A farm isn’t complete if it doesn’t have barn cats. Barn cats are crucial in keeping the rodent population down. That’s what I hear, anyway. What’s difficult for me is that I’ve never had barn cats. The one outdoor cat I’ve ever had was killed by the neighbor’s dogs in town. I’ve worked on and off in veterinary clinics since I was 15 years old and it has been ingrained in me to take good care of my pets, feed them good food, and keep them safe. The thought of having outdoor cats who run from me, eat crap food, and that I have no relationship with beyond the occasional glimpse of fur as they run away is foreign at best. But, the thought of having a mouse infestation is much, much worse.
Early on, I found a local feral cat rescue group (Northern Colorado Friends of Ferals, if you’re interested) that traps, spays, and neuters feral cats and returns them to their colonies. Occasionally, they need to place a colony of cats and look for families with barns who want a colony for their barn. I thought this would be a perfect fit for us and contacted them. Shortly after, we noticed an orange cat running across the field. I started putting food out and every morning it was gone. Soon enough, we discovered two orange cats running around. Then, we saw a tiny orange and white kitty hiding one day.
Shortly after learning that we had 3! cats running around, I got a call from the Feral group…they had a colony of cats for us! Well, seems like we have our own colony already, so thanks, but I don’t want to become the crazy cat lady.
About 6 weeks ago, I noticed that momma kitty was looking a bit round. Yep, pregnant again. Little whore.
I got a big dog kennel and put it in a safe place in the barn, barricaded it with a bale of hay, put a heated bed in, and put the food and water near by. Nice place to have kittens, don’t you think? I still worried, as I watched momma’s belly grow, that she would have the kitties in a hidden place we wouldn’t be able to find.
Yesterday, as the wind whipped cold air in my face, I heard a faint mewing. After some investigation, I found momma and her 5 new babies. Were they in the wonderful, soft, warm, protected area I set up for them? Hell no! She had them in a metal feed trough outside! Totally unprotected and freezing! ARG!
I knew I had to move them, but I worried that momma would rip me in half if I tried. Fortunately, she looked as surprised at her situation as I was. She purred as I rubbed her head and I thought I had a chance. I started with the kitten she kicked away. The one who was barely moving and who I thought was dead when I first saw him. I slowly reached in and pulled him to me….momma didn’t seem to mind. I wrapped him in a wash cloth and handed him to the eldest….she started rubbing him to warm him and revive him. Then, I had to move her to get to the others. I handed one to my youngest and grabbed the last 3, wrapping them up against the cold wind. We took them into the barn and put them on the heated bed. Momma followed us in, curled up around her brood, and looked content with the change.
For now, we have 5 brand new kittens. Safe and warm in the barn. Even the one momma kicked away seems to be thriving! Here’s the brood: