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Old 07-24-2009, 01:29 PM  
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Wanted a barn cat... help me out

Hey guys,

My mom has always wanted a cat, but my dad is highly allergic so we never had one at home. Now that we have a barn we decided to each get a barn cat (my mom can finally have a cat, I can have one too, and the mice won't eat out feed bags and tack now). So I found one I want and we have another rescue who said they have one for us. I ran into a problem though.

I rent the barn and property and live about 15 minutes away, the owners of the place live on site though and they have 3 dogs. Their dogs are very friendly, but like to chase other animals (mostly the rabbits that used to be around) and the one dog has a very high hunting drive and she might kill if she catches a bird, rabbit, or cat. The dogs are not in the barn a lot but sometimes they come in as they have run of the property (the owner is trying to teach them to stay away from the barn though since I now use it). If the dogs were to see and chase the cats, I would hope the cats could get away and stay in the barn, get under smaller areas, climb into the hay loft ect. BUT, I am worried that if one of the dogs does get a cat and hurt or kill it, I will never forgive myself. So I am not sure if I should risk getting a barn cat now, but I do need one for the mice. Also, 2 years ago there was a barn cat that lived here just fine, but there were also bunnies released and the dogs got alsmot every one of them except one who is still around. The owners said it's up to me, but she warned me that her dogs may try and get it.

The last thing I want is for the people I get the cats from to ask how their kitty is doing and me have to tell them that something horrible happened. I wouldn't want that to happen anyways in the first place.

I know it sounds cruel for me to still want to get a cat and see, but this is why I am asking you guys, should I risk it? Is there anything I can do? How good are cats at getting away and keeping themselves safe? I do have a tack room with a little cat door they can run into. Can I bring one up and see how the dogs react (with them at a safe distance and us there) or should I say forget it all together, it's too much a risk?
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Old 07-24-2009, 01:39 PM  
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We have cats too, and they are always at risk of getting eaten by coyotes, so I don't see how you can prevent all accidents or ensure the cats will be safe. We lost an outdoor cat to coyotes last year.

Barn cats don't have very long lives, unfortunately, but it doesn't really have anything to do with you being irresponsible. If the cat is smart, he'll figure out how to stay out of trouble.

If I were you, I'd get a cat from a shelter or somewhere that you won't have to answer to later on.
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Old 07-24-2009, 01:40 PM  
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Okay this is jmo but if you know that these dogs have a high prey drive it would be too much of a risk if it was me. I have seen dogs kill cats, I still have nightmares with the sound of a dying cat so I couldn't do it and would never forgive myself if I knew I put that cat in that situation. Yes cat can run, climb and what not but there are times where they may slip and fall from where they are into the waiting pack of dogs. I wouldn't do it, too much of a risk.
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:36 PM  
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I have 2 outdoor cats that live in my barn...they have a kitty door to go in and out and have a heated cat shelter for winter....they do just fine.

As for dogs?.....get a cat from a barn cat family, not a little kitten. IMO, barn cats are a breed all there own, tough as nails and would have a better chance at outsmarting the dogs.

My horses will chase my cats, nevermind the dogs.

I had a blind dog, and one of my barn cats was so mean to him. The cat would make sure the dog smelled him and then try to chase him. The cat would get the dog heading toward the bushline, then the cat would double back, stand with us and watch the dog "look" for him....mean barn cats....but I have no varmits!
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:39 PM  
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Okay so a little of both ... yes... no... maybe...

Trust me I care about the cats welfare I was just wondering everyone else's intake and or advice.

The people with the cats know I want a barn cat, the one lady I let her know of the situation, I will find out more and see what to do.
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:42 PM  
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I just adopted a barn kitty from Animal Control last week (had to save his little life). We made sure this kitty was a good hunter, testing his stalking drive in the cage. He seems to be doing just fine in the barn although he is young, he really seems to have the "barn cat" smarts, staying close to fences when walking in the pasture, etc. We have a bobcat problem and many hawks in the air but so far he seems to know what to do. We also put a kitty door in the barn so he has better access.

You never know what will happen with your outdoor (or indoor) animal, can't guarantee anything so I would go for it. JMHO
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:49 PM  
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I too second the getting an older barn cat breed. They come with ingrained smarts on how to stay alive. Or find a semi feral cat, one from the shelter that is been picked up off the street and not particularly friendly. Keep them in an area that the dogs can't get into (say the feed room or something where you can lock them in) until they learn that their is food there and comfort and then let them out. We have had good luck doing this at the co-op barn where I board.

Sad as it sounds, cats are one of the more disposible animals on a farm. You can't expect them to live long as there are just too many unknown things they can get into or be eaten by. If you don't want to get a cat for that reason you could always try the ultra sonic mice and rat deterants or only buy as much feed as you can fit in large garbage bins. We only feed our cats during the winter and in the summer they eat just what they can catch and they are all fat. Females are usually better at hunting than males especially if they have babies.
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:57 PM  
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I never thought about it.....my little tiny female is the most ruthless of hunters.....her fat neutered male buddy is kinda lazy and we've even seen her make a kill, then he goes and steals it from her...

....also the little tiny female cat came from a litter of half wild barn cats. A friend would catch the wild kittens, get them tame enough to give away as barn cats and that little tiny cat has been the best hunter. She's still half wild, will only come around us, and loves my husband best....
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:58 PM  
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The reality is an outdoor cats life expectancy is only 2-4 years. (Not my statistic but a real one ha ha) I have owned around 6 barn cats in 8 years and 2 are still surviving.

One was shot by someone and I took her to the vet but her shoulder was too damaged to save her. And 3 were hit by cars. The 2 I have do get chased by my dogs (a doberman), and a little cattle dog mix, they chase them I think just for fun but they are MUCH faster than the dogs, They run under the cars or to the barn. He (the doberman) doesn't chase the inside cats because one of my indoor cats has claws and she let him know the day we brought him home what would happen if he bothered her (a bloody nose!) So I don't choose to have 2 many barn cats at one time because I don't want them to get killed on the road. I do however have 5 inside cats.

That said I do feel at least they are neutered and I do vaccinate them even though they are outside cats because in my opinion I do not want to contribute to overpopulation any more than it already is. I also feed my barn cats. Some people believe it or not rarely feed theirs, but I can't do that.

Another thing to think about is I have barn cats but still have mice. And my female barn cat is a terrific hunter but little mice run pretty fast. My daughter just found a nest of mice yesterday in the barn. I even occasionally get a mouse or 2 in my garage and I have 5 inside cats who have a cat door to go into the garage to their food and litter boxes.

So adopt a barn cat, get it neutered and hope for the best. All my barn cats have been rescued cats off the streets, or from other farms where they didn't spay and neuter. I really really believe all outside animals need to be neutered, just my opinion!
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:32 AM  
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I would say you probably will be ok if they are a little bit older. If not I would keep them locked in the room with the cat door (so they learn that is their safe place) and only let them out when supervised closely.

We had bad luck with our cats last year - the coyotes and bob cats and hawks. But we had 5 and they were wonderers. This year we got one single Maine Coon (known to be big tough cats) female and she is REALLY smart and is sticking pretty close to the barn. However I do have a JRT with a high prey drive, he will not hurt the cats but likes to chase if it is running. Mouse (the cat) has already learned that when the JRT gives her a "look" she goes and hides in her barn! We make sure she has a safe place to get up out of the way (on top of a big dog crate), which is also where her food is kept.

I also agree with getting a kitten who is from a line of barn cats, or has some natural skills/instincts.

Good luck! Kitties are so much fun!
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:52 AM  
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We had an adult cat adopt us. I explained to her that if the Malinois reached her I couldn't promise they wouldn't hurt her - my dogs are not generally in the barn w/out me, and so far BK (Barn Kitty) has always been safe - hangs out up on the hay or up high. I don't doubt for a minute that if she were out in the open, and running - that my dogs would chase - but so far that hasn't happened. She was laying under the trailer one day and my Cairn was sniffing around and she jumped out, spat at him and he back peddled like crazy.

She seems to take care of herself. But...she also has a huge distrust of the dogs - so that I am sure helps her.
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:42 AM  
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Much as I believe in neutering, if all barn cats were neutered, where would the next generation of barn cats come from????

And yes, I would get some cats for your barn. They will figure out the dog risks and act accordingly. We have garage cats, all neutered, and they are now about 12 years old! No mice around our house. Our neighbor's cat keeps the mice under control in our barn.
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:48 AM  
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Oh I definatly agree that all barn cats should be spayed and neutered. But there are lots of people who don't. So I was just saying that picking up one of those kittens would be a good option.

My barn cat is not just a barn cat, I consider her part of my animal family too. I am just way to allergic to have her live inside with us, so I make the best possible life for her in my barn. She LOVES the mice, and thinks they are the greatest toys ever, even better than the ones we buy her!
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:51 AM  
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I, too, vote for an older, wiser cat that's been a barn cat. My dogs will chase the cats...or attempt to. The cats give them a couple of swipes or a hiss and a growl and it's done. However, the mama cats protect the babies from the dogs.

I love my barn cats since I have very few mice and no snakes and they keep the rabbits from the garden. However, I don't name them. The owls, coyotes, bobcats....
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Old 07-29-2009, 11:06 AM  
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I guess my outside cats didn't read the statistics. I have 4 cats outside that have been with us for 10 years or longer(the youngest is 10). They are all out of barn cat stock bred and raised outside. I have seen them tear into the dog with all four sets of claws and teeth. The dog ended up being the one to run. I did have two house raised cats go missing, though one of them may have gotten into a car(as passenger, not the engine). She loved to go for rides in the car.

As we do have foxes around so all our cats are spayed or neutered so they can't be called out for eating. Foxes mimic the sound of a male cat. I do see mice dead on the lawn or porch, but don't see live ones ever. I only feed in the winter regularly and maybe 1/4 cup every couple days per cat in the summer. They are all very fat and sassy.
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Old 07-29-2009, 11:11 AM  
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Yeah, what they said. My dogs have bowed down to my barn cats.
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:17 PM  
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Dogs will kill mice too. If they have the run of the property and sometimes get into the barn, and one of the dogs has a strong hunting instict, do you really need a cat?
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Old 07-29-2009, 03:54 PM  
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Having barn cats myself, or rather barn cat (barn cat number two rarely visits the barn!), I can understand both your need and desire for a barn feline. If you weigh the options and decide that a cat is coming home, I agree with the countless others in that it needs to be of barn or wild stock. Our two came to us as kittens from a friend with an entire population of feral cats living in the woods behind his home. These cats were so wild that when our Daddy asked us to pick out the ones that we wanted, the man literally laughed out loud, handed us a fishing net, and said "Use this." Kitten one, Domino, came home that night thanks to some fast nabbing by yours truly; caught in the net as she was jumping from a tree to the roof of his house. Kitten two, Happy, was caught overnight in a live-trap meant for raccoons and such; purely a happenstance that the chosen cat went into the trap.

They will be 10 or 11 this year, I can't remember exactly, but are the best mousers ever. I hadn't seen one since we got them, except for this morning but my little sis has been keeping him inside the last few days, she's going to college soon and trying to get her "Happy fix" before she leaves. Never really a health problem to speak of, and they have outwitted many a loose dog, coyote, snotty Shetland, and various other predators.

So, long stosy short, I vote for a cat that you have to nab with a net...can't go wrong!
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Old 07-29-2009, 04:08 PM  
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You've been forewarned about the dogs at the barn (it is their home)----I would not put a cat or kitten at risk in such a situation. It's not fair to the cat.
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Old 07-29-2009, 05:29 PM  
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I don't suppose there's any way to keep those dogs away from the barn, as far as physical measures go? Good that the owner is working on training them though, that's a start.

I've seen a lot of barn cats come and go, we tend to get "donated" ones that just don't work out in homes. Definitely agree with the above, if you want to try it, try an existing barn cat that knows the ropes.

Our best barn cat is definitely a breed of his own. We got him from an old couple because he just terrorized their house, I'm not sure where they got him from but I'm willing to bet a farm of some sort. He kills EVERYTHING, and leaves many many presents, and has survived for an impressive amount of time in an area teeming with coyotes, bears, and often loose dogs from a nearby kennel. Real barn cats are survivors, on top of everything else they have horse hooves to dodge!

You know these dogs and can gauge the risk better than us, but if the dogs really aren't around much and this is getting less frequent all the time, and there are a lot of hiding places and escape routes, it might be worth a try. With this massive risk in any barn comes one of the best lives a cat could have, this is what they're meant to do! Our barn cat is the happiest cat I've ever met- he seems half wild and has the survival skills of a lynx, but still comes when he's called by someone he knows and trusts and enjoys being loved on

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