Who would have thought that barn cats could be a contentious issue. They are. I’ve been in a lot of barns and barn cats are necessary. They help to keep your barn pest free. Barns have rats, mice, snakes, birds. Barn cats help to reduce that. Barn cats are truly working animals. They have jobs, important jobs. In exchange for their work you provide them with proper medical care, a place to live and an occasional scratch. In the winter months you give them some supplemental food and maybe a heated water bowl depending on your climate. Barn cats shouldn’t be completely feral as you should be able to pick them up or at least get them in a carrier to get them to the vet once a year. Often they are pretty feral animals though which can make medical care a challenge. Unless of course you are in one of the barns I’ve been in, including the one I’m currently in. In that case what you have is big fat, overfed, over pampered, mollycoddled, house cats that just happen to live in a barn.
In my last barn we had four cats all ladies and I loved each and every one of them. Two cats lived in each barn. Only two out of the four cats actually hunted. The two that hunted, were really good hunters! I’d often watch them stalk a bird or a mouse until they got their prey. I always told them what good kitties they were when they caught a mouse a rat or a bird. I’d see one cat in particular always in the field next door looking for critters to catch. It was more sport with the two that did hunt because I never saw an empty food bowl. Never. They were given two kinds of food, treats and lots of pets and snuggles. The two that didn’t hunt were just house cats. Always asking to be lap cats, crying for treats and food. They were sweet kitties but they were hardly working animals. They were pets. In other words they hit the lottery. They were lotto kitties.
When I moved into self care I knew there were two cats, one for each barn. Sasha a long haired calico female who is very social and Dash a gray male who was more reserved. Because its self care the veterinary care of the cats is voluntary and before i got there i hear there was a big squabble among the boarders of each barn about it. I’m glad i wasn’t there for that. Though Sasha is really the other barns cat i’ve seen her in my stalls stalking a mouse! Good girl! I leave my stall doors open during the day just enough for a cat to get in for just this purpose. Girl cats tend to be better hunters which is why you almost always see female cats when you’re at a barn. I’ve also seen Sasha in the manure pile looking for creatures and ive seen her in the back of my SUV when shes jumped in while i was unloading my car. Like i said social.
Dash is more reserved, i haven’t seen him stalk anything yet. Not in the barn or out of the barn. I have seen him begging for food. In fact i’ve seen him begging for food a lot. He talks as male cats do but Dash’s talking is more demanding. Yanno for food. I was up in the hay loft and that is seems is where the cat food is and the litter box. Really a litter box for barn cats?!? That too me is a bit extreme, i didn’t sign on for cleaning a little box for a barn cat. I muck enough stalls. up in the loft, Dash has has made himself comfortable on MY hay. I guess my hay being by the one closed window in the loft decided I had the best spot. I also see two giant bowls full of cat food, a cat igloo and small pies of lose hay that was gathered into piles and i what i can only assume are many random cat beds. Really?… what… the …fuck…. Theres a section of the huge hay loft that we use for general barn storage and that section smells like cat piss. I’ve also seen evidence of cat spray. Another good reason to have female barn cats. So basically its like a little kitty slice of heaven up there. Beds, never empty bowls of food, littler box and a free place to spray your cat piss. Good times.
Then I see dash begging for food. I tell him “i’m not feeding you” he continues to cry at me all afternoon and ignore him. He’s not real friendly so he wont really let you touch him but man oh man will he whine like a bitch for food. When his overflowing food bowls are up there with an abundance of cat food in them. Yeah, hes also a lotto kitty. In contrast I have yet to see Sasha up in the hay loft (where i really need her to be hunting) I’m guessing the loft is Dash’s realm or as i have renamed him “Freeloader” I’m not giving him anything until i see him at least try to do his job. No treats, no extra food, no scratches or pets. I cant really blame him too much as its being made easy for him not to work. Real easy. Barn cats need to earn their keep, if i wanted a house cat i was responsible for id get one and it would be sitting on my lap when i write blog posts. I certainly am not interested in having a house cat at the barn I’m responsible for. Unfortunately its not just me and i cant make an arbitrary decision about how to handle the barn cat issue. I can however decline to participate in the whole barn cat thing. I have a feeling i would be met with much resistance if i tried to introduce a new barn cat policy. As in lets let the cats do their jobs and stop acting as if they were spoiled house pets. Instead i will quietly not be a part of it. When it comes time to pay for vet care of buy food i wont be laying down my cash. Well maybe a little for Sasha but Freeloader… no way.