Wednesday, January 5, 2011
On Barn Cats
The Barn Cat. The little creatures that everyone thinks about when they do think about the barns on the farm. Most farms do have them. The pictures above are of 2 of mine...Splash and Tansy. They have no interest in coming in the house and seem quite content outdoors. They don't bother the birds much at all, but mice, moles, shrews and such are a different story.
Unfortunately, many barn cats come to us, and friends of mine with barns, by way of being dropped off. It seems that when you have a barn or out buildings, you become the target for every idiot that decides to throw a cat out the door of their car. But, they do pay their way.
There are many myths about barn cats, but there is one that I want to address, and that is on feeding your barn cats. Many feel that, if they feed their barn cats, they won't be good mousers. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, stop feeding your barn cats, and you will end up with no barn cats. If no one fed you, after awhile you'd simply leave. And many do.
My cats are fed twice a day, morning and late afternoon. This doesn't stop them for doing their job at all. Late spring, summer and fall especially, they are still doing their job, with full bellies. And I have noticed the difference since they've been here. Fewer mouse problems in the winter, when they are most likely to go into buildings or make a home someplace in our classic summer car when it is put away for the winter. No, you don't need to starve your barn cats for them to do what's expected.
Feed them and they'll do a better job....and stay. And if you're afraid that they'll get birds that come to your feeder, then instead of putting the feeder on a tree branch, use a tall shepherds' hook. They can't climb it. Don't leave anything by it that will allow them to climb high enough to reach the feeder. Don't put near picnic tables, chairs or anything that your barn cat can climb on to get to the feeder.
And when at all possible, spay/neuter your barn cats. When you need to replace them, many places now have cats that they are specifically looking for barn homes for. They may be feral or just not people friendly. But you really don't need to "breed your own".