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Adopting barn cats

Discussion in 'Other Animals' started by DustyBoot, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. Mar 8, 2018
    DustyBoot

    DustyBoot Loving the herd life

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    Not sure if I'm looking for advice, or just to document this process for posterity. Guess I'll take it either way! We're seeing significant evidence of mice, so getting barn cats has jumped from "yeah, we should look into that" to "can we pick some up tomorrow?" status. Last time I lived in the country, the house came with a barn cat and we had a couple more show up over the time we lived there. So I know they can be incredibly helpful, but finding one is new to me.

    Definitely want adult, outdoor-savvy cats, and we want them spayed or neutered because the last thing we need is a cat colony. The local animal shelter takes in feral cats and adopts them out as barn cats after taking care of basic medical needs, spay/neuter, and vaccinations. Free. I'd prefer friendly cats, but maybe they'll get used to us with time. The shelter recommends keeping the cats contained for the first two to four weeks while they acclimate. I've got a giant dog crate I'm setting up in the shed where we keep feed, tools, and other stuff, so that's the plan. Once we're ready to let them loose, I'm thinking we'll install a cat door up on the wall of the shed with a "front porch" platform in front of it. The theory is that the cats can jump to the platform and get in, but it will be harder for other critters to access. Seems worth a shot, at least.

    We have coyotes and bobcats and other critters around here, but my hope is that the LGDs create enough of a safety zone around at least the central area of the property that the cats will be ok -- plus there are lots of places to hide, and they'll have access to the shed. The LGDs are supposed to be cat-friendly, so that shouldn't be an issue.

    It's interesting to see ecosystems at work. We wanted the coyotes and bobcats and other small predators out, so we brought in our "larger predators" -- the dogs -- and it seems to have worked. We see the coyotes and bobcats around the perimeter of the property, but we haven't lost anything while the dogs have been around. Those dogs are worth their weight in gold, and I've been glad to solve the predation issue without any trapping or killing. We've just carved out our own little niche, and the wildlife can carry on around us without major disruption. But, getting rid of the coyotes and their ilk gives the small pests free reign. Mice, squirrels, rabbits -- we're seeing more and more of those. Time to replace the small predators with some of our own too. :)
     
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  2. Mar 8, 2018
    DustyBoot

    DustyBoot Loving the herd life

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    Well, we went to the shelter today. They have three barn cats for adoption and two were in surgery today, so we have to go back tomorrow. They won't hold them so there's always a chance someone else will show up and take them first. If that happens, well, there are always more feral cats out there so I doubt we'll be waiting too long. Ready to start waging war on these mice!
     
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  3. Mar 8, 2018
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    An old English lady once told me how to move cats. When you get them home, butter their paws. They immediately go through their entire grooming routine and relax and are “home”. Really, it works!
     
  4. Mar 8, 2018
    DustyBoot

    DustyBoot Loving the herd life

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    I've heard that one but never tried it! If these guys aren't too feral I'll give it a try, but if I'm going to get my arms shredded trying we'll just go the old-fashioned route with confinement for a few weeks. Or if they're tamer after the initial confinement period, maybe I'll try butter then.

    I have the crate set up with a litter box, water, food bowls, a small cat tower, and a cardboard box with a hole in it and some hay inside (somewhere to hide). That crate is enormous. My 5-year-old can stand up in it. After the cats are done with it, I figure it'll be good for transporting goats. Or if we have sick or injured crittter we need to confine or keep in the house. I plan to spend time with them while they're in confinement, talk to them, see if they'll get at least a little friendlier. They don't need to be lap cats, but it sure would be good if we can get to the point where we don't have to trap them if we need to handle them.
     
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  5. Mar 8, 2018
    RoahT

    RoahT Loving the herd life

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    My parents once had a barn cat when I was growing up that ran away and when we went to visit some folks that used to be our neighbors months later there he was! He had quickly turned from the friendly barn cat he was with us to a spoiled mean house cat. Well, when the old neighbors had to move to assisted living we got him back! Like 10 years later! He was such a mean old cat at that point that my dad had to use welding gloves to handle him, and us kids were terrified of him. After a few months though he was such a sweet cat and was great with kids. We were all so sad when he died! My dad's gentle, but in-charge-I'm-the-boss, handling worked wonders on him!
     
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  6. Mar 8, 2018
    Pastor Dave

    Pastor Dave True BYH Addict

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    We had barn cats and yah, they bred and had kittens. Didn't see mice or rats. Coyotes and dogs may have gotten some occasionally, but they "replaced" the missing. We fed them, but tried not to feed enough that they quit hunting. I think it would be impossible to keep feral cats in a crate more than a few days. If they could acclimate to the shed or barn, they would hang around I would think. Be interesting to see how things go for you.
     
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  7. Mar 8, 2018
    DustyBoot

    DustyBoot Loving the herd life

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    I had some friends growing up who didn't have their cats altered. They had dozens of cats around their house, and a few generations in the kittens were all deformed or had weird health issues and didn't live long. It wasn't pretty and not something I want to chance replicating. I think two cats should be enough, but if we need more we'll go back to the shelter.

    We'll see how the crate works. It's seriously huge. I'm thinking they stay in there for a while, then we give them the run of the shed for a while, then we install the cat door. Hopefully by then they'll be inclined to stick around between the rodents and the kibble.
     
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  8. Mar 8, 2018
    Pastor Dave

    Pastor Dave True BYH Addict

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    Sounds like a plan. I told my wife that when we get our own place/farm, I want some barn cats for the same reasons. Made me think abt spayed and neutered cats for sure!
     
  9. Mar 8, 2018
    MiniSilkys

    MiniSilkys Overrun with beasties

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    I have pen trained many stray cats. After a month of feeding them, they never wanted to go anywhere else.
     
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  10. Mar 8, 2018
    MiniSilkys

    MiniSilkys Overrun with beasties

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    I have plenty to spare!
     
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