Barn Cat Issues - Need to vent & some advice - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 09:28 PM Thread Starter
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Barn Cat Issues - Need to vent & some advice

Hello all,

I seem to have gotten myself into a situation and I'm not sure the best way to proceed.

On my property, I have a large (3,600 sq. ft.) outbuilding. We call it a barn, but it's really just a very large garage with a built-in apartment - the guy that built this place built the barn, put an apartment in and then lived there while building the house. Anyway, it has a living room, three bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen (though the bathroom and kitchen are no longer in service). I work out of this building, plus store a hot rod in there and this winter, I had multiple issues with mice. After doing some research, my wife and I decided that barn cats were the perfect solution. Our plan is to have the be "indoor only" barn cats, let them eventually have free roam of the entire building but keep them inside.

My wife and I toured the local humane society and talked to the woman that runs the barn cat adoption. There is a lot of information online about acclimating barn cats (specifically, keeping them in large kennels for a couple of weeks as they get used to their surroundings). The humane society had two cats that were already acclimated with each other, so we took them (both females). Because of the apartment setup, the woman that runs the program agreed that we didn't need the kennels - we could just put the two cats in a room together and be done.

Last Thursday morning, I picked up the two cats and got them situated in the room. Two litter boxes, multiple beds and places to hide, toys, etc. That's when everything basically went bad.

Friday morning, I found urine on the floor near a litter box. I cleaned it up and changed the type of litter. Their food - dry food, in two bowls - was mostly gone. I went back in the house and my wife went out to check on the cats and said she couldn't find one. I went back out there and was horrified to discover I missed something really, really big - the walls in the apartment section were only 9 ft. tall and ended before the ceiling. The cats were able to climb them and get to other areas of the aparment. We eventually found the cat on top of one of the last remaining kitchen cabinets, but she's not the type of cat you can grab, hold or pickup, she's very skittish around people.

We eventually opened up the bedroom door and gave both cats full access to the whole apartment. I added a third litter box, moved some of their beds around and made sure there was nothing in any other room that could cause problems. I use the apartment for lumber storage/wood-working so there is a lot of wood stored, saws not in use, etc. Nothing that can hurt a cat, but a lot of places they can hide.

Saturday morning, there was urine outside a litter box (a different one) again. The litter box itself was full, so we are now cleaning all 3 twice a day, morning and night. Since then, we've had no urine issues.

But, here are my issues:

1) It's very hard to find the cats, see the cats, etc. I try to spend time over there so they get used to me but on most occasions, I don't even see them. Not sure if me being there is doing any good or not. I'm also petrified that I'm going to have to try and catch one or both of them and...I just have no idea how I'd do that and it's stressing me out.

2) The cats don't seem to be eating enough. Since that first night, the two of them combined are eating maybe 1/2 a bowl of food. I've tried three different foods, blends, etc. and they just don't eat much. I left some wet food out for them tonight, I'm hoping they eat that.

3) Because of the issues we have seen them, I installed a Wifi camera in their "main" room so I can see them moving around. One of the cat's steps in and out of the litter box sometimes, without using. Not sure if this is normal? The same cat also sniffs at the food a lot but doesn't eat much.

4) Tonight on the camera, I saw the cats fight. It wasn't long or really bad, but one cat chased the other and batted at her and both had very aggressive postures. I was hoping to avoid this since they were roommates at the humane society.


I'm a long time cat owner, we currently have three that are full-time indoor cats and I'm not sure I'm cut out to own barn cats - I get stressed out wondering where they are at, if they are eating enough, the fighting, etc. I know it hasn't even been a week yet and I'm not thinking of returning them or anything like that, I'm just not sure what I should do.

Last edited by marie73; 05-15-2019 at 10:35 PM. Reason: language
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 10:48 PM
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I haven't had any experience with feral or barn cats, but just wondering if their food intake is less because they are finding mice to eat or some other animals such as baby rabbits? It's possible the squabbles between them are the fact they are in a new environment and really have adjusted yet, and are jumpy and wary of everything that is new to them. Hopefully they will settle down, and become calmer around you. All the best!

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 09:11 PM
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Great response, I totally agree with you.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 09:15 PM
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You are expecting too much too soon. Your spending time there is definitely helping the cats get used to you. But
remember these are semi-feral cats and it will take time for them to trust you. Just leave them be and if they approach
you call them in soft tone "kitty kitty" or if you have named them that is even better. Bring over some tasty cat treats if hey do come to you as a reward. But as the other poster said, probably catching the mice so not a huge appetite for the
cat food. Try different flavors and see which one they prefer. Good luck.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old Today, 03:30 PM
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Are you using the same kind of litter that they used at the humane society? If it's a very different scent or texture, they might not recognize it as litter.
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