Threads

See more results

Topics

Usernames

Mumsnet Logo
Please
or
to access all these features

Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about the health of your pet, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.

Barn cats
13

jiskoot · 13/06/2022 17:53

Hey everyone. Sorry, long post. So, I've always had dogs but cannot at present as my DH and I are out of the house all day so we've been pondering getting a cat for a while now. We live on a small farm with land and outbuildings etc and we came across a post on FB from Cats Protection last week where they've got a couple of semi feral barn cats looking for a home and, long story short, it looks like they're moving in this week. Really need some general advice about barn cats if anyone has any?

We've got to contain them for the first two weeks so are going to set them up in a secure outbuilding with some straw etc and a cardboard box with straw in. It's a mother and son who are both neutered, she's friendlier than him apparently but to be honest we both feel like if they want to be friendly eventually then great but otherwise we're happy for them to do their thing outside.

How do I go about worming / de flea-ing them? Can't put a collar on them obviously, do I just need to put it in their food somehow? The fosterer has not been able to handle them and has not managed to medicate them at all. Also bit concered with getting them to a vet at any point in the future should they need it.

Also, we'd rather they ate dried food, in terms of vermin outside etc but have been advised to give them meat to begin with so they want to stay with us! I know cats can be fickle things so there are no guarantees but will they likely be okay with a switch to dried food after the two weeks are up?

Toys? No clue if outdoor cats still like the odd toy to play with.

It seems like we've got the perfect set up for them but am a bit scared as I've never owned cats before, feels cruel to leave them outside but they've got lots of barns to make themselves at home and they're mega stressed in their current set up so it's got to be an improvement.

Any general advice would be welcome, thanks :)

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

Want2beme · 13/06/2022 21:12

I don't have barn cats, but am familiar with them. I live in a rural area and there are plenty of them around here. Sadly, farmers here don't take care of their veterinary needs and barely feed them. Some of us in the village have them neutered using traps. The vets transfer them into another trap which has a mechanism to push the cat to one side, so that they can't move and can be inoculated. There's probably a YouTube video showing this. You'll need to invest in a trap or borrow one from a rescue. But, with any luck, you'll be able to get them into a normal carrier.

As far as I know, there's nothing you can put in food to de-flea. On the day you collect them, I'm assuming they'll be in carriers, take them straight to the vet, so you won't have to worry about taking them during the time that they're settling into yours.

Believe it or not, they do like to play with toys.

You can get heat pads for their beds. Have a look on this site for toy ideas.

www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/cats

Someone who knows more will be able to help. Good luck!

Please
or
to access all these features

Lonecatwithkitten · 14/06/2022 06:34

There are prescription tablet flea treatments, but your vet will need to have seen the cats to be able to prescribe. There are also obviously worm tablets. You may do better gradually gaining their trust with food so you can handle them though,

Please
or
to access all these features

tattychicken · 14/06/2022 07:37

We've got two "ferals" who live in and around the stables. When they've arrived they stayed in a large dog crate for about 3 weeks, then we let them out. They then disappeared and we didn't see them for days, but they were eating the (wet) food we left for them so we just waited it out, and then they gradually came out of hiding.

They are just wonderful cats, and fantastic hunters, leaving little "presents" almost daily. Nearly two years later they now enjoy being stroked, give head bops, and even snuck into the house in winter to sit near the Aga. Everything is on their terms.

Wormers we put in their feed. We didn't deflea for them for well over a year as we couldn't get near them, and they were fine. We can now put Frontline on them with no bother.

I'm sure your pair will be great too. Time and patience and space is what they need. With ours it's been really satisfying watching them turn from scraggy street cats from the East End of London, to solid shiny happy boys who love to sun bathe stretched out on hay bales.

If anyone is interested we got ours from New Moon Rescue near Croydon. A small but every hardworking and successful rescue.

Please
or
to access all these features

tattychicken · 14/06/2022 07:54

Re your other points, we do feed biscuits occasionally but mainly wet to be honest. They much prefer it. We didn't really bother with proper toys but they do like playing with eg baling twine, bits of hay, the end of a long schooling whip. Mice!! ๐Ÿ˜ณ

Please
or
to access all these features

watcherintherye · 14/06/2022 08:02

Iโ€™m sure you know this anyway Blushbut if you end up feeding dry food, they need a supply of water/cat milk. The only time I see my cat drinking is when heโ€™s had a good go at his dry food.

Please
or
to access all these features

thecatneuterer · 14/06/2022 12:04

I'm with a rescue which relocates feral cats. Firstly two weeks isn't really long enough to keep them in. At least three and preferably four would be a safer bet.

When cats are living outside and completely unhandleable then it does limit what you can do. As long as they have had their first vaccinations then we wouldn't advise you to keep up with yearly jabs. The stress to them (and you) of doing so would outweigh the likely benefits. And you need to avoid retrapping them unless absolutely necessary - as then if they become severely ill/injured and really need to see a vet, they may well be too trap-shy to go in the trap.

So the same will apply to flea treatments. Yes, if you can get stuff to put in the food great. Otherwise, unless they appear to be riddled with fleas and for it to be causing them severe distress, then the same logic applies as with the vaccines.

Worming tablets in food should be possible of course.

As for future vet treatment, then the charity should provide ongoing help should they ever need retrapping due to illness or accident.

They will be fine living outside in the situation you describe. If you want them to start to become more tame, and to possibly start to come into the house, then you will need a cat flap. When cats know they always have a means of escape then they become much more relaxed about coming in. You could start off, probably next Summer, just leaving the door off the flap, so that there is just a hole in the wall, and put food just inside. I have a lot of ferals that happily live alongside me as housecats. They come and go through the flap, sleep in the cat beds in the kitchen when it's cold, and don't mind if I get fairly close. They just don't want to be touched. Generally, after around 4 years or so (sometimes much sooner) most end up not minding being touched (handy for flea treating). While a few remain resolutely feral forever and some end up being soppy lap cats. You just never know.

I do think that rehoming ferals is one of the most rewarding things you can do though. I;m sure you'll have no regrets.

Please
or
to access all these features

jiskoot · 27/06/2022 22:58

Thanks for all the advice everyone. The cats moved in almost two weeks ago, both feeding well. The female is visible and is just staring (from up high) when we go in. The male has been completely hidden since about day 3 so we never see him. The plan was to keep them in until next weekend but may go an extra week as per PP, then it'll be 3.5 weeks.

Am pretty convinced that when we do let them out they'll just disappear, particularly the boy. So c'est la vie. Will keep putting food out for them, we have another barn with a hole in the door with plenty of shelter and peace so will put the food in there each day and will hope for the best.

We took a video of them the other day, just to make sure that they're both eating and that he wasnt stuck somewhere and was reassuring to see them both eating and moving around the barn when we left, got some lovely pictures of him.

Sorry for the him and her, we have got names for them both but trying not to get too attached to them!

Barn cats Barn cats
OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

Want2beme · 28/06/2022 15:42

They look so healthy. Really lovely.

As long as they've got warm beds and food on tap, they won't stray far. I've got strays/barn cats hanging around mine, (live next door to a farm), and sleeping in my cats cathouse. One of my cats lets them into the kitchen via the microchip catflap, and they help themselves to grubGrin

Please
or
to access all these features

thecatneuterer · 28/06/2022 16:32

I predict you won't see them for a couple of days after letting them out, but then they will continue to hang around and shelter in the barn.

Do keep us updated.

Please
or
to access all these features

justasking111 · 28/06/2022 16:38

Ours ended up in the house, nine years later she's still with us. Can be skittish mostly outdoors nightly in the summer winter we have to throw out ๐Ÿ˜‚

Please
or
to access all these features

tattychicken · 28/06/2022 17:57

Yes just be patient. They might seem to have disappeared but keep the food in the same spot and I bet they'll come back under cover of darkness to help themselves. And leave little presents. They look lovely.

Please
or
to access all these features

macshoto · 28/06/2022 18:16

It takes time but they may well come around. We adopted a mom and four kittens from our local cat rescue. All were semi-feral when adopted.

Feeding them on a raised platform helped them grow in confidence with us - so we weren't so tall relative to them and (some of them) would then jump up and put up with petting in exchange for first dibs on the food.

Dreamies were another hit. Over the last couple of years the mum cat (who appears to also be very short sighted) has gone from being very skittish (and only willing to take Dreamies thrown to her) to being prepared to join me on our garden bench seat for petting, provided a supply of Dreamies is available at the same time.

That said, the most skittish female will still not be petted, though will come near and take treats thrown to her from 18 inches away.

Please
or
to access all these features

5zeds · 28/06/2022 18:22

Ring a bell whenever you put fresh food out. They soon learn.

Please
or
to access all these features
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.