage.

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  #17  
Old 07/03/08, 09:34 AM
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Thumbs up keeping barn cats safe

My family has cats in there barn and they dont have rarely over 1 injury.I guese the cats will find away to take care of them selves .All you need to do is give them attension.acually,I think you wont have to do anything.They will give them selves all of that.Just let them be cats.too much info.

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  #18  
Old 07/03/08, 09:48 AM
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You need to feed your barn cats as a well fed cat hunts much better than a hungry/starving cat. If you start feeding at a consistent time, they'll be there and you can put them in the barn for the night. I would venture to guess you may be rewarded in the morning with some remains of the night's work.

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  #19  
Old 07/03/08, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by soulsurvivor View Post
We don't have a barn cat. We have an outdoor garage cat. She's been fixed, had her shots, and is litter box trained. She is fed and locked inside the garage every night. During the day, we put her food away and open the door. She gets every mouse, mole, frog, snake, crawdad coming and going. She's a hunter, but she stays almost exclusively on our property. She is a smart cat and knows to stay away from the road and highway. She'll soon be 4 yrs old. She actually thinks she's a dog.
I do the same thing as soulsurvivor but with 5 outside cats. I did loose one to the road 2 years ago and it really broke my heart. I have also lost one to a coyote I think...So that is why I lock them up now at night. The do such an awesome job of hunting and they are all sooo friendly. At night (about an hour before sunset) I call them to come eat and they all come running. Their shed is well insulated and nice and cool in the summer and cozy warm in the winter...I heat it to just above freezing when it gets really cold. They have toys, blankies, beds, scratching posts and a hammock. Liter box too. Yes they are a little spoiled for barn cats but I love them dearly and they do a great job. If I were in the op's situation I would get at least one other cat to keep the other company. I always see flyers at the vet for already experienced barn cats. The humane society has them too. I do realize there is a risk with the road...so far they are happy to stay closer to the barn and in the hay field and grove.
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  #20  
Old 07/03/08, 10:52 AM
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Feed them every day in the evening and lock them in the barn for the night. The most productive hunter is the one who hunts for fun. Get them fixed.

I "educate" mine about cars. I bring them to the spot I think they are most likely to get in trouble at and I have DH or a friend roll up in a car and rev the engine and honk at them. Usually it takes once and then they scatter from where they know cars are going to be. I teach them roads are evil places, full of loud scary cars, water hoses and barking dogs who would chase them home (my old dog would chase the cats on the command "get that cat!!", I taught him just for that purpose, he later figured out it was his job to break up cat fights and run off stray toms) Bad things happen within 10 feet of the road but they are fed at home and there is plenty of hunting and laps there so they don't generally go far. As far as coyotes, lock them up from dusk till dawn. Your local bird population will thank you, the mice in the barn will not.

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