Love my barn cats! They control the mice and voles here on the farm but once or twice a year they have a nasty encounter with a skunk or a porcupine. I can deal with that but it is the only time I wish they weren’t so ‘tough’.
We have very good barn cats and I love them. Although they are fed and watered in the barn, they sleep everywhere – machine sheds, garage, porch, old wooden granaries, under the trucks, in the hay loft, and under certain trees.
The most fascinating thing to watch them do is when they are teaching the kittens to hunt. The mother will carefully catch a rodent, to keep it alive, so the little ones can practice their skills. Some will say this is cruel but the kittens need to learn this essential survival skill.
My barn cats can go up and down ladders and this seems another skill that is passed on. The cats seem to know the different between small bird species. The swallows, owls and merlins are ignored because the cats know that they are good fliers – but when a warbler or chickadee flies into a building, they are on it like a stink on a skunk.
And speaking of skunks, I think they must believe that they are very smelly cats. Once or twice a year I will find a cat that has tangled with a skunk and yes, tomato juice works. Trying to give a barn cat a tomato scrub is also an event.
When we have a litter of kittens, we usually keep the females – the males are more troublesome and will occasionally kill the little ones. Rarely do we find one that has been hit on the road for they seem to know this danger and treat the road as a boundary.
Our closest neighbors are 3 miles to the south so we are fairly isolated from other cats coming to visit but we still manage to a have a few litters a year. But the hawks, foxes, coyotes do make meals of the cats.
This almost always occurs in the open for barn cats are excellent tree climbers. A snowy winter can also thin out the group but the cats cannot travel across the snow as quick as their predators.
Our cats are most valuable for rodent control – mice will chew the wiring out of any vehicle or machine. And although they cannot take down a porcupine or raccoon – two other building eating menaces – they make great mothers, enjoy our company and live very natural life.