Many people worry about feeding cats outside for fear of attracting raccoons. Although it is fairly common knowledge among people in the rescue community that if you place a feeding station on poles…raccoons can’t reach it (or skunks for that matter) because raccoons (and skunks) are climbers, not jumpers.
But to be honest, it is hard to envision what the ‘fix’ is supposed to look like. So, we are grateful to Nancy for sharing these links with us so that we may share them with you.
He was an unadoptable cat at Animal Rescue league and a very lucky guy, as it turns out. We brought him to a lovely barn in Haverhill. It appears that the white horse, one of his new roommates, is quite taken with him and the feeling is mutual. How do you like that?
If you are interested in learning more about how to acclimate barn cats, there are numerous videotapes featuring ‘news you can use’ in the blogtails section of this website and also in video features. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.Many thanks.
This time last year, we were just figuring out how to run a barn cat program. The following video is about saving the Gardner cats, our very first foray into finding barn homes for cats that were considered ‘unadoptable.’ It was an eye-opening experience.
Now, we have 51 placements under our belt (so to speak). If you scroll beyond this message in Blogtails, we have chronicled the doings of the cats and have occasionally posted comments from the barn owners (minus their names to preserve their privacy).
The message below came from a really sweet email that we received last Saturday. The cats being described are featured in a video on our site titled,Barn Cat Accomodations. They are three orange cats that open the video. Our friend Cindy at Charles River Alley Cats rescued them from a life of dumpster diving in Roslindale. The amazing aspect of reports like this one is that the cats were quite wild when they were captured. After 10 weeks of age or so, it is very unlikely that a wild cat will become tame, so the events this barn owner is experiencing tend to defy conventional expectations about wild cat behavior. We are seeing this occur more and more with the barn cat placements.
Just wanted to give you an update on the mom and 2 kittens here at my farm in West Newbury.
I released them to the loft last week and they are soooooo happy. It sounds like there are horses up there as they run around, jumping all over the hay bales, hiding and pouncing on each other, it’s hysterical to watch. I tried bringing the smallest kitty, Zena, into the house but the Mom was frantic and was crying out to her which broke my heart so I brought Zena back out. I will freak if anything happens to her though! Zena is very curious about everything and is such a love bug, she has to be on my back or across my shoulders purring when I’m in the barn. She also taught her mom and sister to use the wheelbarrow instead of the litterbox…so smart and makes things way too easy for me. I feed them in the loft and have a gate across the stairs so my dogs can’t get up there, although Zena chases the dogs out of the barn. I close the barn completely when I’m not around and also at night. So far so good.
May 22, 2009
We were posting on equinesite.net recently in an effort to find homes for eight cats whose time as running out at Animal Rescue League and were delighted to read these encomiums about our barn program in general and our cats in particular :
Posted on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - 11:06 am:
I will tell you that we got a cat from Sandy (shelter me inc.) last summer and he is the best cat we have ever had! He was supposed to be a barn cat but managed to make his way into our house almost full time now. I can’t say enough good things about my experience with Shelter Me Inc.! Posted on Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - 07:33 pm:
I have two wonderful kitties from Sandy. Besides being entertaining, the rat patrol has definitely thinned out the rodent population. And Sandy is so dedicated to these otherwise unadoptable felines. I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who could live with a few less mice/rats.
Driving up into the driveway I was so hoping for success - maybe a little too much. I was expecting all 3 traps to be full seeing as there had been no food out for days now except in the Have-A-Heart traps. Entering into the front door I stepped over the first empty trap. Going into the kitchen - another empty trap and my hopes started to sink - then like a present on Christmas morning I saw her in the cage in the living room - the light grey siamese mix we had seen the day before. She was hissing, screaming and saying get me the hell outta this cage. One out of three isn’t bad
Home we went and I placed that little kitten in the acclimation cage…she ran directly behind the feeder thinking she was hidden from view. The feeder covered only her front section so when you looked into the cage you saw a feeder with rump and tail sticking out of it
It is a good beginning and hopefully we will be adding on her sibling and mother soon.
“There are many intelligent species in the universe. They are all owned by cats.”
My husband and I had adopted 2 feral cats when living in Boulder, Colorado. Oscar was hit by a car when days old brought to the MSPCA, Minerva was a kitten in our apartment complex who jumped off our porch 2 stories up to get away from anyone who came through the sliders. You could hear him at night crying for his mother. I am stubborn (sometimes to the point of excess) but I was determined to make him ours. After weeks I succeeded. A true feral cat is a cat who has never had human contact. They are usually unfriendly toward people at first until trust is built. It can take a while for this trust to form but once it forms it is solid as a rock. Oscar took a good couple years before he decided we were okay - at least okay enough to jump on our lap. Minerva was more cautious. To this day - 13 years later - neither cat likes to be picked up but they both sleep with us at night. If another voice is heard in the house unfamiliar to them they will hide under our jacuzzi the rest of the day into night. They have crisscrossed west coast to east coast with us and although they aren’t typical cats they are my cats and I would never give them up. Because of Oscar and Minerva I am familiar with feral cats but not feral barn cats…enter Sandy Bodner.
My friend and his wife had recently adopted cats from Sandy through Shelter Me, Inc. for a mole problem. I had heard about Sandy for a while and she would now become a wealth of information and help. How to get them acclimated to barn life, feeding, concerns with other animals in barn area and of course the hardest part - getting them here were some of the many questions I looked to Sandy for answers. Now just let me state that Sandy had never even seen these cats or laid eyes on the conditions they were living in yet from email #1 was already willing to give 110% to trapping and rescuing these cats - that is devotion. From advice to offering traps, cages and where to go for neutering/spay clinics she was always an email or phone call away. My friend still had their acclimation cage in town so Sandy generously said to take it as long as I need it. She would get together some traps and even drive up here to help me set up the traps and cages (mind you I live out in the boonies to say the least). For Sandy it wasn’t about the time or effort - it was purely and unselfishly about saving these cats.
I talked to my friends wife again today in regards to the cats. I told her Sandy would help with the traps and cages and we set a time I would collect the acclimation cages. It turns out that a neighbor to the abandoned house had called that morning to complain about the cats and the MSPCA showed up to investigate. The MSPCA showed up when my friend was feeding them and told MSPCA they were going to be adopted for barn cats. The investigation was ended. Here enters one of the most sincere people I have ever met - Mary Letourneau. Mary is the dog officer for not only Ashby but also Townsend. She is one of those people who will not only give you the shirt off her back but also make you a cup of coffee and hot meal. I called her in the hopes of her perhaps having some extra traps, her response was “What time is good to meet you at the house and I will set them up.”
Sometimes things just fall into place so naturally - it is nice but usually it is a fleeting moment. These past 3 days have been puzzle pieces that fit together and when the puzzle is finished I will have saved some lives and made some new barn companions. I miss Nancy and her triplets but these cats take the sting away a bit - I am doing good and they are doing me good…how can that be wrong? It cannot.
Walking into this house - toys and clothes strewn everywhere I could only imagine what really went on - or maybe I really didn’t want to. Has stated before - bad things happen to good animals but here is where we can do something about it. With Mary we entered the house and set up the traps. Walking into the former family room we saw a white siamese cross kitten hissing at us. Quickly we closed the door set a trap with food and hoped for the best. The rest of the house was searched room by room for any cats and doors closed where we were sure no cats were hiding. Leaving the home I hoped for the best and would check the traps in the morning.
February 9th, 2009
“Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.”
Joseph Wood Krutch
I believe in fate. I believe in it so strongly it is tattooed on my arm and this morning it has come into my life smiling. About a month ago a friend started telling me about these cats that had been abandoned in a house here in town. He is one of those people who try to be so hardy on the outside but inside he has a heart of gold. He talked about how he had been feeding them everyday, leaving the porch door ajar so they had some shelter in the ice storms and 2 foot snow and he talked about the conditions they had been living in. He was so devoted to these feral cats he would feed them even when he himself had no power or water yet found time to make sure they had water and food.
These cats belonged to a family torn apart in some hauntingly horrible ways. The remaining animals were adopted by a neighbor and only the cats were left. The former owner did not believe in spaying or neutering and routinely there would be free kitten signs in front of the house. The bank was taking over the house soon and the days for these cats were numbered. Bad things happen to good animals.
For the first time in 7 years we had rats in the barn this winter. Talking to some other barn owners it seems to have been universal this winter due to the packed down snow that happened so early around here. This coupled with ice storms and more snow makes it hard for them to borrow so barns become favorite targets. I would never dream of using a sticky trap - nothing but cruelty , a slow agonizing death (in my opinion). Poison wasn’t the answer, the thought of a poisoned rat in my hay loft rotting away in a hay bale wouldn’t do. We had some Have-a heart traps on the ready but these rats had an arsenal of grain hidden away, why bother with a few grain pieces when you have a seasons supply in your nest? I am sure you now see where this story is going
After Nancy and the triplets death I was in a cloud - I still had so many questions in my head. What if I had done this, what if the vet had tried this, yet there were no answers to be found. It was what it was. After all the pleading with Nancy to hold on, seeing the lamb began to walk all I had was a spot of earth fresh from the graveside showing like a sore in the snow.. This morning my friend called to say he was going out of town and if I would please consider these cats for adoption and enlist them as barn cats. Of course looking back know I know he asked me because he knows me better than I know myself - he of course knew I would say yes. What he didn’t know is he couldn’t have picked a better time. I had just lost 4 lives - now I had the chance to save lives (and of course control my rat problem the way Mother Nature intended.) He and his wife had adopted barn cats from Sandy at Shelter Me Inc., I was about to meet 3 not only inspiring but devoted people - Sandy Bodner from Shelter Me, Inc. along with our town dog officer and her right hand man (husband) Mary and Keith Letourneau. With my friend out of town I called his wife to say yes.
My head is full of needles, shots, long nights and death. I have lost my Targee sheep and her triplets. After 2 weeks of prodding, poking, turning and talking to Nancy she is gone. Ketosis and preeclampsia developed in the last month of pregnancy - Bo-Se and Calcium Gluconate injections, glucose injections, vitamins, drenches, banamine injections and dexamethasone to induce labor yet out of all the technology and medicines available nothing worked. Bad things happen to good animals. She is buried in our pasture with her only surviving 3 day old lamb at her side. Just like Nancy 4 degrees (the temperature when he was born) fought until he could fight no longer. With no colostrum from mum his chances were slim but the hard delivery made things much grimmer for this little life - he spent much of it in my girls, husbands and friends laps being snuggled, petted and kissed until he passed away silently in his sleep.
Being a farmer I know to expect these things but it never makes them easier. The day I stop feeling the loss of an animal is the day I stop being a farmer.
“If we treated everyone we meet with the same affection we bestow upon our favorite cat, they, too would purr.” Martin Delany
There are good individuals in this world - there are also bad. One cannot be defined without the other. As we have all experienced in our lives, bad things happen to good people - there is no rhyme or reason and blame is sometimes not concise or clear. This too may be said of animals. My role in this is small but in my own way I hope to make it larger than life - if I can instill in one person the sense of respect, importance and yes, a tear shed that makes one want to adopt a barn cat than I have succeeded beyond my hopes and all these words are worth their weight in gold.