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Bringing an elderly barn cat inside

Looking for advice and maybe enablement.

There is an elderly cat at my boarding barn (18+ years old), who I am very tempted to bring home.

She was allegedly born at the barn, and was left when the previous owners sold the farm to my barn owner (with the promises of taking her to the vet, etc.). She’s very friendly, and hangs out with me when I’m at the barn late.

She’s quite thin, but has been for the 2 years I’ve been at this barn. However, she is long haired and has terrible mats on her back. The barn owner tries to stay on top of things, but inevitably she ends up in a pretty sorry state. She is at least vaccinated.

I thought last winter was going to be hard for her, and my barn owner asked if my partner and I were interested in taking her. At the time, it wasn’t an option given our living situation, though we could theoretically do it now. She’s a lone cat at the barn, though she tolerates the new kittens who were hired last year.

The concern we have is that she’s a cat that’s lived her whole life at a barn - the home we’d offer her is a high-rise condo. There wouldn’t be any possibility of her continuing outdoor life with us, which might help keep her contained, but could also be very frustrating. I assume the litter box wouldn’t be an issue, though I guess I don’t know that for sure.

Has anyone done this? Do the cats adjust? Is it fair to ask them to switch everything about how they lived?

Would love to hear anyone’s experience with this.


I tried once, a long time ago, to bring a barn cat into the house. Not. a. chance. He was claustrophobic! I tried for about a week, he never did use the litter box, spent most of his time hiding. The longer he was in the house the worse he got.

Good luck!

Saltymeow Get a large dog crate, keep her contained in the crate with litter box for “a while” to get used to the changes. Perhaps a Vet visit first to get mats removed, CLAWS CLIPPED, flea removal, wormed and a look at her teeth and ears. The time of containment can vary, but at least 2 weeks, with human attention during removals. Grooming, sitting with her on your lap being petted. Ltiter box cleaned often, maybe a plastic milk crate on it’s side, with towels on bottom and top for her to lay on. A coir (brown fiber door mat) mat seems real popular here for clawing, scratching on. Manilla rope wound scratching (2x4 works) device is also popular. Saves my furniture.

We have brought a couple barn cats inside after they got older, they transitioned very well! They were 8-10 years old, but very friendly in the barn. I would not worry abouts her “missing” her old life. The improvement in quality will be amazing! You may want to remove any breakable items so she does not knock them off learning her new territory once released. I would continue to lock her up if company visits to prevent escapes or overwhelming her with new folks, again at night or if no one is home. Better to monitor her behavior and activities when she is loose. She has no idea of right or wrong, never having lived in a house, so she is bound to make mistakes like walking on counters, stealing/trying to share food, not using the litter box or cruising upper shelving. Gentle corrections should get her retrained to your ideas of good manners. Do not put yourself in her place, thinking she misses the barn. They adapt to present circumstances with time. Life is safer in the house! Winter is coming. Think how bad you would feel if you found her frozen! I lock my barn cat in the tack room at night to keep her safe, warm, fed and watered. She loves coming out each morning and going in at night to be fed. It is her routine. She can’t move into the house until we lose one of the other two old barn, now house, cats. No room for 3 cats in the house!!

An 18yr old cat is old by anyone’s standards! Being an aged barn cat so old is almost unheard of! Giving her an indoor home is extremely kind of you!! I hope Cat rewards you folks with good manners and affection!! Dry kitten chow has lots of calories, easier to chew with old/bad teeth for older cats. House cats do not get wet, meat or fish food, makes the litter box reek!


Cats are very adaptable and tolerant things most of the time.

No way to guess if this old lady will love being an indoor cat or not until you try.

I think step one is to take her to the vet and discuss her health.

Once you bring her home she will need enrichment. The ability to climb and claw and such.

If you can’t bring her home, is there any option to make her life at the barn easier? Heated housing, wet cat food, etc?


Bless you for helping her ~ I’ve done this so many times ~ “stolen” barn cats :rofl: ~ ALL have been more than grateful and adjusted beautifully to ‘home life’ ~ :four_leaf_clover:


I did this. “Whitey”, who weighed about 8 lbs and who was having trouble with barn life in winter. I did bring her to a vet and have her checked out. Nothing wrong except old age–I think she was close to 20.

She did fine.


An idea for transport is using a net type laundry bag tied shut. Cat can see where they are going, yet not be able to run away if frightened. Put cat-in-bag inside an open top box with a towel on the bottom if you think she might poop or pee from fright during travel. This will protect the car upholstery. I use this method to transport my cats to the Vet, which always makes the Vet laugh. “Bag of cat” she says! They seem calmer, looking out, not feeling trapped like in a crate.


My barn cats have always been brought into the house full time when they are elderly. They adapt quite well. The only problem is they will try and sneak out between your legs for several weeks every time you open the door. You’d be doing this kitty a HUGE favor by bringing her home. Bless your heart!


I’ve done it with younger cats and I could hardly pry them out of the house afterwards.


I had an older outdoor cat (I think she was in the neighborhood of 20 - 22) simply move in one day. It was early November, starting to get colder, and even though she was in good weight and happy, she just followed me in one day and that was that. She taught herself to use the litterbox, loved laying in the sun beams on the floor, got along with all the other cats (most of whom she’d never met before) and slept in a large crate at night. She had been an outdoor cat literally her entire life, but there was never an issue.

She was quite happy indoors for another four or five months, until one night she died peacefully in her sleep. I think she just felt she had earned her retirement.

So to answer your question, in my experience, barn cats can certainly adjust to indoor life (though not all can/do). All you can do is try and see. If she doesn’t, is there a way to make her a large crate in the barn with a heated bed, maybe? My barn cats have large dog crates that I line with reflective heat blankets and foam board insulation in the winter, with old horse blankets over the top of those. If it’s really cold, I wrap a few Hot Hands in towels and put them in their beds.


This is so sweet.

We have one who has learned to use the littler box for pooping, but will only pee on the mat in the bathroom… which is gross. But he’s old and loves the heat from the woodstove soooo much, we take pity on him in bad weather and just resign myself to having to have sacrifice mats that need sanitizing during bad weather.


Alright, she’s coming home tomorrow.

Appreciate hearing everyone’s experiences. Will keep you posted on how she transitions.


I have brought barn cats in. Ollie was the last. They adjust - it takes awhile - but they do adjust. And they are so grateful. She needs a nice rest home in her dotage. I vote you bring her home.

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I’ve brought in barn cats, that were near feral when we did it. They adjusted very very quickly, we put the in the bathroom after a move and all the visits domesticated them very quickly ha ha They were such sweet kitties after that, I stil miss them.

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My Kitty was a barn cat for 10 years and hated it! Barn kept her fed and healthy and she was a survivor but no one on property wanted an indoor kitty until i moved in. She figured me out super quickly. Arrived at my door step ( barn apartment which overlooked the indoor) within a week of moving in , came in an inspected me place and left. She then would appear most evening for a 2 hour nap and then leave. Which slowly turned into spending the night. The first day of gross weather she refused to go outside. LOL

She’s now been an indoor only cat for 4 years and made 3 house moves and added a Kelpie to the family.

Fingers crossed yours loves her new inside life.



Jingles & AO ~ for a nice quiet weekend of a “homecoming” with warmth & the sense of safety of being an indoor loved cat ~

Bless you for helping her enjoy her senior years in warmth and comfort ~ please share her name and a pic ?


Boy does this sound like a barn cat at the place I used to board. Care to give very general location, or the cat’s name?

She came home tonight and is set up in the kitchen for now.

I don’t think she’ll have any issues adjusting - I figured she might be nervous and hide but she was wanting all the pets and attention (and out of the kitchen).

Unfortunately she had an accident on the drive home, so had to get a bath (which I think she actually enjoyed). Found a tick on her while bathing her :disappointed_relieved: She was given revolution plus earlier today, so I am hoping the bath won’t be an issue for that to work.

She just went to the vet on Thursday, and with stress of move I don’t want to take her again so soon. I might see if my vet will let me do a fecal without bringing her in.

I didn’t realize how really really thin she is though. I know we did the right thing, but gosh it’s hard seeing them in such a state.


Oh she looks like a doll. Sounds like she will fit in just fine.


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When you talk to your vet about the fecal ask about the Revolution Plus vs the bath thing to make sure she does not need to have it re-applied.

She is a beautiful old lady. Congratulations on your new cat.