How do you feed barncats without feeding squirrels

Our cat-cam shows us daily how the mice and squirrels have been getting fat on cat food.

i have a short (3’tall) parsons table in the middle of a shed room with their food upon it and there is an opossum trying to get up on it but cannot…i have set a hav-a-hart trap but that possum hasn’t gotten trapped yet, but i’m determined… (EPM mare and i HATE possums!!).

have not seen a mouse gorging since i put in the table…but this afternoon i saw a squirrel hop right on off there when i peeked in. Is it possible to feed cats and not squirrels?

Possums are terribly misunderstood. Please don’t hurt him. They eat a ton of bugs and cannot carry rabies. They’re also a bit clumsy. I’m sure you can find a perch for cat food that is out of reach of most possums.


This is totally random, and I don’t know how high squirrels can jump or if it would work, but…

I saw a neat video once where a guy got fed up with his bird-feeder-raiding squirrel. The squirrel would climb the feeder post. The guy fastened a slinky a ways up the post and around it, like dropping it over the post and securing the upper round or two. The squirrel would climb up to the point of the slinky, it would sproing, and he would get deposited back down. That was a taller post than your table, though. The video was fun to watch as the squirrel ran up, slid down, ran back up, slid down, etc., until he gave up.

Maybe try putting a slinky around each leg of the table, like sliding it on from the bottom, then securing at the top?

With my cats, I handle this problem by clearly posting serving hours and serving only so much for a meal on a schedule. The cats learn the schedule, and there isn’t food sitting out for varmints later. But my cats are totally tame. It would be harder with cats that still are wary of you. Although on the other hand, it might get them used to you faster.


I was just going to suggest that. Definitely feeding times. I taught the pack of strays, ferals, etc at the one property I lived at that there were certain times when food appeared and certain words that were said to indicate said feeding times. They learned in a matter of days. They adapted to my schedule pretty quickly, too.

I like the slinky idea, too. Or metal inverted cones over table legs at the tops so they climb up and can’t get over them, just keep banging their little heads.


Assuming that the OP is in North America, they are probably dealing with an opossum as opposed to a possum. Opossums carry EPM, as indicated by the OP, and it’s best not to have them around horses.


Here in the South, we call them possums. Same animal, less enunciation. :wink:

They do carry EPM, but it shouldn’t be a problem if you keep your hay on pallets and don’t put the cat food on it. In fact, keeping your barn doors closed, with a high entry spot for cats, will reduce the chance of possums (or opossums) coming into your barn at night. Feeding your horses in feeders helps, too.

The thing is, as was explained to me by UF vets, we have really high rates of EPM exposure down here in Florida and it’s because possums pee and poop in pastures while they hunt down those crickets and grasshoppers that eat your grass and reduce forage available to horses. Horses down here WILL be exposed, but only some will get sick. Many of us have learned to live with them because they also reduce tick populations.

The fancy barns annihilate every living thing in the vicinity. I’m sure they don’t see possums, but at the cost of heavy pesticide exposure.

The last part is about rabies. Possums can’t get rabies and they are extremely efficient bug eaters. They are great to have roaming on farms. I rescue possums and release them into our woods. Since they can range for a mile or two at night and never sleep in the same spot more than 2-3 nights, they move on quickly. They can’t get into our horse barn at night, so we don’t have issues. They do go into our cow barn and forage through the fallen hay for bugs. They do a terrific job! They are incredible little creatures.


Mid-missouri, so definitely north american opossum. I actually like them too, as animals, just not here.

I trap and relocate across the river. Have a friend with bottomland over there that she leases to a cropper…and she said “ok” when i asked if i could let possums loose on her place.

I have hay everywhere. stacked in a shed. stacked in haylofts. and roundbales stacked and tarped. Possums go into the tarped roundbale stacks and set up home there. Before i feed a roundbale to the horse herds i end-on and pull the net and scrape off the outer layer in a ditch.

I have 19 horses, and so far only one (1) of them has ever been symptomatic for EPM. And wouldn’t you know she is my best horse for dressage :frowning:

I will begin a feeding schedule asap. Thanks folks!!

Should i do two per day?

How long shall i leave the food out?

More than one tray for five cats?

I feed my cats on the porch rail. Food appears in the morning (they are all waiting if I’m late) and bowls are collected in the afternoon when they are empty. If they need a midnight snack they can go catch a mouse. I put out one more bowl than the number of cats, one of them likes to try to claim ALL the food and this way there is always another bowl to switch to. If yours get along (and do not fight and scatter the food) then a big tray is fine.


I feed twice a day. Two tame and one feral. I pick up remaining food at night. Seems to work.


I lock my barn cat in the tack room overnight for his safety. He’s fed wet food in the evening when the horses come in & gets locked up. In the tack room overnight, he also has free choice dry food.

In the morning, he’s let out, the dry food is locked up, and the dog polishes off any scraps of wet that he’s left. During the day, there’s no cat food out at all.

Works GREAT. I know he’ll always show up for dinner, there’s no risk of critters in his food, and he’s much safer only being out during the day.


We do pretty much what Simke does, though we let him have a tiny bit of dry during the day. If he doesn’t get some then people tend to fill his bowl, making it harder to use the wet food as a lure at night.

But no opossums in the feed room, as far as I know, other than the time a helpful neighbor dumped one right next to the feed room door. One of the workers saw it dart into the feed room but said nothing until several days later when we finally figured out that Garfield had an unwanted roommate.

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I feed outside twice a day, early in the morning after it gets light, then about an hour before getting dark in the evening. If there is anything left over by dark, I pick it back up. Nothing left out overnight. The cats will learn the schedule very quickly. And if they get hungry at other times, I tell them they can always have some Fast Food.


LOL…“fast food”. i will use this from now til forever!

Well my barn cats ate all the squirrels so that is taken care of. I do have problems with racoons and possums coming to eat cat food so I feed often and do not leave any out after dark ( or other times either). I feed canned food and the little heathens eat like horses so I just keep opening cans until they don’t want any more. There is rarely any left on a plate. Uggs licks the plate clean. He is now so heavy I almost can’t pick him up but he is making sure he never gets hungry again and none is out for the critters.

I did have a time when I was buying premium cat food that the cats hated and Mr. Possum was really happy to clean that up. I decided that was not sustainable so they get Friskees supplemented with chicken livers and canned salmon and they clean that up.

And no I do not harm the possums and racoons but I try really hard not to make my place a good place for them to go. One time I left the lid off my feed bin and a possum got in the bag to eat the food. He ate and pooped in the bag as he was eating. EWWWWWW! Threw that bag away and got less forgetful. I also don’t appreciate it when they poop on my expensive hay. Wild animals need to stay wild.

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Mine learned to eat as a group. I get cheap foil pie pans or cake pans. That way if they get wrecked you just toss them. If they can’t do family style seating then get some cheap tupperware knock off bowls and put those out. Another thing that can get tossed if it gets too awful or they can be field washed.