Different rules for "working" cats? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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Different rules for "working" cats?

I'm tired of the indoor/outdoor debate, so let's talk about something a little bit different.

A. How do you feel about cats used as 'natural' rodent control? IE - Barn cats, shop cats, book cats?

B. Is it possible to be a responsible owner while still maintaining a "working" relationship with cats, as opposed to a "pleasure" one?
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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(Separate post because it's my opinion, not the question posed in the OP)

My family has a large ranch, and they maintain a barn colony that's been around for a long time (longer than my mom's been alive). The purpose of the colony is to control rodent populations around the granaries and barns.

Currently, the population's around 10-15 cats. The animals are moderately socialized (most will greet you when you enter, 4 or 5 are allowed in the house). All the cats are s/n, and the population is maintained when new cats wander in (or are dropped off). Vet care's minimal. The cats have free access to dry food, running water, and the barn is heated year-round. Not all the cats have names, and for those that do, it's a toss-up whether they respond to their name.

This is Sam, the 'alpha cat'


He's about 12 years old, I think (I remember him as a dapper young Tom around 2001/2001). Obviously he's not in peak physical condition and his life hasn't been easy, but he's earned his keep and a spot inside whenever he wants.

That was a long ramble (because I'm bored at work), but... For me, I think working colonies/populations have a place in the world. I much prefer using a 'natural' solution for pest control, compared to Warfarin or other poisons/chemicals. However, I recognize these are "working" cats, not "hobby" cats, if you can put it that way. They exist to be useful, and there's a certain consideration of return on investment when it comes to their care. Much like a horse or oxen on a "real" farm versus a "hobby" farm, when injury or illness happens, you have to consider the $$$ of upkeep versus the usefulness.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 03:03 PM
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A- Aslong as the cat is content catching the rodents , and doing so poses no threat to the cat.

B- Yes , if you give them the essentials like food , water , medical care and suitable housing , you are being a responsible owner by catering to their needs.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 03:16 PM
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I don't know Jaq. Heated barn, available dry food, running water, inside when you want, outside when you want, the same health insurance as most Americans. Sounds like a nice place to work. Do they have 401Ks?

The last time people tried to elimate free roaming cats it resulted in The Black Plague.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 03:26 PM
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Around here most farms have working cats. The ones where I keep my horse are very well looked after, others aren't so fortunate but in general, most of them seem to do very well.

When my friend split up from her husband, she took a couple of the farm cats with her - they adusted very well. One lived to be about 17 and the other is still alive although he is getting a bit fragile.

The shelter I support rehomes "working cats" as well as pets. Usuay they are the feral / semi-feral ones that couldn't be neutered and released.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dave_ph View Post
I don't know Jaq. Heated barn, available dry food, running water, inside when you want, outside when you want, the same health insurance as most Americans. Sounds like a nice place to work. Do they have 401Ks?
Haha, nope. That falls into the "minimal vet care" area. If Sammy there got a URI tomorrow or came down with something, on the off chance he hung around long enough for a diagnosis (on the thrice-yearly vet visit), the most he'd get is a spot on the window sill. No grain-free, veggie-free, raw-ground-added-bone-B12-etc supplements or anything.

To be honest, I think of the barn cats as almost a different species then my Io. They deserve respect and regard, but they're around for different reasons then my cat. Io's job is to live a long time and be my fuzzy-butted companion. Sammy and his crew exist to eat the pests.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 05:02 PM
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Barn cats are a good thing. The best of both worlds. Not every cat is ment to be a pampered princess. I remember when i went to adopt my Binks, there was a young couple next to me who just bought a farm house and wanted some cats. The manager offered them some cats that were all spayed and nutered but to wild to be adopetd out as pets. Free of charge. Those cats found a good home I would like to think. (along with my binks, who was a stray also)

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 05:57 PM
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I've tried having "working" cats. Impossible to get them to remember to punch in. And the catnip breaks were endless. Also, 26 cat-naps in one shift?

Slackers. All of them.

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 06:16 PM
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I agree that controlling rodents naturally is better than using poisons. But..

Quote:
when injury or illness happens, you have to consider the $$$ of upkeep versus the usefulness.
means the cats are only cared for when they are useful. They have a better life than some cats but not an ideal life.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 06:47 PM
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I agree that there is a time and place for that...far away from roads and any dangerous predators. That seriously narrows down the area where I'd be ok with it though.

One other thing I'll mention...I don't think it's a good idea to get a kitten that was born to an inside mum and then thrust them outside. The only way I could see myself ever having a cat that went outside is if they adopted me and were comfortable outside, old enough to care for themselves, and I was in a location that was friendly and safe for outside cats. I would never dream of letting any of my current kitties outside on purpose, outside of a pen or something, they just aren't savy.

The Humane Society here does a 'barn buddies' program but I'm not a fan. Basically if the cat has litterbox problems and is surrendered they go to this program. No thought is given to whether they're used to outside, have caught mice before, or their level of care other than some sort of basic shelter and some food. It's a good idea, but it's seriously lacking in reality. They don't use ferals/semi ferals, those just get euthanized immediately.
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