Barn cats (keeping cats outdoors) - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-01-2009, 12:03 PM
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These are our two newest family members. They are a brother and sister duo who are apparently very attached to each other - we are going to pick them up tonight.



We are adopting them to keep our barn free of mice and the like. They will be kept ONLY in the barn for a few months until they are older and better able to fend for themselves, then we will start letting them roam the property. I've already checked the barn itself to make sure (to the best of my ability) that there are no places for them to squeeze out.



They will be sterilized, get their wormer/shots, and probably microchipped as well as collared to make sure they'll be returned if animal control picks them up. We're going to keep beds for them on both floors of the barn, and they'll be fed in there as well. We keep the barn chained up because we have expensive farm equipment in there, but when they are old enough we will rig the chain long enough to leave them about five inches to squeeze in. That way the cats can come and go as they please, but possums, raccoons, coyotes, and tractor thieves stay out.



I have never owned an outdoor cat in my entire life, so I'm honestly a little apprehensive about it. We have about 15 acres of fields between the barn and any back road, much less a main drag, so I'm not that concerned about them playing in traffic. We do have raccoons and a small pack of coyotes living on the property though.



Anyone here keep their cats outside or indoors/outdoors? Any advice? Is there anything I'm not thinking of?



Edit: Anyone who is vehemently against keeping outdoor cats, please spare me the lecture. These cats were acquired as working animals. I'm well aware of the Great Indoor/Outdoor Cat Debate(tm). And rest assured, I will be doing my absolute best to make sure these kitties stay healthy, happy, and on-property.
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#2 Old 10-01-2009, 12:14 PM
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It is not highly suggestable to do so. Even PETA had an article about it this week. (I'm not a big fan of theirs, but I do agree with their stance on this subject.)



http://living.peta.org/2009/if-you-l...eep-her-inside



When I was in school some of the country boys would joke about getting their kicks from shoving firecrackers into cats rectums and lighting them up. I also know a man who, before I knew him, would troll the country side looking for cats for his dog to "play with".



Also keep in mind that the average lifespan of a cat allowed outside on a regular basis is only about 5 years, while indoor cat's average is 13-15 years. (yes, I know there are acceptions, before someone mentions their cat that lived to be 100 outside.)



Is there a way the cats could be kept exclusively in the barn?



By the way, they are adorable!
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#3 Old 10-01-2009, 12:46 PM
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When I was in school some of the country boys would joke about getting their kicks from shoving firecrackers into cats rectums and lighting them up. I also know a man who, before I knew him, would troll the country side looking for cats for his dog to "play with".



I don't think this (animal torturers) will be as much of a problem for us either - when I say we are off the main road, I mean we are way off the main road. We are surrounded by forest on two sides of our land, and the only close neighbors we have are an elderly couple with three cats of their own. The nearest neighbors beyond them are miles away.



When I say we live in the boondocks, I mean it. It is literally BFE.



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Is there a way the cats could be kept exclusively in the barn?



No, which is why I mentioned that any suggestions to just keep the cats indoors really aren't what I'm looking for in the advice department... A significant part of their future job as working cats (once they are quite a bit older - I'm certainly not putting kittens outside!) will also be to keep rabbits and other small herbivores out of our greenhouses and gardens at night, as well as keep field mice away from our house.



We will apparently have a pretty bad rodent problem when winter comes, according to the woman who used to live here. And every time they bushhog the pastures.



However, the Dastardly Duo will probably spend most of their time in the barn, especially during the winter. And my roommate/business partner is working exclusively from home and outdoors for much of the time (farmer) so they will be under quite a bit of supervision as well. We are exclusively organic farmers (no pesticides to worry about) and very conscious of the antifreeze issue as we already have a small dog.



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By the way, they are adorable!



Thank you! My only cat now (an indoor cat) is over 14 years old and nearly toothless (no help in the rodent department!) so I am way excited to have kittens on the homestead again.



But we're sterilizing them, because two is enough.
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#4 Old 10-01-2009, 12:48 PM
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We don't have any cats here, but there are several that live in the little cow barn next door. They do pass through, but return home there everynight. They aren't spayed or neutered (I wish they were). They do take care of lots of mice. I see them pouncing in the feild during the day.



Your kitties are adorable!!
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#5 Old 10-01-2009, 12:53 PM
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It is not highly suggestable to do so. Even PETA had an article about it this week. (I'm not a big fan of theirs, but I do agree with their stance on this subject.)



http://living.peta.org/2009/if-you-l...eep-her-inside



When I was in school some of the country boys would joke about getting their kicks from shoving firecrackers into cats rectums and lighting them up. I also know a man who, before I knew him, would troll the country side looking for cats for his dog to "play with".



Also keep in mind that the average lifespan of a cat allowed outside on a regular basis is only about 5 years, while indoor cat's average is 13-15 years. (yes, I know there are acceptions, before someone mentions their cat that lived to be 100 outside.)



Is there a way the cats could be kept exclusively in the barn?



By the way, they are adorable!



I think it would be better for them to always live outside rather than live longer shut up in doors. Quality of life should outweigh quantity
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#6 Old 10-01-2009, 12:56 PM
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I would personally never keep a cat outside.
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#7 Old 10-01-2009, 12:58 PM
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I would personally never keep a cat outside.



Why? Is it because you live in the city?
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#8 Old 10-01-2009, 01:03 PM
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Why? Is it because you live in the city?



I don't live in a city. but, the OP doesn't want to hear from people who think it's wrong to keep cats outside, and I do, and I also think it's wrong to adopt cats just to "work"/keep small animals "under control". So I guess I should leave this thread.
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#9 Old 10-01-2009, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by animallover7249 View Post

I don't live in a city. but, the OP doesn't want to hear from people who think it's wrong to keep cats outside, and I do, and I also think it's wrong to adopt cats just to "work"/keep small animals "under control". So I guess I should leave this thread.



Its an open forum, and youve already expressed what you feel!
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#10 Old 10-01-2009, 01:19 PM
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Your kitties are adorable!!



Thank you!



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I don't live in a city. but, the OP doesn't want to hear from people who think it's wrong to keep cats outside, and I do, and I also think it's wrong to adopt cats just to "work"/keep small animals "under control". So I guess I should leave this thread.



We are not adopting them "just to work" - they are pets first and farmhands second. (For the record - and everybody on this farm works in one way or the other. Except my current cat - she's effectively retired. )



Hence the great lengths I am going to in order to ensure their safety, happiness, etc...if I just wanted any old cats to keep the place clear of mice, I would just pick up some free kittens and let them loose around the place to propagate and roam however they wanted. Or I would just trap and/or poison pest animals and avoid keeping cats altogether.



Obviously, that's not my situation. And whether or not y'all agree with the cats being outdoors, they are being saved from being euthanized as a result of the pet overpopulation problem. That is why they were chosen as well.



And the reason I don't really care to hear from the "I don't believe cats should be kept outdoors" crowd is because a) I have a strong understanding of the controversy surrounding outdoor cats, and b) whether or not the cats will be indoors isn't up for debate. It's not because I don't value the opinion of peeps who disagree with me, it's just that in this case those opinions are really not that helpful to me, as they will be barn cats regardless.



I am really just looking for any advice/words of experience from people who do keep outdoor cats, or know people who do.
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#11 Old 10-01-2009, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by animallover7249 View Post

I don't live in a city. but, the OP doesn't want to hear from people who think it's wrong to keep cats outside, and I do, and I also think it's wrong to adopt cats just to "work"/keep small animals "under control". So I guess I should leave this thread.



I know this might get me jumped on from the mice loving crowd, but trust me, for well fed cats the act of hunting mice and rats is not "work", it's FUN TIME!!!

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#12 Old 10-01-2009, 01:50 PM
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I know this might get me jumped on from the mice loving crowd, but trust me, for well fed cats the act of hunting mice and rats is not "work", it's FUN TIME!!!



This is why I emphasized that the cats are going to be fed. Every day. (Lest people think that we are going to starve these sweet babies in order to urge them to hunt for their supper.) We certainly aren't going to be forcing them. Cats just fall into that farm job with natural grace.



Come to think of it, I'm not sure you can effectively force a cat to do anything.
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#13 Old 10-01-2009, 02:18 PM
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When I say we live in the boondocks, I mean it. It is literally BFE.



You're very lucky. I would love to live in a place like that. I wish you the best of luck with the kitties!



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Thank you! My only cat now (an indoor cat) is over 14 years old and nearly toothless (no help in the rodent department!)



What? Your mice won't stay still long enough for him to gum them to death?







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I think it would be better for them to always live outside rather than live longer shut up in doors. Quality of life should outweigh quantity



I have never understood how exposing my cats to pesticide laced lawns, yummy tasting anti-freeze, neighbors who would go out of their way to hurt them, vehicles who either won't see them or won't care, parasite ridden prey, larger predators, inclimate weather, and fights with other cats raises their "quality" of life. It seems to me a good way to have them come to an early and possibly excrutiatingly painful death. But that's just my opinion. You are welcome to yours.
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#14 Old 10-01-2009, 02:24 PM
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You're very lucky. I would love to live in a place like that. I wish you the best of luck with the kitties!



Thanks! Hopefully with enough careful preparation, supervision, and preventative care, they won't need too much luck.



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What? Your mice won't stay still long enough for him to gum them to death?



My housecat Samantha disdains mice. I've seen her watch one run across the floor and actually yawn at it. Silly, lazy thing. But she's spoiled rotten - what can you do?



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I have never understood how exposing my cats to pesticide laced lawns, yummy tasting anti-freeze, neighbors who would go out of their way to hurt them, vehicles who either won't see them or won't care, parasite ridden prey, larger predators, inclimate weather, and fights with other catsraises their "quality" of life. It seems to me a good way to have them come to an early and possibly excrutiatingly painful death. But that's just my opinion. You are welcome to yours.



All the problems I am looking for advice from outdoor cat owners on to reduce these dangers as much as humanly possible. Optimally, I would prefer the cats be inside and have always preferred cats to be kept indoors, but for my situation it just isn't a viable option. And I want these sweethearts to be farm mascots for a long time.
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#15 Old 10-01-2009, 03:01 PM
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I had two mousers when we lived back home, a male and female pair of wild cats that just... stumbled onto our property, and didn't EVER leave.





The only thing you have to worry about, from what I can tell, is your baby's bringing home "presents". The female we had brought us home EVERY mouse she caught.





Also, If you have any birds of prey in the area, they Will be a concern as they can take a small/medium cat.



other than they, cats have done well outside, especially with the environment you're providing for them.

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#16 Old 10-01-2009, 03:14 PM
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Might it be best then, instead of acquiring house cats, to talk to a rescue organization about acquiring some feral cats to live on the property? Rescues are often looking for people to take feral/semi feral cats. They'd be well suited to live outside and hunt things, and be happy with a shelter and food that did not involve much human contact.

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#17 Old 10-01-2009, 03:19 PM
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Ohhh how cute !

My half brother and sister's grandparents (as in, no relation to me, but really nice people) have a few cats outside. They don't live just in the barn, they're welcome to come sit up on the porch and all that. They leave food and milk out in-case they haven't gotten anything to eat, and seem to live quite along time, but alot of them have gotten hit by cars, some living and some not. But I myself have nothing against it, as a matter of fact, a mother barn cat had a baby on their porch! My step mom birthed it, and they kept the little guy .
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#18 Old 10-01-2009, 03:21 PM
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Have you looked to see if there are any feral cat rescue programs in your area? Or any trap, spay, release programs?



Near me, there is a rescue that spays and neuters ferals and strays that HATE people and adopts them out as mousers so that they can have a place to call home and get the care they need.



I don't think cats should live outside. It is far too dangerous, no matter where you live as far as I'm concerned.



Are the cats currently indoor with people? It would be cruel to take them away from the life they've always know to "work" for you.
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#19 Old 10-01-2009, 03:32 PM
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I agree with rabid_child about getting adult cats who are used to an outdoor lifestyle.



There is an immense amount of difference among cats, as far as "street smarts" are concerned. Some have no sense of self preservation with regard to the dangers faced outdoors, while others are very wily. Most kittens who do not have a mother to teach them the tricks of the trade will not only NOT be good hunters (which is one of your reasons for getting cats), but will not last long outside.



I grew up on the farm where I am once again living, and can tell you from experience that, with the exception of the wily ones (who are actually in the minority), the average feline life span was one to two years, and that was with being well fed, having plenty of outbuildings for shelter, vet care, etc.



If the pack of coyotes is actutually living on your property, these kittens' chances for surviving more than a few months are not good; again, an adult cat with experience of the dangers of the outdoors would have more of a chance.



We're constantly getting cats dumped here, and this year we have really pushed the limit of the cats we can bring indoors, so next year, we're going to have to keep new dumpees as barn cats. However, we will be doing it with the full knowledge that they will most probably have only a year or two of life. (And the nearest coyote pack stays about a mile away - that pack kills about a dozen cats on our neighbors' property every year.)
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#20 Old 10-01-2009, 04:50 PM
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It would definitely be a smarter plan to look into adopting a (semi) feral cat for your property. That way you are providing a home for a cat that would not be comfortable in an indoor setting. Also, the cat would already have some survival skills and be more likely to live.



If you have coyotes nearby any outdoor cat on your property will likely have a short life span. The vast majority of cats are simply not that good at avoiding larger predators. I can't think of any way you can effectively reduce the risk of predation.
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#21 Old 10-01-2009, 05:29 PM
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I have never understood how exposing my cats to pesticide laced lawns, yummy tasting anti-freeze, neighbors who would go out of their way to hurt them, vehicles who either won't see them or won't care, parasite ridden prey, larger predators, inclimate weather, and fights with other cats raises their "quality" of life. It seems to me a good way to have them come to an early and possibly excrutiatingly painful death. But that's just my opinion. You are welcome to yours.



I find it so interesting how the attitudes to cat ownership vary so greatly between the USA ans the UK. Here it is pretty abnormal for any cat to be an indoor only cat, many people think it's pretty cruel to keep them in. And thats not just the opinion of people who couldn't care less, i've seen a fair few cat rescues where access to outside is an absolute requirement for rehomeing a cat. The quality of a cats life (there is no doubt that being outside gives a cat far more stimulation than indoors) seems to be far more important in the UK than a cats safety and longevity whereas in the US it's the other way round.
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#22 Old 10-01-2009, 05:52 PM
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I find it so interesting how the attitudes to cat ownership vary so greatly between the USA ans the UK. Here it is pretty abnormal for any cat to be an indoor only cat, many people think it's pretty cruel to keep them in. And thats not just the opinion of people who couldn't care less, i've seen a fair few cat rescues where access to outside is an absolute requirement for rehomeing a cat. The quality of a cats life (there is no doubt that being outside gives a cat far more stimulation than indoors) seems to be far more important in the UK than a cats safety and longevity whereas in the US it's the other way round.



People in the US care about cat's quality of life, too.
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#23 Old 10-01-2009, 05:53 PM
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I find it so interesting how the attitudes to cat ownership vary so greatly between the USA ans the UK. Here it is pretty abnormal for any cat to be an indoor only cat, many people think it's pretty cruel to keep them in. And thats not just the opinion of people who couldn't care less, i've seen a fair few cat rescues where access to outside is an absolute requirement for rehomeing a cat. The quality of a cats life (there is no doubt that being outside gives a cat far more stimulation than indoors) seems to be far more important in the UK than a cats safety and longevity whereas in the US it's the other way round.



I've always thought that interesting also. I do think that there are some practical reasons - in the U.S., there tend to be more predators around. Coyotes can be found well into many suburban areas here. Also, I suspect that more people here live relatively close to roads where traffic travels quickly. There are relatively few places where cats are not at very significant risk of being run over. Finally, the yards here are likely to be expanses of lawn, whereas English yards tend to offer an environment more enticing to a cat, and so perhaps your cats tend to not roam all that far from the house. Just some thoughts.



My cats, btw, have access to a very sizeable outdoor cat enclosure (the size of a small city yard), which they enjoy very much.
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#24 Old 10-01-2009, 06:57 PM
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My husband swears cats should be able to be outside cats or, in his words, they become "snarky." When we were dating his outside cat did come in to visit and I think that particular cat was just snarky, he used to bite!! Anyway, he and I had many debates on the inside vs outside animal situation. We are just opposite in that regard. I am hopelessly impractical and would like every animal including big barn yard ones to be in the house and spoiled..lol (*I've given cows, and even a bull baths... don't ask!)



That said, although I couldn't do it myself, cats do seem to far pretty well outside for some reason. I think it's great that you are giving the kitties a home where they will be fed and spayed/neutered so that they won't be making lots of babies.



As far as the raccoons go, we have them around here, I've seen them and there are cats around here too. They just seem to avoid each other.
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#25 Old 10-01-2009, 07:20 PM
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As far as the raccoons go, we have them around here, I've seen them and there are cats around here too. They just seem to avoid each other.



My concern was this statement: "We do have raccoons and a small pack of coyotes living on the property though."



Coyotes feast on cats (and small dogs). Chances are that kittens who have not been trained into adulthood by a very savy mom cat aren't going to have a chance against coyotes.



If you can lock the cats into the barn at night it would improve their chances with respect to the coyotes.
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#26 Old 10-01-2009, 08:38 PM
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Coyotes + outside cats = __________.
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#27 Old 10-01-2009, 08:45 PM
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Coyotes + outside cats = __________.



Yeah, with coyotes hunting in packs, even a smart cat doesn't stand a real chance.
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#28 Old 10-01-2009, 08:55 PM
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Might it be best then, instead of acquiring house cats, to talk to a rescue organization about acquiring some feral cats to live on the property? Rescues are often looking for people to take feral/semi feral cats. They'd be well suited to live outside and hunt things, and be happy with a shelter and food that did not involve much human contact.



The mother of these kittens is actually a semi-feral stray, so they're not exactly housecats - they were born and raised outside for awhile before being brought in. The female kitten is still quite wild, and the male is skittish, but they will warm up eventually I think.



I actually looked into feral/barn cat rescue, but there are none in my home state. And honestly, I wanted cats that like some human contact - they are pets first and mousers second.



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I don't think cats should live outside. It is far too dangerous, no matter where you live as far as I'm concerned.



Again, I appreciate your concerns, but these cats are going to live outside. We simply can't (and aren't willing) to keep them indoors. They were adopted under the stipulation that they would be farm cats.



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Are the cats currently indoor with people? It would be cruel to take them away from the life they've always know to "work" for you.



If these kittens weren't taken by me, they would have been headed to a kill shelter. And the "life they've always known" is only a few weeks long...I am sure they will adapt quickly.



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If the pack of coyotes is actutually living on your property, these kittens' chances for surviving more than a few months are not good; again, an adult cat with experience of the dangers of the outdoors would have more of a chance.



I am actually not sure if they are living on the property - we just hear coyotes nearby at night, and we have heard their pups howling as well. Acoustics are funny though - they could be several miles away. And I am a "city girl"...my roommate (who has lived in the country his entire life) has assured me that my paranoia over the coyotes is unfounded. We keep strong blazing security lights going over the barn area and the house every night, and according to him, this will also ward off major predators.



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It would definitely be a smarter plan to look into adopting a (semi) feral cat for your property.



This would be good, except a) I don't really want feral cats, b) there are no barn cat rescues in my area, and c) I have already adopted these two kittens and have no plans to rehome them. They're sleeping in my bathroom as we speak (just for tonight, until we have a chance tomorrow to double-check the barn for danger, set up an enclosure for them, etc...)



Quote:
If you can lock the cats into the barn at night it would improve their chances with respect to the coyotes.



I am still strongly considering this as an option to protect them, at least until they are completely full grown and savvy, since a lot of their hunting will be conducted in the barn anyway, and I am hoping to train them to come back to the barn when I rattle their bag of kibble.
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#29 Old 10-01-2009, 09:07 PM
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I am still strongly considering this as an option to protect them, at least until they are completely full grown and savvy, since a lot of their hunting will be conducted in the barn anyway, and I am hoping to train them to come back to the barn when I rattle their bag of kibble.



If you get them into the habit of expecting a good meal just before dusk, your chances of getting the into the barn at night will be greatly improved. For that reason, I wouldn't have food out during the afternoon - you'll want them to have a strong interest in showing up in the barn before dark.



The yard light won't keep coyotes at bay - our neighbors' entire farmyard is very well lighted. The only reason that the coyotes don't hang out at our place is the strong presence of our dogs - our Great Pyrenees demands to go out several times during the night (which is why I'm always sleep deprived ); she is extremely attuned to everything that goes on outside, even when all the windows are closed.
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#30 Old 10-01-2009, 10:47 PM
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Here it is pretty abnormal for any cat to be an indoor only cat, many people think it's pretty cruel to keep them in.



So I should let my cats outside when I live in the heart of downtown Seattle? Where hundreds of buses and cars go by my apartment building every hour? Yeah, that'd really be the humane thing to do It all depends on where you live in the US. In the suburbs it would be *sort of safe* to allow cats to come and go as the pleased, same in the country side(save for areas where big game wildlife is bountiful), but in the city, it's a death sentence. You really can't go around making statements like "The quality of the cats life is more important to people in the UK because they let them outside" without considering how diverse a place the states are, and how "safe" it is for cats to be outside veries greatly based on where they live.



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Originally Posted by animallover7249 View Post

People in the US care about cat's quality of life, too.



What? You haven't heard? American's are evil beings who toture companion cats by declawing them and make them live terrible, boring lives inside for their own amusement It's true (<---I've actually been told something along these lines multiple times by people on a UK based forum I frequent)
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