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Barn cats/kittens

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  • Barn cats/kittens

    I have a small 3-stall barn I just finished building. I haven't seen any mice yet, but I know it's only a matter of time so I want to get some good mousers. Does it matter if you get an adult cat through the local shelter barn cat program or will kittens instinctually know how to hunt mice without an adult to learn from?

  • #2
    There are natural born killers and then there are cats who learn to hunt by watching other cats hunt. Adopt a couple from the pound who are adults

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    • #3
      I would look for a local program/rescue that specializes in rehoming feral cats to barn homes. Often the humane society wants them to have indoor/ pet homes. Definitely adult cats are more likely to survive and do well, plus they are so much less likely to be adopted as pets.

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      • #4
        Agree with the above comments. I did both. I took in an adult cat who needed a home and then two kittens born outside who also needed homes. I certainly worried about the kittens more than the adult until they were big enough to defend themselves. Regardless, you will want to keep them in a small enclosure for a period of time. You can google something like 'introducing new barn cat' --> http://www.carolsferals.org/free-res...ing-barn-cats/
        Here ya go. That way the cat realizes this is his new home and doesn't take off night one. I adore my barn cats. The two I got as kittens are actually better hunters than the adult.

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        • #5
          Definitely shelter and your choice adult cats or kittens. I personally would get adults. You just have to confine them for about 2 weeks. I've gotten all the above from local shelters: kittens, adults, and ferals. With the adults who were not feral, I have had a few that insisted they wanted to be house cats which is generally not a worry with the feral kitties. If you go for tame adults, maybe look to see the situation where they came from, i.e., owner turn in or a stray from out of doors some place, which will likely habituate to being out of doors better than someone's poor housecat they turned in.

          As others have pointed out, there are individuals and groups who now specialize in placing working cats at farms, breweries and the like and you can probably find one in your area.
          Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses on Facebook
          Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses Website and Blog

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          • #6
            Shelter or local barn cat program and definitely an adult.

            While kittens are cute and some people have success, a very sad number of "barn kittens" get picked off by large birds of prey, run over, stepped on, etc.

            A savvy adult barn cat is much more likely to be a functional farm cat. The ones I know were the most effective hunters when kept well fed. A starved barn cat hunts for survival while a plump one hunts for play. I can think of two rolly polly squatty barn cat types who were lethal hunters because they thought it was a great game.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks everyone! Looks like an adult cat is the way to go...thanks for the advice!

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              • #8
                Yes I fed barn cats at all the boarding barns and they killed mice when well fed. I won't say how many moved when my horses moved and became house cats. So many people dump cats out that they are always available for work at barns. Get those rabies shots and spaying/altering.

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                • #9
                  I had a feral cat have kittens in my barn about ten years ago, and abandon them at about 5 weeks, so didn't teach them to hunt. I kept 3 of the 5 and can tell you that their potential mousing ability is a crapshoot. One (the male) never goes more than 30 feet from the barn and generally lazes around eating cat food. I've never seen any evidence that he's caught anything but he does show interest when one of his sisters brings something back to the barn. One I think may do her share of hunting, but her main thing is to hang out with the small pony wherever he goes. The third is a fierce assassin. She will travel far, stay away for a few days, and kills a lot of things. Strangely, she is also the friendliest, and will meow when you talk to her and instantly purr if you pet her. Definitely keep up with the rabies, and spay/neuter.

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                  • #10
                    Don't worry if you get a couple of cats at least one will be a killer. For example I once took in a um large number of cats that a neighbor let breed from one female their heroin addicted adult son brought home. My father's friends wanted some mousers for their plantation on the Savannah river. Uh no I did not want them over where the Eagles and alligators ate the lambs. So I went to the humane society and picked out 6 kitties who had PTSWSN on the back of their cards. That's Put To Sleep When Space Needed always check out everything at the pound. So after a conversation with the director cause I said I was giving them to the Harrisons and not keeping them I paid for spaying and shots and off we went to Fife. They stayed in a room full for a couple of weeks and then had work around the yard and vegetable garden.
                    one of those cats was a 6 months old female whose owner put on her card that she had never been out of the house. Daddy's friend told him that that kitty had one mouse under each of her front paws one morning and how "well bred" all 6 of our cats were. Oh yeah.

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                    • #11
                      Please don't. Outdoor cats wreak havoc on all wildlife - just in the US they kill over a billion songbirds a year. Here is good review of the staggering damage they do: https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms2380/
                      ​​​​​​
                      I love my cat, which is why he stays indoors, where he is also safe from dogs, coyotes, tick-borne disease, vehicles, and many other threats.

                      Mice can be controlled with snap traps and traps do not require food, water or vet care. They also are very cheap! I let my rat snakes, hawks, owls, and weasel take care of the rest.
                      Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                      Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                      We Are Flying Solo

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                      • #12
                        Wildlifer- how many birds are killed by people every year? How many birds are killed by other birds? Around here the local flock of crows kills more baby birds then my cats ever would. They just got the nest of mockingbirds last week. I lost the baby bluebirds to a raccoon which chewed through the wood bird house. Before that, a snake ate the babies. The only birds that seem to be successful every year are the house wrens that nest in close proximity to people. I just saw some house wren babies at Lowes in the garden section- it is smart to nest near people. I swear they would be in my house if I left a window open - they've already nested in the garage and the barn.

                        As for cats, the local rescues usually have barn cats that are semi feral and already know how to hunt.

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                        • #13
                          I like my indoor cat, I've always had one and hopefully always will. I stopped liking barn cats when they decimated the phoebe (excellent insect catchers) population, the bluebird population, the barn swallows, and (the deal breaker) the rat snake. And ignored the mice. Some cats hunt rodents, others hunt birds. I realized it was cruelty to cats when I dealt with one killed by a car and one that tangled with something bigger, both died slowly. I realized it was a potential health hazard to people when the vegetable garden became their litter box.
                          Snap traps, a clean feed room, and a neighborhood fox.
                          And yes, people directly kill more birds, but why add to the problem?
                          Your mileage may vary.

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