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How do you relocate barn cats?

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  • How do you relocate barn cats?

    Here's the scenario. We may be selling our farm. Honestly, not the only thing, but one of the big things that stops us is that we have two barn cats that we adore. They hang out on the back porch with us, come in for visits and treats once in a while, they have a heated tack room as well as the barn for their own 'digs".

    One is 9, one is 7. How on earth, without making them house cats (I'm allergic and they don't seem to want to stay in even in the worst weather) would I move them and not have them scared and running away? Both are really good climbers , as in rafter kitties. Both are house cat tame. Spoiled rotten. Leaving them is not an option, they are our babies.
    Last edited by 2ndyrgal; Mar. 9, 2013, 12:31 PM. Reason: spelling

  • #2
    Whenever we've gotten ferals, they've instructed us to keep them in a dog crate for at least a week, to assimilate to the new surroundings. Feed them in there, water, put a litter box in there.
    Once they realize where their food comes from, they should stay put, but as is the case with all outdoor cats, there's no guarantee.


    • #3
      The above/what spacytracy said I would think. My parents cats aren't ferals (well, one probably was....an SPCA kitty brought in from the side of the road) but when we moved we kept them inside for a few weeks. They are usually indoor/outdoor cats so didn't love this but dealt with it. After the few weeks we let them outdoors and that was all it took for them to know where 'home' is.
      "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
      "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


      • #4
        We took ours with us when we moved a year or so ago. We just treated them as we did all the other cats, kept them contained and well fed for quite some time. We moved in January so they weren't interested in going outside too much and they were able to really watch out the windows for a long time and I think that helps them "track in" their location when they're in a new spot. Our barn cats decided to become house cats in the process so maybe make sure you keep yours in a garage or their intended area the whole time. An added bonus of keeping ours in was that it gave time for the neighborhood cats to move out of our area; there were several feral cats here when we arrived but by the time our cats were let outside the ferals had moved on.
        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


        • Original Poster

          I think the problem is..

          At the age the cats are, and frankly the temperment of the female aka "She who is the Queen of All She Surveys", I'd have to have a pretty big cage. More like a cat sanctuary type cage. Vet visits in small cages do not go well at all. Keeping them in the house, as bad as my allergies are, is simply not an option. The male cat, makes friends quite easily, the female? Does not like strangers at all. You would think that she would have made right up to my twin sister. Same voice, same perfume. Nothing doing, it took months until she would allow Herself to be petted, let alone picked up. If they were just ordinary barn cats, since they do their jobs really well, don't poop on the hay or spray, a new owner would love to have them around. Ace Kitty (black female) is the last of her litter that was born on the farm, and Legs (gray male) was dumped off into the barn on a wet/stormy night. I couldn't possibly leave them.

          Maybe I could cover a stall with chicken wire, install cat condo thingies from Pet Smart and then they'd at least have room.


          • #6
            Search this forum for "How to install a barn cat" Good thread.


            • #7
              Look into the big indoor kennels meant for dogs; or see about making one. Where is their new shelter going to be, is there another barn?

              My dad just made a screened-in porch for their cats out of hardware cloth and chicken wire so they can go outside but not get into any danger. (he's turned crazy cat man on us)
              “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


              • #8
                Will new house have a garage? Maybe you could keep them in there, and just avoid that area for the time it takes them to adjust?
                "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


                • #9
                  When I moved last year, I was really worried about how my indoor/outdoor kitties were going to manage, because I knew we'd be stuck in an apartment for at least six months before moving into our new house. My cats normally spent a huge portion of their time outdoors and I could not imagine how I was going to confine them (apartment was in the middle of a very busy area, think shopping mall situation, surrounded by highways. Yes, it was lovely.)

                  It turned out that I worried for nothing. They were fine in the apartment (actually handled it MUCH better than I did, in fact.) I think cats are more adaptable than we give them credit for. And mine were 9 at the time; I considered them pretty set in their ways, but I was wrong.

                  I do realize that you have the allergy issue to deal with, though. Is there any chance you could confine your kitties in a spare bedroom for a short while, perhaps?
                  We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                  • #10
                    Yep, I would get a large-size or extra-large wire dog crate and just keep them in there a few days/week or two at the new barn/garage/porch. Since they're outdoor cats they might still run away, but they might do that anyway. If there are other really good reasons to sell and move, don't let the cats stop you.

                    And there is always the possibility the new buyers would want barn cats. What is a barn without cats? My mother is allergic and NOT a cat person AT ALL, and yet we have barn cats (even the "We are trying to encourage him NOT to stay" one has a food bowl in the aisle because last winter there was a storm with like two feet of snow and "What if Mr. Seven can't get outside to hunt/go back wherever else he goes for food?" Yes, mom, THAT will encourage him to move. Personally I want to keep him, he's a big squishy wimp.)
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                    • #11
                      I've had barn cats for over thirty years without owning my own barn. I've moved cats several times when I've relocated the horse(s). The first time I had all five ear tattooed (pre-microchip days) just in case. We moved via car and in regular cat carriers, let them quiet down in the carriers at the new location and just turned 'em loose. Only once did I have one go AWOL for a couple of days, but he was just checking out the new neighbourhood. (Note: all my cats are spayed/neutered. A female in heat or a tom looking to get lucky is far less likely to stick around and a lot more likely to get injured in a fight or go too far from the barn for safety. Not to mention that I don't ever want a repeat of the summer when we had 35 kittens born to four unspayed females who were already resident at the barn we had just moved to!)

                      Four of those original cats went on to be relocated again five years later along with eight others that we "inherited". Again, no issues although a couple did disappear within a few days. However, I am fairly certain that it was due to coyote predation.

                      Cats are very territorial but once they realize that they have a new territory, they figure things out pretty quickly. Over the years, I have ALWAYS fed my barn cats only once daily, in the early evening or late afternoon, depending on barn hours. That's for a reason: that's when I am usually at the barn and I want to do a head count once I arrive. They know I mean "food" to them and they're not stupid!

                      And with respect to the "queen bee" female, if there are cats already inhabiting the new location, she may find that she's no longer top of the heap! At least that's what happened to my former super tough females (now spayed) when they moved into barns with resident unspayed momcats with kittens. There is no tougher cat on the planet than a momcat with kittens to defend!
                      "Facts or opinions which are to pass through the hands of so many, to be misconceived by folly in one, and ignorance in another, can hardly have much truth left." - Jane Austen: "Persuasion"


                      • #12
                        I moved the feral i was feeding when we bought our house. She was occasionally in, mostly outside. I kept her in for about 2 weeks, them let her have in and out with shelter outside and food both in and out. She is still here.
                        ~Former Pet Store Manager (10yrs)
                        ~Vintage Toy Dealer (rememberswhen.us)
                        ~Vet Tech Student
                        Mom to : 2 Horses, 4 Dogs, 2 Cats