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Questions about barn cats and mice

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  • Original Poster

    Yeah, it is the downside to living in the country, I suppose. We never had mice in our previous home (not city by any means, but not country either). A snake inside the barn is going to bother my husband ALOT. He is afraid of them/doesn't like them. He still wouldn't kill it though. Quite frankly, because of the mice, I already bang on the walls a little before I have to walk to the back area. But anything along the rafters, snake or mouse, is really going to make neither of us want to go in there!

    I have reason to believe the electronic devices work inside the house, we plugged them in late fall/early winter and haven't seen any sign of mice in quite a few months (though one in the garage the other day). But, only a few places to plug in the barn and none right near the area they hang out, so just thinking it wouldn't work out there, too many outside noises, etc.


    • #22
      My barn cats were well-fed on cat food and I still found little mouse & mole bodies on a regular basis for the first two years I lived here. If fed, they hunted more. It became a play-job for them, not a way to fill their stomaches.

      My barn has been mouse-free (that I've seen) for 11 years due to my barn cats. Keep them up to date on their yearly vaccines and they can live a long, happy life. My last two barn cats just passed away at 11 1/2 and 12 1/2 years, respectively. My last cat is 11 1/2 and is still catching a mouse or two a week.


      • #23
        Your way past dealing with keeping them out. Now you have to get rid of them. They are nasty, destructive, disease ridden creatures that I have to mercy for no matter how "cute" I think they are. They are right up there with fire ants in my book and need to be exterminated quickly.

        D-Con. Sold cheaply and keep it coming until you don't see the poison eaten any longer. Re-supply as needed. They will get into your feed and hay and pee and poop all over everything. Personally, I don't want my horses eating rat/mice excrement.

        Yes, I live in the country, and when they outgrow/overpopulate the feed room you will start seeing them in your house. Kindness doesn't work. For every one you kill there will be more to take its place. You have to keep them under control. If you've let it go too long you might have to resort to an exterminator. Do it before summer or we'll be reading about mice nests in your shoes.

        After you get rid of the mice, then get a barn cat to keep the population under control.


        • #24
          What I do

          I had a problem with mice so I got two barn cats. I ended up making one a house cat and now have one barn cat. I lock him in my feed shed at night so he can both deter mice and be safe from coyotes. He is 7 1/2 now. He is mostly protected from other things like racoons by my two Aussies who consider him one of their charges. He rarely gets birds but mice and moles are fair game. I don't usually get left presents. I suspect he doesn't want me to share with the house cats.

          Have had a snake (black rat snake) in my hay shed before. Wouldn't have minded so much except that he layed up on the ledge and hung over watching me work (and he was huge). Moth balls on the ledge worked well (before putting in hay for the next year). I know I still have at least one around as I've found the shed skin but no more hanging above me watching me while I work so I'm ok with it.
          Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe


          • #25
            We have ten cats, spayed and neutered, of course. I never see living mice or rats, and find very little sign of them. I am a cat person (duh) and love their company, regardless of their hunting prowess.

            Cats are easy pets, but do march to their own drummer. The joke about herding cats is too true! It would be too bad to get a cat and not love having it-have you thought about getting a terrier? The working breeds are great ratters, and fun barn buddies. They do have their own set of issues-maybe the cat herding would be easier after all!

            Good luck-mice are a fact of life in the country.


            • #26
              A terrier will work great for rats, but I would go with a cat for mice. My last barn had 2 cats and they kept the mouse population under control pretty well, but they would not go near the rats. The rats were causing a lot of damage (which the BO did nothing about, but that's another story). There was one woman who took a lesson with me and she would bring her little terrier with her to the barn. I think it was a Norfolk terrier. Anyway, that little dog would go straight to work while we were riding, and by the time we were done she would be sitting at the door with a fresh rat kill. She was great. OTOH, the resident Jack Russell would just corner them in a hole somewhere and whine all day.

              Current barn has 2 cats in the barn/hay loft and one in the tack room. They do a great job. I have never seen a live mouse there.


              • #27
                You just cannot have it both ways.
                Like OP have said, you are waaaay past "a few mice" - you probably have a population in the hundreds if not more.
                It is just a Fact of Life in the country. Winter moves the field mice indoors where it's warmer and as a bonus they find a food source. Why would they move?
                Face the fact that some mice are gonna have to die to keep your barn rodent-free.

                A barn cat is an excellent and economical way to keep mice in control.
                I have one little 5# female patrolling my barn and the only mice I see are the parts she leaves uneaten.
                She also hunts & kills voles, moles and the occasional sparrow along with as many baby bunnies and their halfgrown sibs as get in her way. She is The Verminator!

                I do feed her - and can always tell when the hunt has been a good one as she turns up her nose at the catfood I offer.
                She gets a rabies shot in the Spring (got a 3-year one last year) and Droncit for tapeworms in pill form for about $15 a year. I also use Revolution spot-on so she is free of fleas, ticks, ear mites & heartworm. That runs about $35 for the season: June thru September.

                She has a polarfleece bed for cool weather and (sucker that I am) an electric heater for frigid nights. Not to mention my lap for the naps she demands when I take a break from barn chores.

                I lost her brother to a car when they were 6mos old, but as much as that hurt I let her remain outside and she is happy & healthy at 4yo.

                I have an older housecat who moved from the city with me.
                I debated letting her move outdoors but in the end decided not to.
                When she is gone I will have no more pets inside the house.
                Think of that: a house free of cathair
                *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                • #28
                  When we moved to this farm a little over a year ago, it was truly overrun with mice. They were EVERYWHERE. We brought some female feral cats with us from our previous barn, but there were so many mice, I was afraid they would eat the cats!

                  What we did was get some of the "Tom Cat" mouse/rat bait containers (we got ours at Tractor Supply Company, but I am sure they are available many other places). These are totally enclosed except for a small opening that no cat or dog can fit into. They are lockable as well, so children cannot get to the bait blocks which are stacked on rods that keep the bait blocks out of reach and prevent them from falling out if the container is picked up or shaken etc. The rats and/or mice can easily crawl inside and eat the bait (which they seem to love). They then crawl off to find water as the bait makes them thirsty. Once they drink water, the bait will be activated and will kill them. I rarely saw any of the dead mice and I have not seen any mice (alive or dead) for almost 8 months. My cats were not harmed at all, but since you have no cats, that is one problem you would not have to be concerned with regardless.
                  Tricia Veley-First Flight Farm
                  Boerne, Texas
                  830-537-4150 phone/830-537-4154 fax
                  FFF Page on Facebook: Become a fan!
                  FFF Channel on YouTube: See videos


                  • #29
                    I would worry that the mice are going to move from the barn into the house if you do not do something about them sooner than later. Like everyone has said, if you see that many you have a huge population of them.

                    I have three feral cats that I got thru a TNR program. Yes, they leave me gifts. Every now and again I find a dead rodent in the middle of the aisle way. Though, if I ignore the gifts they are usually gone by the next time I am in the barn. It is rare that find pieces/parts. Sometimes, but not often.

                    The majority of their killing appears to be rodents. They have gotten a bird from time to time. (I find a few feather's in a pile on the floor.) On a good note, the birds that were making a mess in my barn moved out.

                    My three are well fed cats too. But they instinctually hunt. And they are good at it. As far as the shots go - they are current when you get them. If you want them boostered you either have to make them friendly enough to take to the vet, or trap them again. There is no easy way to do it. Two of my three will let me get close enough to them that I manage to put flea stuff on them.

                    I too have three large not cat friendly dogs. It has not been a problem. The dogs are not allowed in the barn, the cats do not come up to the house.


                    • #30
                      I forgot to add that my cats get the credit for keeping the barn mouse free after the Tom Cat bait killed off the vast majority of the mice that were here initially. The cats are well fed here by us, but love to hunt, so the mice cannot survive here long enough to repopulate again. If you do decide to get a feral cat or two, I would definitely get females. The males generally (though not ALWAYS) tend to be lazier and more likely to hang out by the food dish (like Garfield rather than hunt for their dinner.

                      I also have 4 dogs that are with me at the barn every day, 2 are retired greyhounds and the other 2 are rescued mixed breed "pound puppies". I do not believe my dogs make any difference with the mice, but they sure like to occasionally chase the cats! It is all a game though, they actually get along great, the dogs would not hurt them ever. They will walk past each other and totally ignore each other if one or the other is not in the mood to play. They never bother the horses.
                      Tricia Veley-First Flight Farm
                      Boerne, Texas
                      830-537-4150 phone/830-537-4154 fax
                      FFF Page on Facebook: Become a fan!
                      FFF Channel on YouTube: See videos


                      • Original Poster

                        Wow! I have to say I'm really surprised about everyone saying that if we have seen a few mice, we have hundreds! It just seems incredible, but we will certainly take your word for it, this is just our first year of having horses at home/having a barn. It's a small barn and quite open - is not a "horse" barn per se, rather what was on the property and we have made it work for us.

                        I know, you can't have it both ways, was just hoping there was some sort of natural deterrant. Anyway, my husband gave up last night on the not killing them ourselves idea and put a few snap traps out. So far 3 have died, 2 overnight, one already this morning by lunch. Interestingly, I just went over to clean the stalls and didn't see one mouse around, which is unusual. However...potential new problem...this is the second time in the past few days we've now seen a squirrel in the rafters! Geez!

                        I'm guessing we need to keep the traps there forever.

                        I was reading that a barn owl is good pest control, so perhaps we'll try building a nesting box to attract one sometime, but I guess he woudn't actually come into the barn, but help keep the population down outside.

                        I'm sure we would end up getting attached to any cat we got, I guess it just doesn't appeal to us to get an animal that would normally be a pet, for the sole purpose of having it stay at the barn and "work". It's only us here, so it wouldn't be getting alot of people interaction. And again, it is another animal to care for/have expenses, which we'd rather avoid right now while money is tight. I will note what everyone said they do for their barn cats, but I would suspect they may even need more vaccines/flea/tick treatments than the average cat, considering they live outside.

                        I honestly just thought we had one mouse in the barn initially, and that he'd leave when the weather got warmer (ie today!). Live and learn

                        If we do consider a feral cat, then definitely a female and is one enough or would it need a 2nd to keep it company?


                        • #32
                          I would go for two, particularly if, as you say, the cat would have very little human contact. It would less likely to roam if it had a friend. 2 are really no more trouble than one.

                          As far as expenses, we treat our barn cats just as our house cats are treated. They are vaccinated, wormed and given heartworm/flea treatments. I do my annual vaccinations myself (except rabies, as Texas requires that a vet administer the rabies vaccination so the state has a record of which animals are vaccinated). I take my dogs and cats to the local SPCA or Humane Society when they have their annual rabies vaccination drive and get them done for $5.00 each. The shot is good for 3 years.
                          Tricia Veley-First Flight Farm
                          Boerne, Texas
                          830-537-4150 phone/830-537-4154 fax
                          FFF Page on Facebook: Become a fan!
                          FFF Channel on YouTube: See videos


                          • #33
                            Glue traps or regular baited snap-traps here. We keep a fairly neat barn but mice happen. Either of those traps can be dropped in a zip lock to dispose of them. I don't do poison as I do have cats and dogs around.

                            Cowgirl up and kill the mice, OP


                            • #34
                              I'm surprised no one has mentioned Cedar

                              If you have a choice, bedding your stalls in Cedar shavings will deter mice. The aromatic oils cause lung problems in rodents.

                              Not a cure-all for sure, but a natural deterrent.

                              My dream barn will have cedar panelling in the tack room and feed room too! Major rodent prevention!

                              For now though - we have barn cats, as we don't bed the stalls.


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by Mrs. Cowboy View Post
                                If you have a choice, bedding your stalls in Cedar shavings will deter mice. The aromatic oils cause lung problems in rodents.

                                Not a cure-all for sure, but a natural deterrent.

                                My dream barn will have cedar panelling in the tack room and feed room too! Major rodent prevention!

                                For now though - we have barn cats, as we don't bed the stalls.
                                Though I love my pet rats, and I would never bed them in cedar (or pine), I highly doubt using cedar bedding would be much of an issue for wild critters unless they decided to bed themselves in it.

                                It might also cause issue for the horses, who are bedded in it.

                                Originally posted by Gryhnd View Post

                                I know, you can't have it both ways, was just hoping there was some sort of natural deterrant.
                                If it was that easy there would not be a huge market for various ways to rid the house and barn of them.

                                Originally posted by Gryhnd View Post
                                Anyway, my husband gave up last night on the not killing them ourselves idea and put a few snap traps out. So far 3 have died, 2 overnight, one already this morning by lunch.
                                That should be another clue that you have far more mice than you are wanting to admit you have. If you have caught three in less than 24 hours you have a pretty large rodent population.

                                And just FYI - rodents are some what smart. They will get harder to catch.

                                As far as the feral cat thing goes. I would suggest getting more than one.
                                Last edited by trubandloki; Mar. 17, 2009, 02:25 PM.


                                • Original Poster

                                  I am still surprised at the comments indicating we have a ton of mice, but will take everyone's word for it. They must really hide themselves well; yet OTOH, they don't seem too swift as to run away quickly when we are in the barn. Went one day w/out catching any, and 2 days without seeing any in the barn, but saw one today and caught one today...count is up to 8.
                                  BTW, does everyone feel peanut butter is the best thing to use in the snap traps? Or if they do get smarter about it, best to switch off between different items?
                                  We might hold off on the feral cat just until we see if new neighbors (house for sale next door) have any animals and if so, if they run loose or not, since the barn is not too far from their property. Otherwise though, looks like 2 feral female cats are in our future.


                                  • #37
                                    We have always had barn cats. and guess what? they are pets too...when i take a break, they are rubbing on my legs, jumping in laugh etc. actually down to two at thid time, all my barn cats lived to at least age 17, never had mice, (14 stall barn), that i noticed until my old ladies got, well, old. after a while i noticed a few, within a very short period of time, when i fed, here they come, and no they were not detrred by my presence, the dogs or horse. i had same issue as you, not wanting to kill poison etc, well, let me tell you, when i spoke with our vet, (after i got the 2 cats I have now, that only hunt their food dish) i called an exterminator. what i thought as you do, i had a few, even though the vet told me me i probably had betweeen 50 -100, well guess what, 108. in a month to 6 weeks, i had 108. OMG! i was completely freaked. the guy actually used several types of traps, including live, and poison. I was told by him, that there was no way in hades that 2 cats could have ever gotten ot down to a controllable population because how quickly they multiply. you want to get a cat, great. CALL AN EXTERMINATOR IMMEDIATLEY!!! i honestly thought i had a FEW, nope 108.