Barn Cats in Coyote Heavy Area?

The completely brutal midwest winter drove a tom of mice into my barn this year- normally I have one of two residents in bad temps who move out in spring but it’s just not happening. Considering getting a pair of barn cats but we have a huge coyote population where I live- we see and hear them constantly. Does this mean the cats would likely be coyote prey more than mouse predator?

Also any tips on acclimating barn cats would be much appreciated. We do have a heated tack room we could cut a cat door into but I don’t have mice in there now snd I don’t want them in there in the future!

Thanks!

Well, it depends a little on how far your cats roam. But, yes chances are that the cats will catch some mice and then the coyotes will catch the cats.
I wish someone bred barn snakes…

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Agree on both counts. We lived in a high coyote area and barn cats would move in and eventually disappear.

We did have a barn snake for many years and he did a better job of keeping the mice down then the cats ever did.

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Wow you two are a lot tougher than I am, I think a barn snake would drive me out of the barn faster than the mice

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If a cat is raised “feral”, by it’s feral mother, in a barn, it has a better chance to avoid predation by coyotes. Because their mothers teach them about coyotes, and predation, and “danger”, that human raised cats who are weaned and “rehomed” early, just never get that sort of training.

The coyote threat is always there for barn cats, if you have coyotes in your area. It’s a fact of life, and death. But we’ve had a feral barn cat in our barn for 8 years now. She just showed up one day, a mottled long haired streak through the barn when she saw us, but she stayed. She is very feral, and very cautious. She was captured, and spayed, and turned loose again. We feed and water her, and she has lots of places to sleep in the hay. We have pretty much failed to get her tame, we have patted her on occasion when this was offered in the company of our “friendly” barn cat (who is now a house cat- his decision), and she would have been a very nice cat, if she was not feral, she would LIKE to be a friendly cat, but she just can’t bring herself to that level of trust. But she has survived the coyotes, because she is so cautious. One day, when she gets old, or sick, and loses her caution, she will likely be caught and turned into coyote poop. Until then, she is our barn kitty, and does an adequate job on mouse control. Coyotes have families to feed too. We don’t like it when they take a pet, but the coyote family celebrates, and eats well that day. And it’s a quick death.

Your local SPCA or “cat rescue” will have feral cats, that have been captured, and turned in as young adults. They often do not make good pets as they are not tame and loving, and homes looking for pets do not want them. Thus, they are likely to be euthanized, if this is done in your area. If you are looking for a feral cat, they are often free, with spaying or neutering done. They may or may not choose to stay with you, and they may or may not become tame enough to be a barn pet for you. But they will likely do mouse control for you if they do choose to stay, and are more likely to avoid being eaten by coyotes, because they are smarter than human raised kittens.

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I agree that it is more about the individual cats and whether or not they roam than the coyotes. If cats can get in/out of the barn at night and coyotes can’t, they are pretty safe. But if they are locked out of the barn at night - they may be out hunting elsewhere or looking for shelter.

Also - if they are not spayed/neutered, they will definitely roam, so they are easier prey.

I will say - the only unneutered, feral tom cat I ever knew would have been hard to kill by a coyote; I think it would have been a pretty fair fight 1:1…with the advantage going to the cat. He was big, immensely strong and pretty darn terrifying. I don’t think cats are a primary source of food for coyotes, who may pack up from time to time but tend to hunt individually.

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We likewise live in a coyote dense area. In our case, prolonged drouth has driven them closer to the edges of our little town. We hear them almost nightly, sometimes just on the other side of our front yard gate, 30 feet from the door.

We have two indoor-outdoor house cats and one barn cat. She does a phenomenal job. All of them have survived years despite the danger, and all stick pretty close to their respective home bases. The barn cat has a cat door into the barn itself - this may be of help when the chase is on. All of our cats are spayed/neutered.

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We lock our barn cat in the tack room at night, because of the coyotes and other assorted predators. Cats that are outside at night here don’t live very long. He does a fine job with the barn rodents during the day.

If you can find a cat that has experience living outside in your area, that’s stacking the deck that it’ll be able to stay alive at your place. Around here, there are plenty of “feral” (not really–escaped or abandoned domestic) cats that show up around houses and are considered a nuisance. Offering to trap and relocate can be a fabulous way to snag a good barn cat.

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We finally learned not to feed barn cats to our wildlife.

Everyone around here keeps getting cats for their barns.
Practically everyone can tell you they only make it here at most two-three years.
In much of farm country, the attrition of small animals running loose, barn cats, dogs, chickens etc. is real.

We have coyotes but also bobcats and those are very territorial.

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Thank you so much for all of the replies. Lots of food for thought…one other question I should have asked, I saw somewhere that the cats tend to stick around more if they have a buddy. Is it better to get two? I do think we’d do a cat door/try to train them to come in at night.

Getting a cat in at night isn’t hard. Feed them when you put the barn to bed. Pick food up in the morning.

Cats always show up for dinner, and you’re not drawing and feeding other vermin if the only time it’s out is overnight behind a closed door.

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Adult cats usually are smart enough to avoid the coyotes. Kittens disappear from our barn. I finally said no more kittens. Also had a puppy that I am pretty sure coyotes got.

We have a ton of coyotes in our area. Very rural Missouri.

Two spayed female barn cats. One hardly roams at all and is pretty skittish. The other is a lot more bold and comes and goes as she pleases, but over time has strayed less and less. So far, so good on them being alive still. They have access to the barn, and I don’t think a coyote could squeeze into the little door spot we have for them to get in and out.

We also have a feral cat population that has a regular supply of kittens that are likely easier prey. And a lot of calves certain times of the year. And our barn is right near our house, so I think they’d have to be pretty desperate to get that close (at least in our area where there isn’t a lack of wild space for them.)

FWIW, lived in a less rural area growing up and had three barn cats over time. Never had any issues and they all died of old age (and were very friendly ones we got as kittens).

And I think two is better than one, but the biggest factor is spay/neutering them to make them less likely to roam.

I have several outdoor cats (not on purpose. they just show up.) There are lots of coyotes here, but they get more chickens than cats. I think I have lost two cats to coyotes, one female who got scared away from the house during some construction, and one male who was… not so swift in general, and who I would find sleeping in random unprotected places. Most of them are smart enough to stay in the garage and on the porch. I also walk the big dog on the perimeter of the cleared area around the house in the hopes that her smell will warn the coyotes away.

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We have had good luck by keeping our barn kitties in at night. They have a big cat house with a caged outside area attached with a solid wire mesh roof too- completely coyote and other varmint (raccoons, opossums, bobcats, dogs etc) proof.

All our boarders are told (sometimes repeatedly!) not to EVER feed the barn cats. Then they are happy to come into their house at night and eat, and be safe all night long.

Our current barn kitty is lovely but not a great hunter- we should probably find her a couple of partners to help with the rodent patrol.

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here at least daytime is as bad as night as the coyotes are often in full view as they size up their next meal … one afternoon our grand daughters were hand feeding their goats on leads in the pasture next door were surprised to see a big coyote about seventy feet away thinking about a goat meal

So, we do not have barn cats.

We also have lots of coyotes in the area and barn cats don’t tend to last more than a couple years. We occasionally see the coyotes roaming early morning or early afternoon. I also have garter snakes that live under the barn and they must keep the mice away because I see evidence of a mouse about once a year, but that’s it. We don’t often see the snakes but I have seen them slither past the horses and the horses don’t mind. We also have a fox that hangs out in the area. I wonder if you can get garter snakes somewhere and set up a spot for them? That has been a very low maintenance mouse control system for me.

i haven’t seen the “how to acclimate” question answered yet. Usually a feral/stray finds us, and if they stick around we trap & neuter. So they acclimate themselves by choice. But when our barn cat population is low enough, I’ll adopt a cat from our local shelter’s “barn cat program”-- cats that are not otherwise adoptable for various reasons and seem hardy/scrappy enough to be an outdoor kitty. For those, I keep them in their own, enclosed space in one of our outbulidings for at least a week-- no roaming alllowed. This way they settle in, learn that this is ‘home’ and that we’re the ‘food dispensers’. And keeps the other cats from chasing it out of their territory. After a week or so, I’ll let one of our nice/not territorial barn cats in there with them. After they’re well settled, I let them out and hope for the best. Might go more quickly, just depends on the cat. With this method, only one cat has run off, all the rest integrated with the rest of the cats and stick around long term.

Definitely I’d get two cats as your “starter pack” :laughing: rather than just one. Kittens are far more likely to stay put and adopt your farm as home. And, well, they’re adorable, and given that we’re about to enter “kitten season,” there will be a ton of them needing homes. If you get kittens, I’d keep them confined to their safe space much longer, like a month, only letting them out to play when you’re out and about.

We’ve lost a few barnies to predators (presumed–you never know), but in general they have a very good life with us and contentedly laze around on sunny haybales when they’re not hunting critters. My feeling is that if they get 5+ years of a contended, well-fed life, even if they are taken by a predator, that’s still a pretty good outcome vs being a starving stray that’s always afraid.

I was at a barn for years where we always had at least 2 barn cats. They usually were around for several years. There are coyotes in the area. When we realize we hadn’t seen one for days we figure the coyotes probably got it. The current occupants are 8 or 10 years old. They have a secret entrance on the back side of the indoor maybe for emergencies?

The BO always gets kittens and they live in the house until they are big enough to move to the barn. Once they have moved they don’t go back to the house. She always has them fixed. The 3 there now are the most affectionate cats I’ve seen in 45 years as a cat owner. They will snuggle in your lap while you watch the kids taking a lesson.

Sometimes I don’t have to worry when my horse is nibbling on the hayfield. That’s Bob the Cat on sentry duty with Speckles.

Specks and Bob post

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I’ve had a few vets tell me it takes a month for cats to reset their “gps” to home. We cage or otherwise lock up new intros for at least that long, while feeding on a schedule and making friends.

And while kittens ARE adorable, I’d never consider kittens for barn duty. The risk they’ll become dinner because they don’t know enough to keep themselves safe is huge. I prefer to stack the deck in my favor with adult cats that have already shown they can survive outside.

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