First Time Barn Kitty Questions

abraeri

Chillin' with the herd
Joined
Mar 12, 2019
Messages
24
Reaction score
25
Points
41
So we got two 8 week kittens from someone who trapped them in his backyard. Testimony of the trapper is they were 'real killers' so hoping for some mouse carcasses soon lol.

He sort of tamed them to being okay with human touch sometimes. I petted them the day we got them and they were fine, not exactly happy. We moved them down to the barn in their crate and next day they wouldn't let me pet them and one hisses if I come with anything but food. But will eat from my hand haha.

So I feed them wet food every morning and evening when I milk the goats and they have water available all the time. How long will it take for them to get used to this routine? I'm thinking of letting them loose in the barn to get a good feel for the place but am worried that they might bolt and not come back if they haven't formed a good routine. Our barn is not that big (12x14) and we have just 2 goats.

When we do eventually let them out, how would you put an opening for them to get in and out? We got two adults from a local TNR organization and they never came back to the barn (we would leave the door cracked open). And is 2 mths too young for a kitten to be out and about?

So many questions... looking forward to hearing your experiences!
 

drdoolittle

True BYH Addict
Joined
Oct 15, 2010
Messages
607
Reaction score
131
Points
213
Location
Saint Joe, IN
I keep my new barn cats in crates in the barn (with dry food, water, small litter box) for 4-6 weeks. I feed wet food 2x a day (about a tablespoon each). Once I let them out, it's only during the day and put them in their crates when they come for their evening wet food. I do that fir 2-4 weeks.

I think 2 months may be too young to let them stay out at night. I'd keep them in their crates at night (once the 4-6 week total confinement is up) until they are a bit older.

As for a way for them to get in and out, 3 of my barn cats have insulated houses in a covered dog kennel I use for hay storage. I put a piece of hog panel across the doorway upside down. They can go in and out, but the LGDs, mini horse and goats can't.

My other 2 barn cats have a shelf inside my mini barn with solid dog crates covered with tarps and stuffed with straw and still enough room for them to eat.
 

MtViking

Loving the herd life
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
219
Reaction score
824
Points
153
I just got my first barn cats as well. I’m allergic so I’ve never had a cat. We got a pair of 3 month old kittens. I’m doing the crate in our shed/barn. They’re pretty tame and like people. Is 4 weeks necessary in confinement? Can we let them out supervised? And does anyone have tips on making them good mousers or is that just going to come naturally. They seem pretty happy and the kids love em, but do we want to limit contact? Sorry totally new to having a barn cat. Or a barn for that matter haha.


I keep my new barn cats in crates in the barn (with dry food, water, small litter box) for 4-6 weeks. I feed wet food 2x a day (about a tablespoon each). Once I let them out, it's only during the day and put them in their crates when they come for their evening wet food. I do that fir 2-4 weeks.

I think 2 months may be too young to let them stay out at night. I'd keep them in their crates at night (once the 4-6 week total confinement is up) until they are a bit older.

As for a way for them to get in and out, 3 of my barn cats have insulated houses in a covered dog kennel I use for hay storage. I put a piece of hog panel across the doorway upside down. They can go in and out, but the LGDs, mini horse and goats can't.

My other 2 barn cats have a shelf inside my mini barn with solid dog crates covered with tarps and stuffed with straw and still enough room for them to eat.
 

MtViking

Loving the herd life
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
219
Reaction score
824
Points
153
So we got two 8 week kittens from someone who trapped them in his backyard. Testimony of the trapper is they were 'real killers' so hoping for some mouse carcasses soon lol.

He sort of tamed them to being okay with human touch sometimes. I petted them the day we got them and they were fine, not exactly happy. We moved them down to the barn in their crate and next day they wouldn't let me pet them and one hisses if I come with anything but food. But will eat from my hand haha.

So I feed them wet food every morning and evening when I milk the goats and they have water available all the time. How long will it take for them to get used to this routine? I'm thinking of letting them loose in the barn to get a good feel for the place but am worried that they might bolt and not come back if they haven't formed a good routine. Our barn is not that big (12x14) and we have just 2 goats.

When we do eventually let them out, how would you put an opening for them to get in and out? We got two adults from a local TNR organization and they never came back to the barn (we would leave the door cracked open). And is 2 mths too young for a kitten to be out and about?

So many questions... looking forward to hearing your experiences!
Sorry I’m not trying to hijack your post, I’m just in the same boat and have so many questions too. I hope you don’t mind.
 

abraeri

Chillin' with the herd
Joined
Mar 12, 2019
Messages
24
Reaction score
25
Points
41
No problem!
 

abraeri

Chillin' with the herd
Joined
Mar 12, 2019
Messages
24
Reaction score
25
Points
41
If you have a small barn, I let ours out of the cage in like one week so they could roam the barn (its pretty small - 12x14) and get used to the smells and animals. They prefer to sit in the hay. One started out as a hissy little boy and now he is the neediest thing ever! He is a little purr machine.

This week was their third week with us and I started letting them out supervised at the start of this week. I know people say 4 weeks but they were dying to get out and would push the door open. They have come to know the barn as a safe space - if they are out and get scared, they bolt back to the barn as fast as they can.

Which is of course a great thing. After about two days of supervised outing, they decided they wanted out, climbed a ladder and got out about an hour before I went to milk the goats. Imagine my surprise when I see two meowing kittens outside the door!

So now the door is open all day and they can come and go as they please, but they always stick around. I still close them in at night though, and only let them out when I go to milk the goats, since they are still small and I don't want anything getting them.

They are naturally hunters - one more than the other. He will crouch, pounce, and chase after on a little toy I attached to a string, and in the evenings they have great fun going after moths and crickets. They still aren't sizable enough to catch mice though, but they look they will be great mousers.
 

abraeri

Chillin' with the herd
Joined
Mar 12, 2019
Messages
24
Reaction score
25
Points
41
Update on the barn cats


A few days ago Tigger brought a little chipmunk into the barn and played with it for a while before getting distracted by a bug and letting it get away.

The next day I went to milk the goats in the morning and discovered an odd looking pile of flesh and fur... upon closer inspection it was a mouse and the only identifiable part was it's mouth. It's the kittens first confirmed kill I suppose. As much as I hate mice I do feel sorry for anything that gets on the wrong side of those cats' sharp claws.

The day after evening I went to milk the goats and lo and behold a dead chipmunk inside the barn. I took it outside and later saw them playing with it :idunno

Today I saw Pooh stalking a bird. It's not hard to see why they call cats the apex predator. I don't think we'll be having any mice round here for a long time!
 

Mini Horses

Herd Master
Joined
Sep 4, 2015
Messages
2,942
Reaction score
7,495
Points
398
Location
S coastal VA
It's instinct!! My momma cat take hers hunting in the cotton field next door. They hang in the barn & machine shop, except at feed time...then on the porch. After, they are seen in the barns & yes, they do try to hunt mice. In my case, I have mom to catch & bring to them for experience. Mine come when called but aren't wanting to cuddle! That's fine. I just need them to do their jobs. My old (20 y/o) one is retired...has claws but, lacking most teeth. He's been great tho. So, soft food for him! Barn cats are truly needed at any farm, IMO. Less mice means less grain issues AND less snakes! :clap

I have mom & 3 kittens. Nice for me!! Mom was born a barn cat & trained by her mom.
 

MtViking

Loving the herd life
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
219
Reaction score
824
Points
153
Sounds like your cattins are doing great. Ours are out and about unsupervised now as well. They love it here, they climb trees and play all over. I winterized the old rabbit hutch and made it into a nice safe place for them to sleep. It’s insulated and has a mini house inside full of straw and they cuddle up in there all toasty warm. They are both great little killers. I’ve seen both of them catch voles during the day, they play with them and eventually eat em. The whole thing! We’ve only seen one with a mouse one night but I’m sure they are getting them it’s just a lot harder to witness it in the dark. I haven’t seen a chipmunk in weeks they days before we got them I had 6-8 chipmunks on the porch every morning eating from the bird feeders. Since they've had free roam ZERO chipmunks at the feeders! They are doing great, I give them dry food available all the time and I give them wet food a few times a week. The last few days they’ve been getting the wet food every day so they have the extra calories and fatty goodness to help keep them warm and get good coats built up for winter. They truly are the best for the new homestead! And worth their weight in gold.
 

Sheepshape

Herd Master
Joined
Oct 19, 2012
Messages
1,553
Reaction score
2,569
Points
333
I can't speak too highly of cat 'rodent control'.

My old barn cat had to be euthanised a few years back in her late teens as her kidneys failed. The house cat took on the barn. I have no rodent problem at all, even though my 30 chickens are fed in there and we have two hoppers of sheep 'cake'. House cat seems to sleep for the best part of 20 hours a day, but the remaining 4 must be turned over to rodent catching. She eats most voles and the occasional mouse which means she needs to be wormed very regularly, but she's a very efficient little hunter. Having been discouraged from hunting birds from the outset, she never hunts birds and even the smallest of chicks are safe around her.
 
Top