Raising Barn Cats

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by glenberryfarm, Apr 14, 2006.

  1. glenberryfarm

    glenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Hi, we had several barn cats years ago. They were adults when we got them and knew their thing.
    It has now become very apparent that we need barn cats again. I have a very healthy and well-fed herd of mice living amongst our critters.
    I have the chance to get a couple of female kittens for free next month.

    I wondered, when they are still so small and kept inside the barn do you have to do the litterbox thing?
    Any helpful hints would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Tiffin

    Tiffin Well-Known Member

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    We had two barn cats that just showed up, probably dropped off. One obviously got sick and disappeared (suspect someone poisoned it). The other one still hangs around. I give it a little cat food and powdered mix milk each day. I do not do the litter box however we did find that he used the barn as a litter box during the winter; did not want to go outside. I wasn't too happy about this because it stinks worse than the cows and goats, however, he goes outside now to do his business. I think if you start the litterbox you may be stuck with it forever more; I didn't want to do that. By the way I rarely see a mouse and he eats pigeons that DH shoots off the silo.
     

  3. Boleyz

    Boleyz Prognosticator, Artist

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    The key to having a good mouser is not to feed the cat too much or too often. Even weaned kittens will natuarally begin to hunt if you don't make things too easy on them. Sounds cruel in our modern, "Animals are people" world. Trust me, if you feed them constantly, they'll be fat and lazy and stay under your feet..just like your kids...

    By the Way, I'm not saying starve them, but if they are a little hungry, they'll find ways to fill the void...
     
  4. Marilyn in CO

    Marilyn in CO Well-Known Member

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    Litter box, not necessarily, but of course you will have cat poop wherever they feel like it. :) Been there done that. I'm dealing with barn cats now, I really like the fact that I have no mice but durn it those felines can make quite a stink. In fact, our two mamas decided to have their kittens in our farm pickup bed lining. Seems there were some dessert plate size holes in the bed liner that gave access to dark secure places. Unbeknownist(is that a word) to the farmer, he took 8 kittens to town with him the other night and then spent the night taking the tool box and bed liner loose to retreive the little cuties. Oh yes, don't leave your windows down on vechicles in the barn, they like to poop in there too. :nono:
     
  5. dragonflyz9C

    dragonflyz9C Well-Known Member

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    We have a super duper mouser... she is an inside outside cat though. She has been liter box trained since we first got her at 8 weeks. I like to leave a box for her in the pole barn and she has one in the house of course. We don't have the smell and the litter isn't that expensive. I don't think she uses it all the time, but I'm sure it helps... at least in the buildings.

    As far as feeding them? Our cat always has access to a supply of food and she still hunts. I have read that it is a wive's tale about keeping them hungry... at least with our cat.

    She is fixed too. I think that helps her behavior and we don't want a million kittens around.

    They sure are nice to keep the mice at bay.
     
  6. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Be sure to get your kitties spayed when they are old enough, otherwise you'll be overrun with barn cats! :goodjob:

    We adopted three kittens from the local rescue service to use as barn cats. At first we kept them shut inside the tack room when we weren't at the barn and we had a litterbox in there. Once they became used to the barn we let them have the run of the place. Two of them came to the house and one of them refuses to leave the barnlot. She is a great mouser. So is one of our house cats who has taken up residence in the barn. They no longer have a litterbox and it's never been a problem as they have access to the outside. We give them some dry food once a day and they are fat and happy. Haven't seen sign of a mouse since we got the three kittens (can't give credit for that to the deserters though...they lounge around the house 24/7).
     
  7. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Forget the spaying, The cats usually run off, are killed off by something. We have 3 or 4 families of cats that hang out around the property they come and go, they are not fed, they have kittens, they are killed by neighbor dogs, fox and other critters.
     
  8. GoldenMom

    GoldenMom Well-Known Member

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    For goodness sake, SPAY THE CATS! And preferably get them vaccinated. You will be much happier with 2 fixed, healthy kitties than the 30 snotty nosed, scruffy cats you will surely have if you don't spay the kittens.

    I would say that you don't need a litter box unless you are keeping them confined until they get used to your barn. There are definately pluses to keeping them confined for a little while right after you get. They will be more social (ie you will be able to catch them if need be) and they will be more likely to bond to your homestead and know it is home. I had a couple of kittens to live in the barn where I used to live and I just let them go right from the start. Wasn't able to do anything with them later on. My latest kitties I kept confined and handled them a lot. They are very nice easy to handle kitties, but aren't bad about getting under foot.
     
  9. DirtDobber

    DirtDobber Member

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    It is also really nice to have the barn cats to keep the mice out of your house...until I had barn cats, every fall or winter when it got cold, my house would be overrun with field mice...nasty smelly creatures...
     
  10. crystalniche

    crystalniche Well-Known Member

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    We have adopted an abandoned spayed female adult cat. To say she is plump is a gross understatement. But~~~she has made it her life's pleasure to keep all mice, rats, chipmunks and snakes away from our place. She is now living inside only as we are spending a lot of time caring for an elderly relative and she is here with us. She came here to clear out all the mice from the basement which she did within a short time. She has food down in her dish 24/7 yet hunts down and kills vermin with a passion. I think that it all depends on the cat's personality and not on how much it is being fed. She has always been like this even tho her dish is rarely empty. I've known of cats who weren't interested in hunting at all even tho the farm they were on fed them only once in awhile. Most of those cats moved on over to the neighbors' houses where there were people who fed them. I think it all has to do with their prey drive.
     
  11. glenberryfarm

    glenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    I do plan to have them spayed. I don't want to be "the crazy lady at the end of the road with all those cats". :banana02:
    It has been quite a struggle to get DH to agree to cats in the first place-I don't want to push it.
     
  12. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    What about cold climates? We've considered getting a feral rescue or two for the barn but it's so darn cold here in the winter. Is an old sleeping bag enough or do they actually need some heat, like a heated kennel pad or something like that?
     
  13. Jillis

    Jillis Well-Known Member

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    Here in Zone 2 everyone has barn cats. They find ways to keep warm...
     
  14. MoonShine

    MoonShine Fire On The Mountain

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    I have outdoors cats...they usually come around as ferals. I have never lost a spayed/neutered cat...those are the ones that tend to stay around and stay out of trouble. My cats are great mousers...they eat cat food,but in moderation. Since there are usually wild cats around,they eat their share of it,too...not to mention the coons that eat the cat food. Who knows how much food each animal really gets...but they do a good job of keeping rodents away.
     
  15. mrglock27

    mrglock27 Well-Known Member

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    We got a couple "barn cats" a 2 years ago from some people a few miles down the road, at that time it looked like they had about 30. We went back a year ago and got a couple more and they had about 75-100. We've gone through about 8 cats in 3 years. The coyotes get them and they go live at other houses.
     
  16. glenberryfarm

    glenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Our old barn cats knew where the real heat was- next to family cow. She kept her water from freezing!
     
  17. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    I have three barn cats, momma and her two daughters. They are all spayed -- I think they live longer (if the coyotes don't get them! But we don't seem to get coyotes in real close here.). And I don't want to be having to find homes for kittens all the time.

    I feed them once a day, but the dish holds enough that they are pretty much free-feeding. The only problem with that is the free-loading strays that come in and help themselves. I'd feed them in the house, but Grandma has three elderly house cats, and they have a hissy fit (literally :) ) if the barn cats come in. Even with all the food they can eat, they still keep the mice population in check. I agree with the poster above who thought it was more the cat's prey drive that makes them want to hunt. Also, a momma cat with kittens is likely to start hunting to teach her kittens how to do it.

    My cats also get wormed, vaccinated, and treated for ear mites once in a while. When the kittens were little they were handled daily (my favorite part of doing chores was playing with the kittens!), and they are sweet and friendly.

    A couple of years ago I picked up a couple of metal frames free behind one of the local feed stores (we can get lots of pallets there, too). Covered with wire, one of them got turned into a chick pen, and the other became a kitty cage. Momma kitty had day-old kittens when she first came to me, and she raised them in that cage (with a litter box, until the babies were old enough to go in and out freely). It has a shelf so she was able to get away from the kittens when they got old enough to be pests. It's really nice to have a place to put the cats safely up if necessary -- and they don't mind going in there, since they were raised in it.

    Our outside cats ended up spending a good chunk of the winter on the front porch, which is not enclosed. We gave them several small shelters, like a box on it's side with a towel in it, a large flower-pot on it's side, and so on. These kept them out of the wind, and since they all three cuddle up together to sleep, they stayed warm just fine. But, it seldom gets much below zero here. In a colder climate, they would benefit from something like an indoor doghouse inside the barn, perhaps. But they do grow nice thick coats, and especially if you have a couple of buddies who will sleep together, they'll do just fine.

    Kathleen
     
  18. wvpeach1963

    wvpeach1963 WVPEACH (Paula)

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    naw , no litter box thing. Get thier shots/
    Feed them lean once a day and leave it to the old cats to teach them.
    You'll have new mousers before you know it.

    Feed them heavier in winter.
     
  19. crystalniche

    crystalniche Well-Known Member

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    When we had the horses and outdoor cats the cats preferred to sleep in the hay. We would provide warm beds for them in a dog house filled with hay or straw and a warm blanket on top of the straw. They loved it. We would find the cats cuddled up asleep in the dog house purring and all happy looking. Cats are notorious for finding the warmest place to sleep during the cold weather. That is why you bang on the side of your vehicle before starting it~~~to chase cats out of the engine area.
     
  20. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If your spaying, feeding and "keeping" the cat then its not a barn cat, just an outside cat. A barn cat belongs to no one, it lives and dies in and around the barn and nothing more.