Yard cats

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Yard cats

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    09-29-2013, 09:11 PM
Yard cats

I think this passes for horse talk?

I've moved house and we're planning on using a section of the old back barn as a stable or two. It is safe as in its not going to fall down anytime soon but I'm pretty sure there's mice and rats galore.

I was thinking of getting a few kittens(barn probably won't be ready until they're a good age anyway) or possibly a semi-feral cat(loads needing homes here)
My question is, will any cat hunt?
Do cats actually "work"? I've seen a pet cat take down a magpie and kill it and that's the sort of born killer I'm after lol not really I just want something to keep the mice at bay.

What about rats? A mouse running by me I can cope with but a RAT!

Will you get a good "yard" cat from a docile "pet" cat or would I have to find a kitten from a yard cat?

I hope I don't sound too stupid lol, I've never owned a cat before and have no idea how they work as regards to hunting etc just general care.
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    09-29-2013, 09:56 PM
I know I lot of people say cats are the best thing. But think about the cats point of view. They have to hunt to live. If they don't hunt well, such as kittens and are not shown. They will go hungry. They could even die. Its also super hard on them. As mice and rats can carry bad things, such as worms and other things. So the cats can get them, and die a sad death. If I where you. I would set some traps, or go get some garden snakes.We have one around at my barn who is around 4 feet long. He does his job super well. He hangs around the hay and inside the grain room and takes care of the mice for us. He even lets up pick him up and move him where we see mice. Nice old snake.
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    09-29-2013, 11:31 PM
If you do get cats I have found that in my case it has always been the females that were the consisitant hunters. Please be sure to feed them and don't make them depend on what they catch as their only source of food. My male cats always got lazy after a couple of years. My cats are all indoor/outdoor cats.
Feral cats are not a good idea. No way to take them in for vaccines and spaying/neutering.
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    09-29-2013, 11:32 PM
Ohhhh....some dogs are Great rat and mice killers.
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    09-29-2013, 11:36 PM
If you want mousers, get a few semi-feral cats. As previously mentioned, if you get kittens, they may never have had a chance to learn to hunt properly from their mothers. The semi-ferals, on the other hand, will know what that is all about. I recommend putting out a meal a day for them anyways- as we all know, even well-fed housecats will still hunt and kill, so no worries about that putting them off their job. Plan on trying to trap them once a year or so for a checkup, deworming and any vaccines that are necessary.

I am a solid fan of barn cats myself. Poison has a bad way of winding up where it shouldn't be and then pets and kids get into it. Traps work a little, but they're a PITA to keep up with and can get rather disgusting if you miss one for a bit.

Ratsnakes are amazing creatures too- around here not only do they go after the rodents, but also the rattlesnakes and other dangerous snakes as well. Not everyone can handle having snakes around though... ;)
    09-29-2013, 11:41 PM
Our 20lbs one-year-old (neutered) male cat is one hell of a mouser. We found him as a 6-week-old baby outside a bar, but he's been an indoor kitty ever since (except for the odd adventure outside while we're in the yard, but always under our watchful eye). He's caught a couple of mice, including one that led him on a merry chase.

Our baby (a 12-week-old male) is shaping up to be a good hunter, too. He's caught several moths and helped Cosmo (the older cat) catch a baby mouse. He is a strictly indoor cat.

That being said, my 60lbs 6yo male Aussie/st Bernard mix is a better mouser than any cat I've ever had or seen.
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    09-30-2013, 03:44 AM
Yes cats definitely work. I'd pick a kitten(s) from known mousers, or the semi feral cats/kittens, either way. My current best mouser is a kitten I got at 2 weeks old and had no mama to learn from! He is a male, although I would say in general females do seem to be a little better. I haven't seen any mice in a long time (so I guess they are working perfectly), so I don't even know if my youngest cat would know what to do with one, but based on the hunting skills he shows with bugs and spiders I'm better he'd be pretty great at it!

And side note, it would never even cross my mind that you wouldn't feed your cat (and you absolutely will want to spay and neuter if you don't want your numbers to jump to 60 in the next few years (or maybe not if you didn't feed them)), but since one poster seems to think that is the case I guess it is worth mentioning that you do still have to feed them.
    09-30-2013, 07:02 AM
I'd feed them yes I'd never dream of not feeding them, who would? I've been told to feed just enough to keep them going to keep them keen to hunt but I won't starve them, I'm not one.

I'm going to get a kitten this evening off of a friend, his cats are keen mousers although they are friendly the kitten hasn't been handled much at all so I would say its semi-feral..
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    09-30-2013, 10:57 AM
We have two farm cats, the older female is a gun at hunting, regularly gets mice, rats, rabbits, parrots etc. We've had her since she was abandoned by her mother as a 4 week old kitten, so she's a self taught hunter LOL
We have a younger male, and he is a hopeless hunter. Going on breeding, he should be awesome, his mum is our female, his dad was a feral. He'd rather play with a mouse than kill it.
Both cats are also house pets and spend a lot of time lolling about inside, but they ( or rather the female anyway) do a great job on the mice etc.
They might get a helping hand from the two kelpies, but they are not the best hunters.
Sharpie, wouldn't mind a rat snake, but our only native snakes around here are highly venomous and generally get " relocated " if they are near the houses and sheds.
    09-30-2013, 11:48 AM
My BO has several barn cats, including my vrother's former cat. My brother's cat was a terrified thing that his constantly when he lived with my brother (who is a bachelor, lives by himself and is into show tunes and Barbara Streisand lol). Mr Kitty was an indoor cat his entire life, but after escaping for the fourth time and my brother having to use a live trap to catch him, I asked my BO if she wanted him for a barn cat. She immediately said yes (who wouldn't want a striking pure white cat with one blue eye and one green eye?!). So I made all the arrangements and Mr Kitty went to live at the barn. My BO treats her cats extremely well (they have their own room in the barn with beds, toys, litter boxes, food down constantly, and their own private entrance to the room so the dogs and pig can't get in) and they still catch mice all the time. Mr Kitty (now named Cracker) has completely come out of his shell and is now a barn favorite. He loves everyone, including the big male pot-belly pig named Guido, and isn't even remotely afraid of the horses.

Point being, even well-fed cats will hunt mice. My BO has zero problems with mice. All the cats she has were adopted from the local HS, AC or rescues as semi-feral or feral (except Mr Kitty/Cracker, of course). Most of them were labeled as "unadoptable" because they were so scared/wild. Some of them still need to be handled with gloves because they're just downright mean, but some, like Mr Kitty/Cracker and a big black long-haired tom named Bear, are absolute sweethearts.
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