Sunday, August 21, 2011

Barn Cats

Today I saw six chipmunks in the chicken coop eating the hens scratch. This morning I saw three bunnies hopping around in the yard. All these little varmints are going to start to attracting predators sooner or later, if not already. I think we need a barn cat.

How do you get your barn cats to not eat your chickens, guineas, or hatchlings? Can you have a lone barn cat or will it need a friend?

When I asked Mocha if she wanted to live outside she gave me the look pictured above, I took it as a no.


  1. I wish we had a barn cat too! We tried to coax a ferel cat that was hanging around the house to live in the barn with lots of food, and he/she would hide out under the barn waiting for dinner, but could never get him/her to take up residence. Then we got Harley (German Shepherd) and the cat moved on.

    I was thinking I'd eventually find someone with an outdoor momma cat and get kittens from them, but I haven't been able to convince DH that we need a Barn Cat. The squirrels and mice in the barn drive me NUTS and spoil feed & make a huge mess.

    I would think that two would be ideal (companionship & warmth in the winter), but not sure how to keep it from eating the chicks. I think the grown chickens would be ok.

  2. Howdy again! It was so nice to talk with you this evening!

    We've been through this a couple times, and have found that starting with 2 or 3 kittens works nicely, so that they have companionship and are not fearful. The fact that they are kittens means that the chickens are bigger and the kittens are fearful of them. Our 2nd batch of barn kittens (just a pair) are half grown and still skittish around the chickens, despite having killed and eaten mice. Chicks are fair game, though, but that has been a given with our adult cats as well, so if I can keep chicks safe from my cats, then they are safe from predators, too. I guess that was redundant! :)
    ~ Ronda

  3. Mocha knows which side of the bread is buttered, obviously! Smart girl!

    Is your henhouse big enough for two cats who would keep each other company? (AND kill the vermin?)

  4. Our chicken, Honey, has adopted our two barn cats as part of her new flock. At the beginning, they would "pretend stalk" her, lying flat in the bushes and jumping out, but all she had to do was fluff up big once or twice and that cured them of that habit. She's as big as they are, just a different shape. lol
    I don't know how you would keep them from eating hatchlings, though - seems to me that instinct would sort of take over, there, you know? We *love* our barn cats - and while we still have those "snappy" mouse traps set in certain spots of the barn, our barn kitties have been known to eat the mice right out of the traps. (ewwwww!) We haven't seen any sign of mice since winter.

  5. whatcha need to do is roll on down to your local vet and tell them you need barncats - they will hand you a bucket full of them at a good price fixed, flea-d, and with shots. and yep you need several - hopefully from the same litter to that they can keep each other company and warm. and if you establish your own colony of cats it will keep wanderers away.

    all you need to do is feed them well and let them rip. somewhat feral barncats will hunt like the dickens and nope they wont be interested in your birds - they will be more interested in slow moving field mice. our barncat, Shine, positions himself on a sack of feed like a maharaja and just whomps those mice with his enormous paws. easy peasy.

  6. We have three barn cats. They were all kittens we bought them, so they were raised with all the birds, so they leave them alone. They are not traditional barn cats as they do come inside when it's really hot or freezing cold, but they do a great job of keeping rodents away. We're always finding dead mice or moles in the yard. I think it would better to get two, everyone always likes a partner in crime.I know SPCA's sometimes offer barn cats at a cheap price (they're 25 here) but I would be hesitant to get an adult in case he/she decided they wanted chicken for dinner. Good luck!

  7. I got 3 barn cats from a feral cat rescue program. They take cats that are causing neighborhood residents to complain and alter them and make sure they're healthy and then relocate them as barn cats. You're supposed to keep them closed up in your barn for a couple weeks until they learn it's home so they don't scatter as soon as you let them out. Well, mine found a hold they could get out of. I've had them for a few months and rarely get a glimpse of them. They've never hurt the chickens. I have another barn cat that I inherited because she didn't like my mom. She's quite the hunter and very friendly (to me anyway) and she will lie down right next to a chicken. She doesn't even look at the bantams. I'm sure I may just be lucky, but it can definitely be done. I think my step-dad said that Smokey used to kind of chase the chickens, but he squirted her with a squirt bottle and she left them alone after that.

    Good luck!

  8. Carolyn - I agree, I think 2 would be optimal, especially with how cold it gets here.

    Ronda - Great talking with you as well. Kittens would be best but I need to figure out how to build them a way to climb into the lofts!

    Danni - We have plenty for them to eat around here, of course they could get eaten by animals higher in the food chain as well. If we do get some they need to have small personalities.....not as much room here as at your place.

    OFG - Does the humane society really give breaks for barn cats? I will have to call and see. Shine does a good job because he is afraid you may drag him inside to join the possee.

    Sarah - My fear is that it gets really, really cold here, like -20F or lower. I wonder if I put them in with the sheep if they could avoid getting trampled.

    Jeff - Feral sounds a bit too dangerous for me, the dogs and kids might not understand the cats limitations. Cats are smart, I think I will just have to make sure they are fed well enough so they don't get desperate enough to attack bigger chickens.

  9. i dunno if the humane society does - but any local, rural vet has tons of barncats available. we took about a dozen into our vet and she gave us a tremendous break on the price to get them fixed. the 'spay and release' program is the best way to deal with barncats and many local vets have tons of cats brought in. good barncats are worth their weight in gold - for sure.

  10. We got three from a local SPCA - all adults, and hunters. They really do a number on the mice. Unfortunately, the females also fight amongst themselves, so if you get adults, you might be better with just one. Also, I think it is better to get fixed cats - they breed like bunnies, but then become over-crowded and tend to have runs of major diseases, which is nasty to see, and impossible to treat. We also try to keep them from becoming feral, by feeding and handling them daily. That way, if we ever do need to catch them or treat them for anything, it won't be a battle.

  11. PS - the three hunting adults we got leave the chickens completely alone, though I would not trust them with chicks...

  12. OFG - Thanks, I'll check with my vet. While I'm there I will also tell them that they really need to start treating sheep and goats...

    JJ - If I get any barn cats you can be sure I will do my best to make sure they are friendly and taken care of. The problem here is cold - brutal, frigid cold.