Talk to me about farm cats..

Discussion in 'Working and Companion Animals' started by DatacomGuy, Dec 6, 2016.

  1. DatacomGuy

    DatacomGuy Active Member

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    Have zero experience with cats, AND half the household (including me) is extremely allergic, so cats being indoors is not an option.

    Want to get some cats to roam the property to keep rodents away. Don't have a problem, yet - but would like to be proactive. Plus, our kids really want some cats too.

    So having no experience - how does one get cats that will stay at home, outdoors, AND be friendly to the kids? :nanner:
     
  2. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you want multiple cats, you may be able to get a litter from the HS or other shelter. Sometimes shelters do not allow you to turn them into barn cats, though. Some won’t even let you take a cat as an indoor/outdoor cat. In that case, call around and find a farmer with cats. They usually have multiples and would be happy to let you take a couple.

    If you want the cats to last, get them vaccinated. If they are hunting mice you also need to periodically kill the tapeworms they are getting from the mouse fleas. If you are going to have them neutered, wait until they are half grown so they grow properly. Full grown is best, but you might end up with a litter of kittens if you wait too long to spay a female.

    Even a hunter may need to be fed. Our last cat was a great hunter, but never ate his prey, so he always needed to be fed.

    As to teaching the cat(s) to stay at your place, you can keep them confined for a few days, three seems to be the magic number. Feeding them goes a long way in making them stay. Having your kids pet them helps too, unless they are feral. For allergies, get vitamin C supplement. From a health store, the Kmart/Walmart brands are less potent. Start with 500 mg and see if that doesn’t take care of the runny eyes and noses.
     

  3. Raeven

    Raeven Reluctant Adult Supporter

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    Maura gives excellent advice and I agree with all she has shared.

    I keep anywhere between 2-4 full-time outdoor cats in the wild. I feed them daily and I think that's important. They're all good hunters, but hunting requires a lot of energy.

    The wilderness is hard on cats as prey, so accept from the outset that you're going to lose a few. I have one that's been around for 12 years -- a survivor, she is. Also the sweetest and friendliest. I have another that's been around for 6 years. I just recently lost his sister, not sure to what. She's just stopped coming around. But in my area there are cougar, bear, fox, coyote, raccoon, possum, skunk... many predators for kitties. OTOH, the third sibling of that litter disappeared 5 years ago -- and it turned out he'd just moved to the neighbor's place across the way. I guess the cat food was better. :)

    My cats are interactive with humans on their own terms. They always come around for their meals, and that's the easiest way to keep them "tame." But if cats live outdoors full time, they're always going to be partially feral -- meaning not inclined to sit in laps or subject themselves to being carried about. That doesn't mean your kids can't have a relationship with them. They'll just have to work harder at it. And they may learn about the business end of cats the hard way a few times. That's ok. Life isn't safe -- a good lesson, best learned early. ;)

    Cats have an unfailing sense of direction to and from their food bowls. My late mother-in-law used to put butter on her cats' paws when she first got them, believing that it helped them find their way home. But I suspect that was an unnecessary step. I once had a cat get away in the middle of a move across the country. The booger escaped from an open car door as we were moving a suitcase and before we'd had the chance to secure him. We were staying somewhere he'd never been, and I didn't think we'd ever see him again. Spent the whole night calling and searching. No joy. Next morning, however, there he sat at the door, yowling to be let in.

    Absolutely be sure to get them fixed, worm and keep up their shots as required. You'll endure a periodic rodeo, but it's important for their well being. Might be easiest if you can find a mobile vet who will come to you to administer care. At the least, invest in some heavy duty gloves and coat so as to minimize your contact with them when this must be done.

    They are wonderful for rodent control, the best there is! Unfortunately, you also get excellent bird and other-small-animal control. They will destroy the other small wildlife populations within their range.

    I recommend you always keep at least two. They'll keep each other warm at night and watch each other's backs.

    Hope it all goes well! Be sure to return and post kitty pics. :)
     
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  4. mzgarden

    mzgarden Well-Known Member

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    Agree with all the above. We were acquired by our barn cats - neighbor found a momma and her kittens on his property. Next thing we know, she transported them to our barn. We kept Momma and 2 girls, found homes for the others. All were spayed. Had to rehome one girl as she developed a problem requiring special food and oversight. Tech at the vet took her home - she was a sweety. Last two because wild Momma left kittens on our son's property. We got the boy (yay) and the sickly girl (oh goody). Sis has been spayed and after several rounds of antibiotics and lysine = is healthy. Boy goes for his snip next week. Cats are offered food in bowls in a barn stall in the morning and then again evening. No uneaten food is left out so we avoid attracting raccoon and possum - yuck. Some days they eat more and some less. They have all been socialized so we can at least catch them if they need medical care.
     
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  5. DatacomGuy

    DatacomGuy Active Member

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    Thanks so much guys, really appreciate it!! Great info. I think my kids will be bummed they won't be indoors as pets - but they do serve a purpose and keeps the allergies at bay.

    I need to research the Vitamin C thing!
     
  6. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Well-Known Member

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    Contact a trap-neuter-release group and say you have room on a farm for X fixed outdoor cats, perhaps a feral mom and her friendly kittens. Tell them what your needs are. TNR will have done the vet work for you and are ALWAYS looking for places to relocate semi-feral cats to an outdoor environment. Literally all they do is catch cats, fix them, and let them back out into the wild, either where they found them or somewhere new. None of the hassle of rescues going "*GASP!* You wanna let your ANIMAL go OUTDOORS!?!?!?!?!?1!/!?".
     
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  7. CountryMom22

    CountryMom22 Well-Known Member

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    I did as Choclatemouse suggested. The TNR group delivered a colony of six spayed females, up to date on their shots, including rabies, a 20# bag of cat food and 2 tubs of kitty litter. These cats never became friendly, but they knew their job. My job was to feed them and they keep the rodents under control.

    But if you have people with allergies to cats, why not look into a Jack Russell terrier. They are great with rodent control but could be a pet as well. Just an idea.
     
  8. secuono

    secuono Well-Known Member

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    Check Craigslist, in VA, there is a group that posts feral barn cats for free regularly. They are fixed and UTD on shots.
    I need them, but they would get run over on our road...so I'm stuck with using bucket traps. =/
     
  9. wiscto

    wiscto Well-Known Member

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    Outdoor cats were fine for me. I could even be in the barn where they slept for a couple hours, due to the air flow, without feeling anything, but I guess I should add that I didn't live there, I just spent most of the summer there and spent the night quite a bit. If I petted them, I just washed hands and blew my nose, preferably a shower if I needed one anyway. But have some allergy meds on hand just in case. Keep dirty cloths in the garage or something if you think that amount of dander will still be a huge problem for your family. Bring the cloths in, wash, use extra rinse cycle, stay on top of your lint trap. I know everyone knows this, but I feel like they underestimate the value. Vaccuum every other day. Sweep and/or mop. Your mission in life is getting all sources of dander out of your house.

    Be prepared emotionally, barn cats are common road kill victims. Some will live a long time. Some won't. Some of them will cry at the back door at certain times of the day because they want attention or want to come in. Some will go feral or just very independent and catching them to bring them in for annual shots will be a task and a half.
     
  10. barnbilder

    barnbilder Well-Known Member

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    My best experiences in cats for the barn have been with litter trained, but not declawed rescues. Start them in the house or an outbuilding and let them gradually learn their area. The barn cats seem to really want to wander, and they might be successful mousers, but set up shop at your neighbors place. I have had good results from having a large neutered male and a spayed female. The female usually turns out to be the hunter, the male just lays around, but his presence seems to keep the feral cats away. They seem to come around if you have a female, even a spayed female. My males always seemed to be territorial enough to run off the strays. Strays can be bad news. Killing small poultry, peeing in all the wrong places, trying to get rabbits through cages, eating nipples off lamb buckets, pretty much a scourge.

    I dread trying to replace the ones I have, now with all the silly regulations imposed by the rescue places.
     
  11. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Well-Known Member

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    barnbilder, just reach out to a TNR group. Trust me. They are NOT fussy. Just had a TNR help with a cat problem in my suburb. Mama cat and two kittens next door. There used to be 3 kittens but my dog ate one that was in my fenced yard. So I contacted a TNR.

    They took the kittens away to new homes because they were very people friendly, but they fixed the mother cat and put her back where she was. She's out there right now. No house, my neighbor feeds her sometimes, but she's on her own in Ohio in the winter. And they put her back there on purpose. We're even in a suburb where that's technically not really legal.

    TNR groups are part of a unique group of people who see the animal overpopulation problem and realize that there's not enough people who want these cats. They also know that the cats get by just fine on their own. They actually WANT to put fixed cats back outdoors because a fixed cat in a territory is better than an unfixed cat in a territory. They're not fussy about the cats living spaces. And they have a bigger impact on feral cat populations than rescue or shelters, even kill ones, ever have.

    Sometimes they get told they can't put groups of feral cats back where they found them though. (An example being, someone who purchases a piece of land with a junkpile, cats live in the junkpile, and they want to use the land for something other than a junkpile filled with cats... So the cats have to go.) But they know in a shelter the cats are just going to be put down. So they find them farm homes, outdoor homes, feral-friendly homes specifically. Basically a place with land for them to live on and a place they can get out of the rain/snow, maybe someone who would put out food once in a while. That's it.

    I adore TNR people. They're so great to work with. :) You should give them a call if other rescues are giving you a run around.
     
  12. gila_dog

    gila_dog Well-Known Member

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    Where I live barn cats don't last long because the coyotes get them. If you do get cats for your barn expect to lose a few, but, unless you only have neutered cats, also expect them to start reproducing and going feral. What makes cats friendly to humans is being fed and petted. If they are outside all the time the petting will probably suffer. Then they get wild. What's wrong with feral cats? They kill a lot of birds. Also, since they are very hard to catch keeping them vaccinated for rabies will be about impossible. Sure, they eat mice and rats, which is good. But they will also kill lots of birds and baby rabbits. Some people love cats more than anything so they will turn a blind eye to that. But it's reality. So is rabies.
    https://www.cdc.gov/features/dsrabies/
     
  13. mnn2501

    mnn2501 Dallas

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    No offense, but who cares? They also kill vermin which is why farms need them. They earn their keep.
     
  14. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Well-Known Member

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    Well, the ecosystem cares, but at the same time, the fact is that domestic cats are non native invasive and are here to stay for the time being. Getting rid of them is going to be pretty much impossible... Like getting rid of European earthworms. The best you can do is damage control in the most sensitive areas. And damage control does not include excluding cats from every location.

    Non native invasive species control, especially for moderately sized animals (IE, not rodents, frogs, bugs etc.), consists mostly of making sure that non-breeding adult populations exist. Which an outdoor, fixed and vaccinated, semi-feral cat is perfect for. A fixed cat still does what cats do, but is making it so that reproduction of MORE cats in that territory is impossible. If you DON'T put a fixed feral cat in, there's a real chance that a non-fixed feral cat will move in anyhow. If you take that cat out, another will just come to fill the ecological void.
    Look at Muscovy duck control in FL. They're finding the most effective means to reduce Muscovy populations in FL is not to kill them or destroy nesting sites or relocate them, but to find nesting sites and replace real eggs with fake ones, causing the hens to stay on the nests for long time periods without producing fertile offspring. Doing anything else just opens that spot up for a new muscovy to move in.

    The same is true of cats. So get an outdoor cat if you want one. Just make sure it's a fixed cat and vaccinated to the best of your abilities. There's a real chance you're actually doing the ecosystem a favor by having it be a controlled situation as opposed to a breeding one.
     
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  15. gila_dog

    gila_dog Well-Known Member

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    I care. My own cats are are a good thing because they eat up rats and mice. They also eat up some song birds and quail, which is unfortunate. But I can keep them vaccinated against rabies. Feral cats, on the other hand, are more trouble than they are worth.
     
  16. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Well-Known Member

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    Lol, so you own indoor/outdoor cats but say not to get barn cats? Stop acting like you're somehow superior for this.
    Barn cats aren't that hard to vaccinate. If they're not hand-friendly just feed them in a dog crate every day for a week. Then when you need to get them vaccinated, just don't feed them for 2 days and switch out the dog crate for a hav-a-heart. Then put cat food in the hav-a-heart. Soooo much effort. :p You can get cats 3-year titer shots for rabies and they're fine, so it's not even like it's a yearly ordeal.
    In any case, raccoons spread far more rabies than dogs, cats, or pretty much anything else (except bats)... And having a feral cat in an area can help to keep coons away, not to mention completely feral cats who won't have ever gotten a rabies shot. So again, you're just swapping out one rabies risk for another. It's not like you're going to stop the disease just because your cat is vaccinated.
     
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  17. Nathanaf8388

    Nathanaf8388 Well-Known Member

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    Funny thing is your greatest risk for rabies is from bats in my state. According to my state website a cat hasn't been diagnosed with rabies in over 30 years in Indiana.
     
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  18. gila_dog

    gila_dog Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for acting superior. I see that's your role in this discussion. I think my caution about rabies is well founded, at least where I live. We've had rabies outbreaks in my area, mostly involving foxes. This is very wild country with lots of wildlife and few people. A friend of mine, and his whole family, had to undergo rabies shots after playing with a dog at a party that soon came down with rabies. Where did it catch the disease? Who knows, probably from having been in contact with some wild animal that was infected. But the owners were lazy and careless, didn't have their dog vaccinated, and put a bunch of people at risk. I'm a bit more spooked by rabies than others on this thread, so I will keep my dog and cat vaccinated, and will try and keep other potential carriers like feral cats and skunks from hanging around my place. If that makes me look ignorant or "superior" then so be it.
     
  19. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Well-Known Member

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    I see. Pointing out that outdoor/barn cats aren't that hard to vaccinate = acting arrogant. Telling people that "My own cats are are a good thing" while also heavily implying that other people's feral cats ("What's wrong with feral cats?" *insert list*) are a bad thing = not arrogant.

    Check. Noted. My B. Lesson learned. Looks like I got served. How bad of me to act so superior! XD
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Nathanaf8388

    Nathanaf8388 Well-Known Member

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    Instead of bickering I will tell you my course of action for obtaining a new car. Multiple options here.
    Start looking in Craigslist there is always someone with a 4 month old (insert any age) that has been around kids and is used to humans set up a spot in the barn a cage preferably for a couple weeks. Feed it in the same spot in that cage after a couple weeks start letting it out but always feed it in the cage as it grows in age feed it less an over fed cat doesn't eat mice and likely won't even kill them just play with them and let them run off. When rodents are an essential part of their diet they tend to hunt a little harder. Find a low cost spay neuter clinic they usually run specials in and around February around here you can walk in with a non fixed unvaccinated cat and walk out with a spayed/neutered vaccinated cat for well under 100$ let the kids feed them from time to time and maybe give them treats on top of it. I usually post and ad saying "looking for a young cat" in the subject I say something like; looking for a young cat preferably altered and vaccinated must be short haired and willing to pay a rehoming fee for an altered vaccinated cat

    you'll be surprised the response you will get.
    Any car younger than a few years will adapt easily to outside if given the opportunity.
    Have a good day and keep me updated.