Raising Barn Cats as House Pets
Barn Cats Can be Wild (Feral)
We lost our precious kitty (Jack) on our anniversary 2 years ago. We live on a street that's very busy at times and as much as we tried to keep him away from the road, well, you know the rest.
A friend has a few barn cats on her property and tries to trap them and adopt them out. She managed to trap 2 kittens from the same litter for us even though they were already 2 months old. She brought them over in the cage they had been trapped in and we let them loose in our laundry room. We had food, water and a litter box set up in there and fortunately all 3 were used when no one was watching. The kitties decided that the safest place to hide was behind the washing machine and dryer. We barely saw them for more than a month!
Trials and Tribulations of Raising Barn Cats
Since we could not get close enough to the kitties to see if they were male or female, we gave them names that could be for a male or female. Through a search on the internet I came up with Frankie and Johnnie.
We had no idea how long it would take to convince the cats that we were not the enemy. We found out that the best tool for luring cats out of anywhere is food, preferably tuna. I would put a little tuna on a plate and watch from a distance, waiting patiently for them to come out.. We had no idea just how wild and untouched these kitties were.
Johnnie, the gray kitty, was the first to come out for the tuna. Then I used a string with a toy on the end to try to lure her out farther. She let us touch her back after a month or so. We were not able to touch Frankie until after they both went to the vet to be spayed. We honestly weren't sure if they were male or female until they went to the vet.
Getting them to the vet to be spayed/neutered was another matter. Since they like tuna I decided to lure them into 2 cat carriers and placed some tuna in each one. I did this first thing in the morning (when they are pretty hungry). Unfortunately, they both decided to go into just one of the carriers. I was standing nearby and had no choice but to close the carrier door. Poor things went crazy and I feared they would get hurt. They settled down pretty fast though.The vet treated them like feral cats because they acted like wild cats! When we picked them up we found out that the kittens were both female.
Why Keep Barn Cats Inside?
The main reason these cats stay inside is because of the busy street we live on. After losing Jack it would be devastating to lose another cat in the road. Also, we really wanted them to have a good life. I know that many people would disagree with us and say that barn cats or feral cats should be left in their environment. I can assure you that these cats would have had a very rough life with injuries and litters of unwanted kittens.
If we ever move to a quiet neighborhood with safer streets, then of course they will become indoor/ outdoor cats. They have a good life indoors with plenty of love and affection, toys, scratching posts and viewing windows to watch birds and bugs.
Spay or Neuter?
We Didn't Know Which
Getting them to the vet to be spayed/neutered was another matter. Since they really like tuna I decided to lure them into 2 cat carriers and placed some tuna in each one. I did this first thing in the morning (when they are pretty hungry). Unfortunately, they both decided to go into just one of the carriers. I was standing nearby and had no choice but to close the carrier door. Poor things went crazy and I feared they would get hurt. They settled down pretty fast, much to my relief. The vet treated them like feral cats because they were still acting like wild, feral cats! When we picked them up we found out that the kittens were both female.
Who Runs This Place?
I have to admit that we love cats and have always had 1 or 2 from the same litter. Cats always seem to find their way to us through friends or by ending up on our door step. Our cats are usually .indoor/outdoor so having indoor cats is new.
As these cats have grown to trust us in the last 18 months they have developed distinct personalities. Johnnie the gray cat is the sociable one and is always trying to get our attention. She likes to steal things and run away and hide them. She sits on the bathroom sink and watches my husband shave, When he's not looking she'll grab things like the cap of the shaving cream or plastic top of a throw away razor.
Frankie the black cat is more reserved and likes to sleep. When scared she'll hide in dark places like under the bed or in closets. When she was about 6 months old she liked to sleep on top of a storage cabinet that was in a corner.One day we kept hearing a muted meow We finally found her wedged between the wall and the cabinet. She must have tried to jump down (or fell down) in the dark space. We had to pull the cabinet out and fortunately she was fine.
Mice that squeak are a big favorite. This toy has a soft squeak, but sounds very realistic.
These mice are a low tech toy, but the catnip makes my kitties bat them around feverishly.