Barn Cats in Coyote Heavy Area?

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.


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


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.


Please don’t get kittens. You would just be feeding them to the coyotes.

My neighbor is terrified her mini horse will become coyote food. They take on baby deer, so why not a mini horse?

Adult cats can do okay provided they have escape routes. Many shelters have barn cats available - that are semi-feral and not friendly enough to make a house cat.

I think a snake would probably work really well. I looked after my friend’s chickens and she must have had a dozen of the fattest snakes you have ever seen.

My kittens came in super dog friendly and would walk right up to a coyote. Kittens have no sense of danger.

Does she know a baby deer is about the size of a cat? They’re TEENY!

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Thanks all! One of my barn friends had the name of a woman who rescues feral cats to rehome as barn cats (fixed, microchipped) and she’ll help us with the how of the crate acclimation too. Well get adults both to give cats a home that are harder to place and because hopefully they’ll have the know how to avoid predators.

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Help your kitties survive by making sure they have lots of safe places in and around your barn. Sheds that are on skids give cats a place to dive under for cover, or make raised cat houses that the cats can jump up into to hide. Make sure they are neutered/spayed as they will be more likely to stay close. make sure they are well fed as a well fed cat is more likely to stay close, and they WILL still hunt for food/sport. I agree that kittens would be a bad idea.

Simkie, you’re right about cats resetting their guidance system. They are attached to the space and not the people. My first cat was a leash-trained Siamese. I moved to a new apartment a few blocks from the old one. The cat found the path along the bank of a mill pond and headed straight for the old location.

My sister’s cat was in a carrier before the good airline carriers were available. They were on the way to Cape Cod with family and friends. They clipped the back bumper of a bus. The car rolled onto one side and landed on the side of the road. All were uninjured but the carrier broke open and the cat disappeared. We searched the next day, but no clues. Her husband went down there a few days later and left posters at the closest homes which weren’t that close. A week later they got a call. Cat was under a porch and the family was feeding her. She looked pretty scruffy but was in good shape and lead a long and happy life.

I agree that the presumption of cats being lost to predators is just that – I have had a few cats and the only one I ever “lost” was hit by a car. I would never have seen her but a neighbor on my road who walks every day did see the cat in a low drainage ditch and called me, and I could confirm it was the barn cat.

Of course coyotes could be the cause, but I would not discount cars as being a major cause of missing cats as well.

The same remedies apply though - the more you can keep them from wandering, the safer they will be.

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We live in an area with a large and active coyote population. Once they discovered our 17acres which is completely perimeter fenced, but not impermeable, they decimated our barn cat population. Our only solution was livestock guardian dogs and since then we’ve always kept two or three LGDs on the property. They are great about dividing the farm into zones which they defend and combine efforts when they feel like the threat level merits it.

Otherwise, it’s securing the cats in the barn each night, which is fine if the cat or cats is/are cooperative, but an exercise in frustration if not. Some cats are more savy than others to the predator threat. Most are not and are easily taken. Even with the Great Pyrenees defending our property, if the kitties wander outside the fence once too often, it seems they inevitably get taken. If they stay put on the property, they seem to do fine.

The kitties do an awesome job keeping rodents away. Wish they did as good a job with possums. The dogs keep raccoons away, but the possums seem so wilfully ignorant about the dog threat, the dogs seem to almost view them as funny looking cats and I have to regularly trap them and cart them off away from the cat kibble for the barn cats.

Best of luck!

I also live in a heavy coyote population area and have had the same cat for over 10 years now. Females tend to be a better choice as they do not roam as much as males. I had a couple of male cats (all fixed) and they have a 1km or so radius. The female we have never goes far from the barn. There is a cat door that she can go in and out of and I always feed her 2 x a day, so shes always in and out of the barn. I also have a cat bed for her in the window that shes loves to nap in.

The males have both disappeared and I’m pretty sure were snatched from a coyote at some point.

The males were quite tame and very friendly while the female is very skittish and does not mind humans around, but is not a fan of being pet. It has made her quite aware of her surroundings and I’m sure thats why we’ve had her so long - plus shes always around the barn and close to safety if she needs it…

Try to get females if you can. I bet they will be a little more savvy and stick around for longer.

I 100% say Black snake. Harmless and hungry! We carry a bucket in the back of the truck pick them up off the road before an idiot purposely runs them over.


Our black snakes have been amazing. I’m keeping an eye out for one near our creek to relocate to our new barn.