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Barn cats and rats

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  • Barn cats and rats

    so, do they work?? do they need to be ferral? we have rats and it's driving me crazy. How do you keep cats from running away? I'm not a cat person but, might start!

  • #2
    Try some feral jack russles
    "Dressage" is just a fancy word for flatwork


    • #3
      I've found cats are great controlling mice but not rats poison works great just make sure you put it out so dogs don't find and eat it. I've never had a problem with dead rats killing cats and dogs even though I've found them eating them. My vet says once the poison breaks down to kill the rat its not going to hurt other things that eat the dead rat.
      Quality doesn\'t cost it pays.


      • #4
        Our barn cats are not interested in chasing down a rat (way too much work for them). The dog, however, will rip thru anything in hot pursuit. He's destroyed more bags of feed then the rats. lol. Good luck.


        • #5
          I've known cats to eat mice, rabbits, birds, and frogs. But I've only ever seen the dog with a rat.


          • #6
            Nah, the cats don't have to be feral. But you do need the right cat. My killer came from a friend's house- she came to them as a stray and was a helluva mouser- but friend's DH was threatening to shoot her. I brought her home and had her spayed. She kills mice and rats, even the big ones. She has a sick sense of humor and loves to torture small rodents.

            If you have a lot of rats, your best option is probably D-Con or Just One Bite. Unlike County, I've never seen a cat or dog eat a poisoned rat. They seem to know that it's not a good idea. If you're worried about secondary poisoning, there is a class of rat poisons that are safe. A bit of Googling will turn up the name of the safer poisons.


            • #7
              Agreed, you have to have the right cat. Mine are hunters and they do bring down the rats. My two right now will not bring down a huge rat, but will take on the juveniles. Their father was a 16 pound barn cat (now my house cat) and he did take on the bigger rats and would consume them. every.last.bite.

              I have had friends with poisoned dogs who presumably had found an almost dead rat and dispatched it/ate it.
              Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
              Bernard M. Baruch


              • #8
                I agree that you have to have the right cat, doesn't need to be feral, but it does need to be a hunter. To keep it from running off, you have to feed it. And not just at first, you have to feed them regularly. Cats don't catch rodents because they're hungry, they catch them because they're hunters. Many don't even eat what they catch. If possible, I'd try to get ahold of a kitten/young cat born in a barn. And please get it spayed/neutered and get its yearly vaccinations. If you get the right one, they'll catch anything: mice, rats, rabbits, bugs, birds, lizards, plastic bags, rolls of vetwrap...

                Funny story:
                I took home a kitten of the best mouser barn cat that ever lived. I once watched Mom gobble down 2 mice whole in 4 seconds; she was crunching on the 2nd one while the 1st one's tail was still hanging out of her mouth. It was disgusting but fascinating. My girl is an inside only cat, has only been outside twice in her life, by accident. She gets a kick out of most cat toys, but if you break out those little toy mice, WATCH OUT! She has no idea why she loves them so much, she just has the mousing instinct. She just caught her first real mouse a couple months ago. She had been sitting with her nose stuffed under the attic door for 3 days straight; if I tried to pull her away, she'd howl. All of the sudden, I hear BAM!! like someone kicked the door full-force. She casually comes thumping down the stairs, and sits down in front of me. Only then did I realize (with horror) that she was holding a mouse in her mouth. She had this puzzled look on her face, like, "what am I supposed to do with this?" You can't teach it; it's in the genes.
                Last edited by Seven-up; Dec. 17, 2008, 04:49 AM. Reason: adding more info


                • #9
                  I'd probably start by poisoning off all the rats now (that you can) with some poison. (different areas seem to have better luck with different types, so I won't name any brands as I have no idea where you are). Then try some feral cat programs (since you have to leave them in cages in the barn for 2-4 weeks) and once the rats have "died down" so to speak, let the cats go. If you are seriously infested with huge ones, then it's probably best to do the phase 1 and phase 2. www.castawaycats.org and www.barncats.org can probably help you find a feral rehoming program in your area (or contact your local humane society). Choose larger (but not the fatties) cats. My mom's 22lb siamesex boys got out and have caught rabbits (full grown) and squirrels. Funny story. She heard the cat outside, so went to let him in (they aren't allowed out, but sometimes are just too darn quick). Anyway.. he's not around, so she waits for a bit and closes the screeen door. About 10 mins later he's scratching at the door, adn without looking she lets him in. Well, he hadn't killed his prey, and let a full grown wild rabbit loose in the house. Have you ever tried to catch a wild rabbit? It's not fun.. lol.. (but it was hilarious to watch). ever since, she does a "prey" check if they get out and are coming in.
                  "Sadly, some people's greatest skill, is being an idiot". (facebook profile pic I saw).


                  • #10
                    Get a working terrier. Cats tend not to go after the rats, or at least, not the really big ones. My terriers are great ratters!
                    Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!


                    • #11
                      Yes they work,

                      No they don't have to be feral.

                      But some cats do have better "killer instincts" than others.
                      And feed the cats, whether feral or not.
                      Cats who are well fed and who have that killer instinct will still kill, I know, that's why all my cats have to live inside so the birds can live outside. (Including a former barn cat who was wanted at a barn, then unwanted, and came home to live with my housecats)

                      So go to the pound and save a few lives.

                      Those feral Jack Russells are really good too.


                      • #12
                        And keep a bottle of vitamin K capsules for the times when you think (or know) your dog or cat has gotten hold of a poisoned animal.

                        My vet says that a dog who eats a poisoned rat shouldn't have problems, but that the Vitamin K will offset any worries. Like when my father's hunting dog ate a rat at a friend's farm once.


                        • #13
                          my chickens ganged up on a rat once and killed it....

                          I shot one, once....

                          the cats avoid the rats (and larger varmits), but, eat everything else in site....

                          if you can move in a family of foxes, now there are your varmit killers...


                          • #14
                            I had rats that were as big as a small cat. OK, maybe not quite that big but they were darn big. Can't imagine anything but a really mean, nasty cat taking one of those on. Rat poison worked although I hated to do it. I actually thought the rats were cute...but they ate through so many strings on my hay bales I had to *let them go*.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by smokygirl View Post
                              I'd probably start by poisoning off all the rats now (that you can) with some poison. (different areas seem to have better luck with different types, so I won't name any brands as I have no idea where you are). Then try some feral cat programs (since you have to leave them in cages in the barn for 2-4 weeks) and once the rats have "died down" so to speak, let the cats go. If you are seriously infested with huge ones, then it's probably best to do the phase 1 and phase 2.
                              I would be very, very careful with the poison idea. We had a barn in Illinois overrun with rats. Literally dozens of them. The hundreds of acres of woods and corn fields near us were turned in to a subdivision one year and that winter, we had a barn full. Our barn cats would not even touch them. The rats were huge and aggressive. The problem with the poison is that they will get very, very thirsty after they are poisoned and will go to any water source, including stock tanks and buckets. Then they typically fall on in and drown. If you don't mind fishing out bodies and scrubbing down buckets several times a day, then it may work.

                              I completely agree with the terriers idea. I had a female scottish terrier that was a killing machine. She took down an opossum once and it was ugly. The opossum did not even have a chance.


                              • #16
                                You can tell they are killing the rats and or mice, etc. because if they really like you they bring you gifts. This week I got my first rat gift. It was laying in the middle of the barn, not a huge rat but substantial and I believe it was my little fat girl who has really started snuggling after 3 years of scratching me if I got too close. I know she thinks she's half horse because she seems to be part of the herd when I get there. She's very well fed so she doesn't need the rodents to survive but the better they are fed the more they catch because they feel well and have plenty of time to hang around your barn and not go into the field to catch the mice and rats. Feed them inside the barn and they will guard the barn from rodents. Must have water too.

                                If anyone is in DE, MD, NJ, eastern PA you can get barn cats from Forgotten Cats of DE http://www.forgottencats.org/index.php and they'll teach you how to acclimate them to your barn. If they won't stick around they'll bring you more cats. Email them at info@forgottencats.org and tell them you're interested in getting barn cats. All the cats have been neutered and are up to date with their shots. For the most part don't count on a friendly and charming cat, it may happen but most of them are just not people cats that's why they need to be released at farms and not adopted into homes.


                                • #17
                                  13 cats at the barn, and all hated rats. Would hunt rabbits, mice, snakes birds and moles, but refused to touch a rat. Two cats would track them down through the barn and show you where they were, but that was that. DCon got the job done.
                                  "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



                                  • #18
                                    Unlike mice rats fight back (yuck!!) so, unless they are very small, cats usually won't go after them. They are more difficult to poison as well. It has to be a very slow kill poison because if one rat gets sick or dies soon after eating the bait the others won't eat it. They will actually take it and stash it somewhere 'safe' so it appears that they are eating it but not getting killed. They are very smart...too bad they are so destructive (and ugly).
                                    * <-- RR Certified Gold Star {) <-- RR Golden Croissant Award
                                    Training Tip of the Day: If you can’t beat your best competitor, buy his horse.
                                    NO! What was the question?


                                    • #19
                                      I agree with Seven-up - go to the shelter and get one or two cats, get them neutered and feed them - they need to have the energy to want to "play with the prey" so to speak.

                                      During a horseless period we ended up with a few huge wood rats in our barn so I went to the shelter and picked up a medium sized full grown female and a male kitten (not related). Female adopted Jr. and taught him to ropes. I went down to the barn one day and there were 3 huge rats lined up side by side with both cats looking at me like "you didn't want these, did you?"

                                      The funny thing was then my German Shepard did the same as he was a great mouser. Pete, the male cat, wasn't sure if he was a dog or a cat but he knew that mice and rats the best playtoys around!
                                      Last edited by KnKShowmom; Dec. 17, 2008, 11:17 AM. Reason: edit


                                      • #20
                                        I had an infestation of rats earlier this year and was not making a dent in the population (the cats ignore them and the dogs couldn't get to them).

                                        I got about 7 bait stations and bait, smeared peanut butter on the poison blocks and they ate it like crazy. Did that for about a month and I haven't seen any rats or evidence of rats for a while.

                                        The peanut butter really seemed to do the trick--they ate a LOT more poison when I used it.