Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BARN CATS. GIVING MICE THE BOOT... FOR GOOD!

Gotta love em'. Gotta have em'.

Barn cats are essential to fighting mice on the homestead. With so much grain and other forms of feed around, a farm is a smorgasbord  for a mouse colony. If you've seen one, even just their droppings, then chances are you have hundreds! The grossest part? If you can slide a pen under your door, the mice are welcoming their friends right in.

For us this is a HUGE problem... We have bags of barley feed for fodder production, then there's the horses grain, the pig feed, hen scratch, rabbit pellets, dog food, and for a short time longer chick starter crumble. All of these food sources are a target for a growing colony, and I refuse to support their growth. Plus I have a two year old, for whom nothing is sacred, so you may find a piece of fruit or crackers under all my furniture.

We've tried traps, we've tried poison, we have even tried anally cleaning the house and out buildings to avoid finding hints of their presence.... That's right poo..... Sorry but it is the sad truth, there't lots of poop on the homestead. Personally I prefer the kind that isn't toxic or deadly to my family, wouldn't you? Mice carry Hantavirus in their feces. The dust and debris released can then be inhaled into your lungs... Not so good as HRS (hantavirus respiratory syndrome) has something like a 40% fatality rate (don't quote me on that, I think what I read was like 38% but whatever.. you get the point!).

My end game has no traps or nasty poisons anywhere on the property.... I can't possibly have piece of mind knowing there's lethal poison on my property with so many animals and children about.

Enter Poco and Loco, my two newest homestead additions. And boy are they shaping up to be great mousers!

The first thing to keep in mind with raising any barn cats is just that, they are BARN cats. Allowing them to make a cozy home in your home will do nothing to help your mouse issues. They must be motivated to kill the mice. This is the hardest part... do not let them inside. Their meowing may look cute an innocent but if they discover the cozy warmth of your couch, you'll end up with a lazy house cat, and that's not what we want.

Since our kittens were only 5 weeks old when I brought them home creating a safe warm environment for them was a must. Since I didn't have a proper barn stall or set up to keep them safe outside, I settled for our uninhabited guest bathroom. The kittens are given about an hour of daily attention from myself and my little farm girl to socialize and bond. There's nothing worse than trying to get a ferrel cat to the vet..... trust me, socialize your kitties!! We want them to bond and love us, but ultimately I want them to love the outdoors and independence more.

They will be 8 weeks tomorrow and their transition out the garage/laundry room will begin this week. This will serve as their nursery until they are old enough to begin venturing outside and exploring their new surroundings. We will always provide them food as mice will not be their sole diet, especially in cold winter months.
What I love most about cats is their simplicity. There's not need to "train" your cat to mouse. Although a nice game of string or feather will always spark their innate killing nature. They are simply born with that instinct, provide shelter with water and they are good to go. Do make sure your other animals are cat friendly in order to avoid a dog or other animal running the cats off your property.

A few short months after weaning the kittens will begin understanding their territory and all that comes with it, mice included. Personally, I hope my cats will target the finch population... pesky little food skimmers!

Off to get some kitty loving'!


Q