Racoon question - will it move on? tips for keeping it away? how to deal with barn cats (food/door)?

I did find a thread from January about racoons living in an indoor, I think my problem is different enough that I started a new thread. So far, no racoons are living in the barn, and I want to keep it that way!

Two nights ago, during a bad snowstorm (early evening) I was in barn getting ready to bring horses in and there was a huge ruckus in one of the donkeys run in shed. The donkeys were chasing two racoons out of shed, one racoon headed for barn, the other went the other way - moving quickly across a 10+ acre field. I now think the one that headed for barn ended up camping out near barn for the night.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it stuck around and there was cat food put out in the morning. I went back inside and came out a short time later to find it was in the barn. I got it out of barn, and it took off to a neighbor’s barn down the road - the other direction of where its friend went the night before. This neighbor (cows, not horses) has complained profusely about having an abundance of racoons in and around their barns for years. I have not had a problem, I think I have seen one racoon in the last ten years, but I had dogs who always accompanied me up until last year or maybe the donkeys chased them off, not sure but have never even seen their footprints/tracks much less an actual racoon besides that one time.

It came back last night. The sliding barn doors don’t stay completely shut tight, are moveable to some degree, and it squeezed in. All cat food was removed, it checked the place out but wouldn’t leave and after a couple hours I was desperate, so put a can of cat food upwind of barn 100ft or so just to get it to leave since previous attempts just had it coming back in through the weak doors. While it was eating, I got out my drill, 3/4 " plywood, 2x10s, and made the doors tight but still functional. It held. I can see where the racoon tore chunks off the door and footprints all around barn, but it was unable to come back into the barn.

Did I really screw up putting that food out to get it out of the barn? If I keep doors shut, will it eventually go away for good? I expect it will come back and try to get in barn again, any idea for how long it might keep coming back before deciding nothing to eat here? Should I keep barn doors shut 24/7?

During wee hours barn check I realized I had also locked in two feral cats that I think came from cow barn down the road. I was thinking of creating a cat door really high off the ground so they can get out. From what I’ve read racoons can’t access openings if they are high enough. Anyone have firsthand experience with this and any tips?

I have my own barn cats, not feral and fixed/shots up to date. My plan is that they will get only dry food in the day - will this be ok?

I don’t think the racoon was rabid, just scared and hungry and now alone without its friend. It looked young to me, but I don’t know anything about racoons. It did seem to be favoring a front paw, no visible injuries so perhaps the donkey got it but seemed healthy otherwise.

Any advice appreciated. They sure look cute until they aren’t. And impressively destructive.


I will be following this thread. I think raccoons climb well. Last year, I had a mother and two kits in the rafters of the indoor. One kit fell…but was fine after he caught his breath. I think they are awful (but cute).

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Your cats will be fine if you don’t leave food out at night.
My barncat lived this way for 10yrs.
Raccoons can climb, so leaving food out at a height won’t deter one that gets in.
I think you were right to bait the raccoon with food away from your barn & by securing the doors.
I’d expect the raccoon to give up trying to get in after a week or less :crossed_fingers:
But, I’m no wildlife expert, just what’s worked for me.
Speaking of experts… @wildlifer ?


They will try for a good while to get at yummy smelling food. You must secure it.

The inhumane thing to do is trap and relocate.
The Humane thing to do IF this one doesn’t move on, is to dispatch it quickly.

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It’s pretty simple - animals look for food & safety. If the raccoon cannot procure any more easy food, it will move along. Do not put out any more food trying to “lure” it anywhere, they don’t really think like that, just give it a few days to learn it’s not a resource-rich location (during which, of course, you make sure it’s NOT such a location).

ETA - relocation is ineffective, as you have learned, & in many places, illegal.


Raccoons can climb well. Think about coon hunting with hounds and treeing raccoons.

And they recall where they easily find food. Short of shooting, or trapping and shooting, or a coyote doing the job for you, I think you are stuck with visits from your raccoon as long as you leave out food for cats.


Am I understanding you that this raccoon was out in broad daylight?

Thank you everyone for advice.

I have no plans to trap and relocate. I totally understand the negatives of doing that. I do have a few hav-a-heart traps that I use to trap n/s the feral cats (cow barn has a history of letting cats get out of control, I’ve fixed dozens of cats since I’ve moved here). I did call a wild nuisance animal removal guy who mentioned he prefers to trap first, so I got them out in case it comes to that, but he has yet to call me back.

My only reason to put out the canned food was to get him out of the barn so I had time to fix the doors, I have no plans to put any food outside at all. Ever. I do think it sets me up for a re-visit but I needed it out of the barn and wasn’t sure what else to do.

As for feeding barn cats - What would you recommend? I was planning to just leave dry food out in daylight hours, maybe 9-3? No more canned food at all, of course.

Looks like a high level cat door is out, and that those feral cats will have to get used to me or escape when bringing horses in/out. Doors will be shut the rest of the time!!

thanks again for advice.

It was very early morning. Like dawn or maybe before. I was thinking it smelled the food from where it was hidden near barn and was hungry. I’m not sure that’s considered within normal waking hours for them.

Ah ok, I thought it was daylight and this raccoon is just bee bopping around. Dawn is normal activity time for them, daylight is not!

I’d keep the place locked up for awhile to help him move on - if that doesn’t work you are stuck dispatching him.

While raccoons are basically nocturnal if they are comfortable in an area they certainly move around in daylight. Where I live sunset is at 9 pm in summer, and the raccoons we fed as children came begging at the back door at supper time while it was still plenty light out.

They can get into anything, pull off shingles to nest in attic crawl spaces. If nextdoor is breeding raccoons then you will absolutely get their overflow.


I have a feral cat colony that I feed at my barn but don’t let inside (they stay in the neighbor’s outbuilding --I see them there. I keep a game cam on them. Currently there are 4 regulars and 11" sometimers". All are spayed and neutered and tipped.

I also have a population of raccoons and a possum. They show up on the game cam too.

I allow the possum and raccoons to exist (outside of my barn) because they are good at killing mice. My barn is tight, and neither possum or raccoon can access.

Feeding the barn cats and not the possum and racoons was a problem until I read that raccoons and possums can’t jump. They can climb and they can jump DOWN, but the cannot jump up. Soooo --I took two barrels and turned them upside down. I then put a metal water tank (trough) that leaked, upside down over the barrels. That gave me a flat surface for the cat food. The racoons cannot climb the slick sides of the water tank and the barrels hold it up high enough off the ground they can’t get their front feet on top to climb up.

Next problem was the cat food (I feed dry) was getting wet and ruined when it rained. Tried a few things, then put the cat foot in a dish inside a covered litterbox (clean, no litter) that had a swinging door. It took the ferals awhile to figure out the door --but all of them now know there is food in there. The food stays dry.

The only downside of my set up (it is behind the barn) is that it looks like a trash heap with overturned barrels, a water tank with a hole in it and a cat litter box on top. Maybe this summer I’ll spray paint the whole thing and plant flowers.

I do have some (funny to me) pictures of raccoons trying to climb my set up --and falling backwards. I think they still come for the scraps of cat food that occasionally fall from the water tank.

Anyway, works for me.


Great idea!

I see them before dusk in the summer time, but not often after dawn. Their feeding should be done, they should have patrolled everything by then. Seeing them in the morning time after sunrise would trip my “rabies” warning sign.

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Ah. We don’t have rabies here. It’s true that the one I rescued from the dumpster at mid day was av runt with half a tail.

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:+1: Painting will unify your Rube Goldberg-esque contraption.
I repurposed 2 galvanized cans “remodeled” by rogue horses as planters.

Now I just need to find a perennial that horses won’t eat.
These mums did not survive.
I had better luck with coleus & lantana.

Thank you for the details! Sounds like a good solution. I’m all about function at this point, looks are a non-issue. Perhaps that will change someday but right now I’m in battle mode. :slight_smile: I do have some barrels and might be able to set up something similar inside barn as a second layer of protection just in case my late-night door fix doesn’t hold. The sliding door fixes still look good, but I think I can improve it, maybe this weekend. Fort Knox will be my new barn name.

Next is buying game cameras. I’ve been wanting them for a long time and remember there was a thread or two about them. Now seems a good time to get them.

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We just had one of these. I came up the hill to check horse water at 11am and my 3 dogs raced off by my hen house barking in that certain tone. Afraid it might have been one of my barn cats I walked over to see a thin raccoon!

I ran next door to ask my FIL what I should do and his dog heard the barking, slipped out the door, ran over and immediately he and my 35 pound “wonder dog” Sadie quickly dispatched it. My 1 year old GSD/ Anatolian lunged at it but would not grab it.

I think maybe distemper and thankfully no chickens were harmed. From experience at our hog barns as long as they can get food they will return. We had a family rip through the metal feed bins!

Dispatching was the only remedy.


If you routinely leave cat food available for your cats, in an open environment where other wild animals can get access to it, they will come. And keep coming.

Skunks love cat food too, by the way.

I grew up on a farm, and I now have my own property out of town. You don’t leave animal food outdoors. Ever. Unless you want to invite wild guests.

I would feed your cats once or twice a day. Call them, and they’ll come running, and eat the food gone. If one misses a meal, they’ll get the next one. Not a big deal. If you want to keep the barn locked up tight, you can, that’s your call. But of course, your cats then cannot come and go as they please.

Your barn cats should be just fine. After all, they should be doing their job catching birds, mice, gophers, etc and whatever else you have available in your area.

We have three cats. They share one itty bitty can of wet food in the morning. I don’t recall any of them ever missing breakfast - maybe once in a blue moon. They know the routine and they are around in the morning. I keep dry food available for them in the garage, that is kept closed. If they are in the garage, great, they eat what they want. If they choose to go outside and stay outside all day and all night, fine, they go and catch themselves something to eat.


I once had a raccoon who thought the barn was a lovely new home. Someone, or maybe I read it online somewhere, said to play the radio 24 hrs/day for a few days but it has to be on a talk radio station. I did that for about a week and he/she left and never returned.

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