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Should we get a cat?

 
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Riley Hughes wrote: I am confident that knowing how to properly place and set traps can kill just as many rodents as a cat can, plus you are very unlikely to catch a bird in a trap.



I don't disagree with your post.  I have cats, and I see some of the disadvantages you have mentioned.  The quoted part of your post made me laugh though.  It may very well be true where you are, but I'm quite certain you can't trap the number of rodents my cats can kill.  I've used every kind of trap there is I think, and my cats are far, far more successful at getting rodents than traps are.  The best traps I have found are a particular type of snap trap that I got on Amazon.  They work great except for one thing.  They can only catch one rodent, and then you have to set them again.  My female cat can easily kill a dozen a day.  When she moved into my chicken coop, she was just a baby.  I had a terrible rat infestation.  I tried everything except poison. I bought those traps where they are supposed to kill the little ramp and fall into a 5 gal bucket.  I would sit out and wait for them and shoot them.  I couldn't put a dent in the population and they were breeding faster than I could kill them.  The kitten moved in and within a week, the rats were history.  These were rats nearly as big as she was.  

If I didn't want to have cats, but I wanted to get rid of my rodent population, I would get some form of rat terrier.  They have many of the advantages of a cat, but without the disadvantages.
 
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Julie Granzin wrote:Have you tried those sonic repellant stakes? I'm like you, I don't want a cat. Yeah they cute and all that but I'm good🤣 The gophers were pulling plants down into their holes right in front of me! We got a 8 pack off Amazon and no more problems! We were already flooding their new holes in an attempt to keep them away also.



We used the battery-powered thumpers in the SoCal desert (not sonic -- these made a big thump at random intervals). They did repel gophers pretty well. Am rather surprised they didn't attract sandworms.

However, didn't do a durn thing against mice. How many mice did we have? bucket of water on the porch (not even set up special for mice to climb into) caught 280 mice in 10 days, and didn't make a dent.

I can hear the sonic repellers, like high pressure in my ears. Figure that can't be good...
 
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Riley Hughes wrote:In my experience, cats will turn your vegetable garden into a litterbox. Fresh feces is something you don't want on your vegetables, especially cat feces. Now, I'm not saying poop is gross so don't have animals, what I am saying is that if you have good fluffy soil in your garden the cats will specifically target it as a toilet. It has been a major problem in the past for us with roommates cats, our cats, neighbor cats, feral cats... and even a bobcat. There is nothing at all that has consistently detoured them. We've tried everything from spreading cayenne around/on the garden to spraying them with a water hose. The only thing that works is keeping the domestic ones off the property. and live trapping/relocating the feral ones. On a side note, they typically kill anything they can, which includes song birds, and songbirds can be extremely beneficial for insect control, not to mention that cats are decimating their population. In my OPINION, cats only have two good uses. As indoor only pets, and for killing rats/mice. But there are other ways to get rid of rats and mice so they really aren't worth all of the downsides



Our garden is fenced in, covered in mulch and definitely wouldn’t be classified as “good fluffy soil”. I dont think a cat would find it too appropriate of a place to use as a litter box, though I could be wrong. And I’m aware that cats sometimes kill birds and that can be looked at negatively, but they kill rodents and that can be looked at positively. Everything has ups and downs.

Sure there are other ways to get rid of rodents. I’ve been trapping them and gave gotten 8 in the last week or so, but that requires daily work on my part checking, baiting and resetting traps. And figuring out what to do with the dead voles. Or I could use poison but surely that would be just as bad as cats killing songbirds. Or I could try to attract snakes to the garden, but that would help in some theoretical future, not right now. Plus, I honestly can’t figure out why we dont have snakes anymore so dont know what I would do to change that. They have plenty of cover, rocks, planks of wood to hide under, rodents to eat, sheds to live under… but still no snakes. And I’m not redesigning the entire garden to be vole-proof. That seems unreasonable.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Rez Zircon wrote:I have five barn cats plus a couple ferals, and NONE of them poops in my garden, despite that they do hunt there, and in winter they den under the adjacent work shack. I don't do anything to prevent them, but I do ditch-irrigate, so all the ground is covered with either plants or mud, and the ditches harden up between waterings. (This system also seems to discourage snails and perhaps other pests. I rarely need to do anything to protect my plants.)

As to songbirds, cats do kill a few, but rats will completely wipe out birds, because rats climb up to the nests and eat the eggs and fledglings. (I have personally seen this happen after someone's dog killed all the local cats and we got overrun with roof rats. Within a year a large bird population had zeroed out.) And it's not like songbirds are otherwise free of predators, especially in rural areas. Everything from foxes to weasels preys on them, all the time.



Very good points made here!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Riley Hughes wrote:

Rez Zircon wrote:I have five barn cats plus a couple ferals, and NONE of them poops in my garden, despite that they do hunt there, and in winter they den under the adjacent work shack. I don't do anything to prevent them, but I do ditch-irrigate, so all the ground is covered with either plants or mud, and the ditches harden up between waterings. (This system also seems to discourage snails and perhaps other pests. I rarely need to do anything to protect my plants.)

As to songbirds, cats do kill a few, but rats will completely wipe out birds, because rats climb up to the nests and eat the eggs and fledglings. (I have personally seen this happen after someone's dog killed all the local cats and we got overrun with roof rats. Within a year a large bird population had zeroed out.) And it's not like songbirds are otherwise free of predators, especially in rural areas. Everything from foxes to weasels preys on them, all the time.



I'm glad you have had a good experience with cats. My response to the question in this thread was entirely based on my personal experience with cats and of friends with the same experiences. I still stand by my conclusion though, that there are better ways to knock back mice and rat populations than having barn cats. This is the way we have done it

1. Contain food sources. Once we started keeping all of our feed and the produce from our garden in locking bins, barrels, and other containers, the problem was drastically reduced because they no longer had an easy food source.
2. Traps. Whatever your preferred trap is, after containing potential food sources, any straggling rodent populations can be culled using traps. I am confident that knowing how to properly place and set traps can kill just as many rodents as a cat can, plus you are very unlikely to catch a bird in a trap.

All I am saying, is that in my experience, it has been easier to deal with the rodent population than it was for us to deal with the problems cats created. And although birds have other 'natural and native' predators. Cats DO contribute significantly to an existing songbird depopulation problem and feral cats should be classified as an invasive species. Climate change, and ecological destruction do not need additional help from cats, they are doing a fine job destroying the natural environment on their own.

Here are some additional problems cats have created for us
- Scratching through greenhouse and hightunnel plastic
- destroying several square feet of freshly seeded garden bed because they always want to poop and then scratch through the freshly amended soil.
- Antagonizing the guard dogs and getting chased through the garden beds (I do consider this a cat problem, the dogs are necessary for protecting livestock from predators and fruit trees from deer which are very costly assets to lose.) I don't know this for sure, but they appear to antagonize them on purpose, dogs stay out of the gardens otherwise.
- I'd still have rats and mice. The cats do kill some. But before implementing my other solutions the cats didn't seem to make a noticeable difference in the rodent problem

Again, this is just my opinion based on my experience and I am glad you have found a way to successfully keep them out of the garden. I still think cats make great indoor pets.



As far as i can tell, the voles are eating the garden. They cant access any dog or chicken feed and theres no other domestic type food available to them other than our annual vegetables. They’re eating all our potatoes and seem to have destroyed several other plants as all that is left where I planted them (and replanted after the first casualties) is a vole sized hole.

The trapping is working, but requires daily effort from me. Rain sets the traps off. Slugs eat the peanut butter from them. And im worried that as soon as I pull the remaining potatoes the surviving voles will move on to our young trees.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Julie Granzin wrote:Have you tried those sonic repellant stakes? I'm like you, I don't want a cat. Yeah they cute and all that but I'm good🤣 The gophers were pulling plants down into their holes right in front of me! We got a 8 pack off Amazon and no more problems! We were already flooding their new holes in an attempt to keep them away also.



Im not even sure what you’re talking about. Are those the things that make extremely high pitched noises when they sense movement nearby? I can’t stand those things. Makes my head feel like its going to pop.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Riley Hughes wrote: I am confident that knowing how to properly place and set traps can kill just as many rodents as a cat can, plus you are very unlikely to catch a bird in a trap.



I don't disagree with your post.  I have cats, and I see some of the disadvantages you have mentioned.  The quoted part of your post made me laugh though.  It may very well be true where you are, but I'm quite certain you can't trap the number of rodents my cats can kill.  I've used every kind of trap there is I think, and my cats are far, far more successful at getting rodents than traps are.  The best traps I have found are a particular type of snap trap that I got on Amazon.  They work great except for one thing.  They can only catch one rodent, and then you have to set them again.  My female cat can easily kill a dozen a day.  When she moved into my chicken coop, she was just a baby.  I had a terrible rat infestation.  I tried everything except poison. I bought those traps where they are supposed to kill the little ramp and fall into a 5 gal bucket.  I would sit out and wait for them and shoot them.  I couldn't put a dent in the population and they were breeding faster than I could kill them.  The kitten moved in and within a week, the rats were history.  These were rats nearly as big as she was.  

If I didn't want to have cats, but I wanted to get rid of my rodent population, I would get some form of rat terrier.  They have many of the advantages of a cat, but without the disadvantages.



Wouldn’t the disadvantage of a terrier be all the holes they dig?
 
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There are a total of 3 indoor/outdoor cats in my house. At least one immediate neighbor has one and there's a well established feral community that regularly crosses my yard because another neighbor feeds them.  I regularly have full flocks in my yard of everything from hummingbirds to Blue Jays.

Additionally, I sometimes have to stop them from peeing in the garden, but I have never caught them pooping in it.  

I was reading an article this morning about walking cats on leashes and they spoke with a wildlife expert from England who listed several human actions that are having far more destructive impact on bird population than even the worst guesstimate of cats, and pointed out that most of the garden birds cat do kill are old or sick.  He actually suggested that cats were a scapegoat for the issue.  If you want to encourage song birds then they need food, water, and shelter from all sorts of predators.  I provide that through all sorts of plants and a large brush pile.  
 
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Hi, Brody

Since you have had time to consider whether to get a cat, I was wondering if you have made a decision or if you still have questions about cats.

On the topic of birds that someone brought up I had discussed this in my reply earlier about our now two-month resident kitten, which makes her about four month old:

You can tell that she has the hunting instinct.

I told dear hubby that since we had a bird feeder she would be a problem though we have found she doesn't bother the small birds and only goes after the scrub jays.  Her nails are not strong enough yet so if she catches one it can still fly away.



And I understand that ours is still a kitten.

She leaves the songbirds alone on only goes after scrub jays. And I expect that this will still be the case when she grows up.

That said, I am still curious as to what you have decided.
 
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I'm a cat person. I consider cats a definite requirement in my life. To me, a house is not a home unless there are plants and cats.

I agree that giving the birds safe places keeps the cats away from them. I design for places cats like to be, places they can hunt rodents, and places where birds are safe from the cats. I rarely have bird kills, but have lots of rodent kills. Good design takes into account all factors and inhabitants :D
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:Im not even sure what you’re talking about. Are those the things that make extremely high pitched noises when they sense movement nearby? I can’t stand those things. Makes my head feel like its going to pop.



The gopher stakes we used in the desert don't make any noise. They're about 18 inches long and you drive them most of the way into the ground (up to the battery compartment... maybe they come in solar now). They have a mechanical thumper that goes off at irregular intervals to simulate predator footsteps. We were rather surprised that they worked, since the footsteps of two people and multiple dogs had no effect. But apparently it's different when the impact happens below ground, because pretty quick we didn't have any gophers.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Anne Miller wrote:Hi, Brody

Since you have had time to consider whether to get a cat, I was wondering if you have made a decision or if you still have questions about cats.

On the topic of birds that someone brought up I had discussed this in my reply earlier about our now two-month resident kitten, which makes her about four month old:

You can tell that she has the hunting instinct.

I told dear hubby that since we had a bird feeder she would be a problem though we have found she doesn't bother the small birds and only goes after the scrub jays.  Her nails are not strong enough yet so if she catches one it can still fly away.



And I understand that ours is still a kitten.

She leaves the songbirds alone on only goes after scrub jays. And I expect that this will still be the case when she grows up.

That said, I am still curious as to what you have decided.



I guess as of now the topic has fizzled out. My wife wants something “cute” but I want something useful. The adopt a cat for $25 deal is over at our local shelter. She mentioned someone having a stray with kittens around and we could go get them, but I’m not interested in kittens or needy cute cats. I want a hungry rodent killer and couldn’t care less how cute it is. I also dont want it in the house and dont want to need to give it much attention. So I guess I’m sticking with mouse traps and praying for snakes to come back to the yard!

So far I’ve gotten 8 in mouse traps. Oddly though, I found one vole apparently dying but not in a trap. Just moving very slow on the garden path and not trying to escape. Also found another dead next to a set-off trap. Either the trap snapped and gave it a heart attack or something weird is going on. Maybe they’re getting a disease or something.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Rez Zircon wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:Im not even sure what you’re talking about. Are those the things that make extremely high pitched noises when they sense movement nearby? I can’t stand those things. Makes my head feel like its going to pop.



The gopher stakes we used in the desert don't make any noise. They're about 18 inches long and you drive them most of the way into the ground (up to the battery compartment... maybe they come in solar now). They have a mechanical thumper that goes off at irregular intervals to simulate predator footsteps. We were rather surprised that they worked, since the footsteps of two people and multiple dogs had no effect. But apparently it's different when the impact happens below ground, because pretty quick we didn't have any gophers.



Never heard of such a thing but its very interesting. Maybe ill give them a try!
 
Anne Miller
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Brody said, "I guess as of now the topic has fizzled out. My wife wants something “cute” but I want something useful. The adopt a cat for $25 deal is over at our local shelter. She mentioned someone having a stray with kittens around and we could go get them, but I’m not interested in kittens or needy cute cats. I want a hungry rodent killer and couldn’t care less how cute it is.



Would your wife like a cute cuddly kitten for a pet?  I think she does.

Go get the stray cat with kittens.  Maybe you can find homes for all the kittens except Mom and one cuddly kitten.

The stray momma cat had to fend for herself and her kittens until someone took to helping them.

Our kitten has that fierce hunting instinct that you are looking for because her mother taught her.

The proof is how a 3-month-old kitten caught a scrub jay.  They are not little birds as the scrub jay is bigger than Blue Jays.

Just something to consider.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Anne Miller wrote:

Brody said, "I guess as of now the topic has fizzled out. My wife wants something “cute” but I want something useful. The adopt a cat for $25 deal is over at our local shelter. She mentioned someone having a stray with kittens around and we could go get them, but I’m not interested in kittens or needy cute cats. I want a hungry rodent killer and couldn’t care less how cute it is.



Would your wife like a cute cuddly kitten for a pet?  I think she does.

Go get the stray cat with kittens.  Maybe you can find homes for all the kittens except Mom and one cuddly kitten.

The stray momma cat had to fend for herself and her kittens until someone took to helping them.

Our kitten has that fierce hunting instinct that you are looking for because her mother taught her.

The proof is how a 3-month-old kitten caught a scrub jay.  They are not little birds as the scrub jay is bigger than Blue Jays.

Just something to consider.



I think both of us may be somewhat allergic to cats so I really dont want one in the house. Every time we cat sit for a friend both of our eyes and throats get noticeably itchy. Maybe if we were able to get the mom cat and a kitten and keep them outside then that would be ok. She just “wants something for herself” with the cat situation. I interpret that as meaning something cute and cuddly to play with. I told her that the idea she has of “herself” may be a bit narrow,  and that she could consider having potatoes from the garden to eat as a benefit from having a cat (since the voles wont eat all the potatoes), but she just rolls her eyes.

Im not a fighter. If shes going to be difficult about the cat situation ill just keep trapping voles and throwing them in the compost.

We have a long ride this evening so maybe I’ll bring up the cat subject again and see what happens.
 
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Our best rodent killers started as stray kittens. We kept them in a large dog crate for a week so the dog could get to know them. Plus my husband is allergic and no way can we have indoor cats.

We got the 2 when they were about 6 weeks old. That was enough time to learn from their mom. They are almost 2 now. Best hunters ever. We do loose the occasional bird but they have drastically improved the amount of mice we were dealing with in the workshop and woodsheds. Never had a rodent make it in the house.

They fit the bill for being cute, but have no interest in coming inside. They come by to get a snack and some attention, but mostly do their own thing. They have been fixed as I don’t want a colony and they do get rabies shots at vet.  We like to get two so they have company and that seems to help keep them more bonded to each other and not stuck to us. Dog still doesn’t care for cats except “his cats”.
 
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Speaking to winter shelter options, I know someone who has a cute cat house on their front porch. Inside is a pressure sensitive heating pad. This one is not pressure sensitive, but gives you an idea.

Your temps are colder than mine, as we rarely get below 10* F. We provide a 4x4 cage covered in carpet, and  heat lamp in it for when it dips below 30* F. But the cats are rarely in there even at that temp. We do provide a reperposed cooler in there too. Here is a design for use in NY. No heating provided.

My cats are weird. They use it in summers when the carpet is removed.
 
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I'll give my opinion among several fine replies.  

First, cats are great at the control of things that you don't want around.  You mentioned a rabbit problem (among others).  I had a small cat years ago that would catch and eat rabbits that seemed to be larger than the cat.  It didn't look like reality, but the cat did that regularly and saved my garden from the rabbit onslaught.   I've had cats on my property since I was young.  I live on a farm.  They have helped me so much on my farm and I couldn't imagine not having them around.  

Second, people abandon cats regularly, and it's just a nice thing to do as a human being to take in abandoned cats and let them help you out with your undesirable residents.  Even if  you feed them (I do) they will prefer to eat your rodents.  Both parties win and you're  doing something positive (in a small way) for the world by helping out.

Third, cats are absolutely wonderful to have around.  They have such sweet personalities and they bring so much happiness to the atmosphere at home that you'll most likely wonder why you didn't have them years ago.

Finally, feel free to take a look at my profile picture.  How could you possibly not want to have a cat? :)

I hope you think it over and I hope you "rescue" a cat and wonder who "rescued" who :)

Best wishes
 
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I got a variety of the nosiemaker machines aka sonic repellant stakes off of amazon and if it's making a difference, it's not noticeable.

Also, it seems coincidental that the same weekend I started using the noisemakers, was the same weekend that we had mice in the house. First mice in the house in a year. We were able to trap them and use a 1:1:1 part flour, sugar, baking soda mixture because mice can't burp. the traps and powder mixture each killed 2 mice each. However, we started getting an odor in the stairwell that I believe was a dead mouse (likely died from the powder mixture) that, after 2.5months, is finally starting to subside. Likely it died in the subfloor.

All this to say, I dropped at least $100 on the noisemakers and I'm dissatisfied.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Alexandra Malecki wrote:I got a variety of the nosiemaker machines aka sonic repellant stakes off of amazon and if it's making a difference, it's not noticeable.

Also, it seems coincidental that the same weekend I started using the noisemakers, was the same weekend that we had mice in the house. First mice in the house in a year. We were able to trap them and use a 1:1:1 part flour, sugar, baking soda mixture because mice can't burp. the traps and powder mixture each killed 2 mice each. However, we started getting an odor in the stairwell that I believe was a dead mouse (likely died from the powder mixture) that, after 2.5months, is finally starting to subside. Likely it died in the subfloor.

All this to say, I dropped at least $100 on the noisemakers and I'm dissatisfied.



Good to know! Maybe the obnoxious noise outside made them decide to move inside. So far I’ve trapped at least 15 rodents, mostly voles in the garden. Still considering a cat and my wife is on board now that she’s found mouse poop in her car. But we’ve got chicks hatching now, the garden is pumping out vegetables and I’m replacing a window in the house. And I’m considering taking out a loan to get set up with wood heat before winter because relying on propane is really stressing me out right now. So for now, I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Maybe we will get a cat once some things settle down (yea right) in a month or two. Or next spring…
 
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I live in a very rural area of Mn. No neighbors within one half mile. My neighbors cats from as far as one mile away regularly visit my yard and are unwelcome guests. They instinctively kill whatever small animals they come across even if they have no intention of eating them. I use live traps in my garden, several types of leathal traps for tunneling pests, and either a 22 or a 12 gauge if those methods don't work. The small pests are under control and a fence keeps the deer out of my garden. Several of the deer that enjoy my landscape plants end up in my freezer each fall. They kind of taste like hostas.
 
Rez Zircon
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One other thing about cats and kittens -- most of them don't come knowing how to hunt. They have instincts, but they don't have methods or targets. Mama teaches them what to hunt. So seems to me you could teach targets with a hungry kitten and freshly-dead mice, to show 'em what's tasty. When they're hungry they go nuts for the smell of mice.

And cats can learn targets. I had a young feral (the size of a pony, he couldn't get through the cat door into their warm space) that had surprised a gopher -- I heard this horrible shrieking and went out to look, and here's the cat tentatively poking a paw at a gopher that's sitting up screaming bloody murder at the cat. So I got a stick, smacked the gopher on the head, and threw it up on the barn roof for the crows to eat.

Bit later heard the same racket again. Got a stick and headed out to bean a gopher, and there's the cat trying to get brave enough to overcome the horrible noisemaker. Cat saw me coming with the stick, decided he wasn't being robbed again, grabbed the gopher and ran away with it.

And after that he did nothing but hunt gophers ALL DAY LONG, and completely exterminated them (and we'd had a lot!) everywhere within a half-mile radius of my house.

 
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Have you considered a "ratter" type dog breed instead? We had a doberman at one point who was the best rodent control I have ever seen and i know the small terrier type dogs were bred for that purpose. They can be incredibly effective without some of the myriad issues that other posters have mentioned with outdoor cats.

I don't know the social style of your dog breed but wondering if adding a working dog to the mix might be more successful than a cat if it still serves the same purpose.
 
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Hi Mercy,

Good point.  I once had a neighbor with a herd of Rat Terriers.   We didn’t realize how effective they were until the neighbors moved.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Mercy Pergande wrote:Have you considered a "ratter" type dog breed instead? We had a doberman at one point who was the best rodent control I have ever seen and i know the small terrier type dogs were bred for that purpose. They can be incredibly effective without some of the myriad issues that other posters have mentioned with outdoor cats.

I don't know the social style of your dog breed but wondering if adding a working dog to the mix might be more successful than a cat if it still serves the same purpose.



That is an option. But then I have another dog to take care of. The nice thing about cats is they seem pretty self reliant. Our current dog is friendly for the most part but shes a female and more emotional than I ever knew an animal could be. Shes like a 14 year old human girl and sometimes doesn’t play nice with other females. I also dont know how her and a cat would get along, but I’m confident a cat can and would teach her a quick lesson if she tried to get toothy!
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:Our current dog is friendly for the most part but shes a female and more emotional than I ever knew an animal could be. Shes like a 14 year old human girl and sometimes doesn’t play nice with other females.



[professional dog trainer here]

In that case, a second dog should be an intact male (neutered males are socially female, especially when cut as juveniles), or at least intact long enough to be a confirmed leg-lifter (and socially an adult male). Females very often do not get along with other females (and unlike males, females fight to kill), but will nearly always behave when a male is added to the mix.

 
Brody Ekberg
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Rez Zircon wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:Our current dog is friendly for the most part but shes a female and more emotional than I ever knew an animal could be. Shes like a 14 year old human girl and sometimes doesn’t play nice with other females.



[professional dog trainer here]

In that case, a second dog should be an intact male (neutered males are socially female, especially when cut as juveniles), or at least intact long enough to be a confirmed leg-lifter (and socially an adult male). Females very often do not get along with other females (and unlike males, females fight to kill), but will nearly always behave when a male is added to the mix.



Good to know! She does get along well with my sisters female herding dog but thats the only dog she has much play experience with
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Sometimes you get lucky with a cat. This one was bottle fed. Is't she a good girl?


It's  cottonmouth. Yes, really.


This one was taught to hunt, but won't give the newcommer the time of day. I present the Mighty Squirrel Hunter, at rest.
 
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I wouldn't get one.
We have 2 that just showed up and won’t leave. There’s much better pets to have that give more back in return.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Don Fini wrote:I wouldn't get one.
We have 2 that just showed up and won’t leave. There’s much better pets to have that give more back in return.



I dont want another pet, I want a rodent killer that enjoys its job and needs very little from me
 
Brody Ekberg
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:Sometimes you get lucky with a cat. This one was bottle fed. Is't she a good girl?


It's  cottonmouth. Yes, really.


This one was taught to hunt, but won't give the newcommer the time of day. I present the Mighty Squirrel Hunter, at rest.



A friend of ours is giving away 2 12 week old barncat kittens that were raised around chickens by a mom who was a good mouser. We’re considering getting one but we have 2 week old chicks right now and I’m worried the kitten will go after the chicks.
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:
Good to know! She does get along well with my sisters female herding dog but thats the only dog she has much play experience with



Occasional play is not the same as living in the same space. Dogs that play together now and then might fight to the death if they have to share space full time. And most socially-adult dogs don't actually like other adult dogs much and wish they'd just stay out of their face. (Dog parks only "work" because nearly all were juvenile neuters, therefore are still socially puppies with the puppy desire to suck up to adults.)

Also, it depends on the dominance dynamic. A female that fights with other females is a beta, and while betas will get along with an alpha female (because the alpha is inherently the boss, and therefore never fights, tho may rarely exert discipline on a miscreant), betas will attack lower-ranked betas or "nobodies" just for breathing. This social rank is born, not made; you can't "fix" it, and it can't be reliably predicted in puppies. And if it comes to a fight, the higher-ranked dog always wins.

All normal [intact] males are inherently alpha over all normal females, so even an aggressive female normally will not fight with a male.

So... from what you've said here, you don't want another female dog in your household, but a male should be fine.

 
Trace Oswald
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Brody Ekberg wrote: I also dont know how her and a cat would get along, but I’m confident a cat can and would teach her a quick lesson if she tried to get toothy!
...
We’re considering getting one but we have 2 week old chicks right now and I’m worried the kitten will go after the chicks.



In spite of any and all stories you have heard about the neighborhood cat that terrorizes all the dogs, or the mother cat trouncing dogs while protecting her kittens, the simple fact is that there are plenty of dogs that kill cats for fun.  If your dog really wants to kill the cat, the cat is a goner.  That said, every dog I have had got along really well with my own cats with the exception of one.  That one killed any cat it could.

Your kitten will definitely go after your chicks if it is going to be a good hunter.  I'm dealing with that right now and my kittens would definitely kill my chicks if I let them.  They have been killing mice since they were just 3 or 4 weeks old.  A 12 week old cat will kill the birds for sure.  
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:

Don Fini wrote:I wouldn't get one.
We have 2 that just showed up and won’t leave. There’s much better pets to have that give more back in return.



I dont want another pet, I want a rodent killer that enjoys its job and needs very little from me



Fair enough, I call all animals I don’t eat pets is all.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote: I also dont know how her and a cat would get along, but I’m confident a cat can and would teach her a quick lesson if she tried to get toothy!
...
We’re considering getting one but we have 2 week old chicks right now and I’m worried the kitten will go after the chicks.



In spite of any and all stories you have heard about the neighborhood cat that terrorizes all the dogs, or the mother cat trouncing dogs while protecting her kittens, the simple fact is that there are plenty of dogs that kill cats for fun.  If your dog really wants to kill the cat, the cat is a goner.  That said, every dog I have had got along really well with my own cats with the exception of one.  That one killed any cat it could.

Your kitten will definitely go after your chicks if it is going to be a good hunter.  I'm dealing with that right now and my kittens would definitely kill my chicks if I let them.  They have been killing mice since they were just 3 or 4 weeks old.  A 12 week old cat will kill the birds for sure.  



Im hoping it might work out. The chicks are about halfway feathered now and I’m starting to get them outside a bit every day. The cats will be spending their first 2-4 weeks in a shed before being set loose on the property, so hopefully by that time the chicks will be feathered out and probably twice as big. Plus they’re fenced in, although its only 4’ plastic snow fencing so a cat could get under if it wanted to.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Update:

About 3 weeks ago we adopted a couple 5 month old outdoor kittens from a friend. They were in-tact brothers. They had been living under a porch with their mama eating whatever she caught for them and whatever raw food scraps the owners gave to them. No dry or cooked foods at all. So, we brought them home and immediately continued on feeding them things like (cooked) deer liver, raw chicken scraps and whole dead squirrels from the live trap (dog killed them before we gave to the kittens).

The kittens were locked in a shed 24/7 because they weren’t neutered yet and we didnt trust our dog with them yet. All was great until i noticed on a Tuesday and Wednesday they were pooping in random places instead of the litter box. The litter box was soiled so I thought maybe they just didn’t want to use it. So I cleaned it and didnt think much of it. Their diet was 100% grey squirrels Monday-Wednesday. Thursday I gave them raw chicken wings and scraps (same stuff I’d been feeding before the squirrels). Friday morning I found one unresponsive and barely alive curled up in the litter box. There was shit and puke everywhere. The other was sick but still mobile and alert. Rushed them to the vet. The first started seizing, foaming at the mouth and wasn’t responding to anti seizure meds so they euthanized it. The second has since made a full recovery. The vet suspects poisoning of sorts but we didnt run tests or do bloodwork so dont know for sure.

Since they had eaten 3 entire grey squirrels in 4 days (everything but the feet, femurs and skin) i wondered if a squirrel had gotten into rat poison. Called all the neighbors and everyone said they never use poison. Antifreeze is a possibility and we’ll never be able to rule that out. The other thought I had is mycotoxins from the squirrels stomachs. The squirrels were definitely eating moldy sunflower seeds from our compost pile and the cats definitely ate the squirrels stomachs. Other thoughts I had are deficiencies or imbalances in nutrition due to a sort of willy-nilly diet. Or salmonella poisoning although their symptoms didnt really match. Could also be a different bacterial poisoning or even a virus.

Since that incident, the surviving kitten no longer seems interested in raw chicken. Ive tried necks, combs, fat and organs and he isn’t interested although before the incident he was all over the stuff. He ate a red squirrel the other day and didn’t hesitate a second with that.

What are your opinions and thoughts about what could have gone wrong and why he isn’t interested in the chicken any more? Im wondering if since he puked up chicken he doesn’t want it, or if he knows it is contaminated with bacteria.

Also, do you feed your barn cats raw, and if so, what do you feed and have you had issues?

Im considering cooking the hell out of these raw chicken scraps and grinding it all to see if he will eat it that way. Thought I had a bunch of free cat food here but dont want to give him salmonella or force him to eat it. Im assuming a thorough cooking would kill bacteria.
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:Update:

About 3 weeks ago we adopted a couple 5 month old outdoor kittens from a friend. They were in-tact brothers. They had been living under a porch with their mama eating whatever she caught for them and whatever raw food scraps the owners gave to them. No dry or cooked foods at all. So, we brought them home and immediately continued on feeding them things like (cooked) deer liver, raw chicken scraps and whole dead squirrels from the live trap (dog killed them before we gave to the kittens).

The kittens were locked in a shed 24/7 because they weren’t neutered yet and we didnt trust our dog with them yet. All was great until i noticed on a Tuesday and Wednesday they were pooping in random places instead of the litter box. The litter box was soiled so I thought maybe they just didn’t want to use it. So I cleaned it and didnt think much of it. Their diet was 100% grey squirrels Monday-Wednesday. Thursday I gave them raw chicken wings and scraps (same stuff I’d been feeding before the squirrels). Friday morning I found one unresponsive and barely alive curled up in the litter box. There was shit and puke everywhere. The other was sick but still mobile and alert. Rushed them to the vet. The first started seizing, foaming at the mouth and wasn’t responding to anti seizure meds so they euthanized it. The second has since made a full recovery. The vet suspects poisoning of sorts but we didnt run tests or do bloodwork so dont know for sure.

Since they had eaten 3 entire grey squirrels in 4 days (everything but the feet, femurs and skin) i wondered if a squirrel had gotten into rat poison. Called all the neighbors and everyone said they never use poison. Antifreeze is a possibility and we’ll never be able to rule that out. The other thought I had is mycotoxins from the squirrels stomachs. The squirrels were definitely eating moldy sunflower seeds from our compost pile and the cats definitely ate the squirrels stomachs. Other thoughts I had are deficiencies or imbalances in nutrition due to a sort of willy-nilly diet. Or salmonella poisoning although their symptoms didnt really match. Could also be a different bacterial poisoning or even a virus.

Since that incident, the surviving kitten no longer seems interested in raw chicken. Ive tried necks, combs, fat and organs and he isn’t interested although before the incident he was all over the stuff. He ate a red squirrel the other day and didn’t hesitate a second with that.

What are your opinions and thoughts about what could have gone wrong and why he isn’t interested in the chicken any more? Im wondering if since he puked up chicken he doesn’t want it, or if he knows it is contaminated with bacteria.

Also, do you feed your barn cats raw, and if so, what do you feed and have you had issues?

Im considering cooking the hell out of these raw chicken scraps and grinding it all to see if he will eat it that way. Thought I had a bunch of free cat food here but dont want to give him salmonella or force him to eat it. Im assuming a thorough cooking would kill bacteria.



Animals are generally pretty smart about these things.  If the cat won't eat the chicken, there is likely something wrong with it.
 
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Animals are generally pretty smart about these things.  If the cat won't eat the chicken, there is likely something wrong with it.



Well, I cooked the chicken scraps and now he’s eating them. Maybe I killed off some bad bacteria that was on it.
 
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You have so much advice here! I'd hate to add any confusion with more, and I hope you have made your mind up on what you want to do....
All that said, in my experience, cats are awesome. I JUST saw one of mine eat catch and eat a mouse WHOLE yesterday. 20 seconds flat. It was a marvel to watch. Now, this cat is 2nd generation barn cat, but I've had a lot of different cats in my day, and wherever I got them from, they ALL had a hunting instinct. They really are doing a good job, and yes, I am feeding my cats, too. But our mice population is less because of them. I highly recommend them. One even caught a rabbit this year.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Rachel Elijah wrote:You have so much advice here! I'd hate to add any confusion with more, and I hope you have made your mind up on what you want to do....
All that said, in my experience, cats are awesome. I JUST saw one of mine eat catch and eat a mouse WHOLE yesterday. 20 seconds flat. It was a marvel to watch. Now, this cat is 2nd generation barn cat, but I've had a lot of different cats in my day, and wherever I got them from, they ALL had a hunting instinct. They really are doing a good job, and yes, I am feeding my cats, too. But our mice population is less because of them. I highly recommend them. One even caught a rabbit this year.



So far we’re super happy with him. He’s ridiculously loving and cuddly but also a natural hunter. I haven’t seen him catch anything yet but have seen him hunting several times and found a red squirrel tail in his shed once so I know he got one.

Funny that my cat killed and ate a squirrel on his own and yours killed a rabbit. I had live trapped some grey squirrels weeks ago and asked Facebook if releasing the squirrel live in the shed for the cats (his brother was still alive then) to kill would be a bad idea. Unanimously I was told it would be too big for them and cats dont eat squirrels anyway. So, I let the dog chomp the squirrel and gave it freshly killed to the cats… 2 hours later and an entire grey squirrel had been reduced to feet, tail, femurs and some fur. They did this to 3 in one week! And people told me “why would a cat want a dead squirrel, they’re predators” … some people make me wonder.
 
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