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Feral cats

I live in a rural area with just a couple of other barns nearby, one of which has sheep and chickens/ducks. I have chickens which are in a run but I allow to roam free as much as I can while I am there.

Unfortunately I have mice and rats around my chicken run and rabbits in the garden. It occurred to me that getting a couple of feral cats may be a good idea but would that cause a problem to the chickens and also to the lambs next door when they are born?



  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,949

    I've never heard of farm cats (or ferral) harming lambs and a flock of chickens will put a cat quite firmly in its place!

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,262

    My brother in law has a cat as well as chickens. they agree to ignore each other.  I am assuming you will be feeding said feral cats. Cats are better at catching mice when they are fed.

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,439

    Have had cats and chickens and they are fine together.  Cats will not harm lambs.

    But why feral cats?....not really a great idea.  You will need to provide some food for them.  We farmed for years and had farm cats.  They were very friendly and definitely earned their keep.  If I were you I would get a couple of older kittens in the spring or early summer.  You'll need to feed them well and look after them until they can hunt themselves; then you will need to supplement this depending on how much they catch.  They will need shelter but if you've a barn with straw, that will probably be cosy enough for them. 

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • LynLyn Posts: 22,867

    You will also need to de flea and worm regularly, rats have fleas and the cats will get tape worms. 

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Have you got a rat-proof feeder for the chickens? Reducing food supply is the best rodent control.

  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,214

    We have three good hunting cats, but even so when we had hens we still got the occasional rat. Our one rat hunting cat (sadly gone now) cost us a fortune in treatment for abscesses which he got from rat bites.

    The hens soon put them in their place. And the best mousers we ever had were the hens themselves.

    As said making sure the hen food is not accessible to rodents is the best control.

  • Yes I have two of those feeders the hens have to step on to get at the food. Last weekend one of the feeders would not open, I realised something was blocking  the food shield. Managed to get it open and found a dead rat inside the container. It had obviously managed to push its way in but then was trapped inside.

    I suggested feral cats because SWMBO wont have them inside the house, yes I would set up somewhere in one of the sheds for them to live and feed and water them but they would not be allowed in the house.

  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601

    Many cat rescue sites, including the RSPCA are eager to find homes for feral cats which have been caught, neutered,  wormed and so on, but are not suited to indoor life and are not pet material. They need a clean, warm shelter, food and general care but they do not move into your house - though I believe some are willing to try! They can live out their lives as they choose and will scare away much vermin as they do so. It's very important that any feral cats that just turn up are neutered and these societies will advise and often pay for this to be done. They will catch the little beggars for you, too.

  • LynLyn Posts: 22,867

    My cat, he’s 10 now, has never tackled a rat, mice are his thing, even then, he doesn’t catch many, and never touches the birds even though he sits by the feeders watching them. 

    He may have done if I’d shut him out for the nights, but I like him in before we go to bed. 

    He‘s petrified of the blackbirds they swoop right down on him and he cowers on the ground. 

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • I rehomed two semi-feral cats from the RSPCA some years ago.   They lived in the garage/shed and I had two cat flaps fitted before the cats arrived.  I was advised to keep them inside for a few weeks in order for them to get to know me a bit before allowing them access to the outside. I would spend a little while in the shed several times a day, "talking" to them when putting food down  & dealing with their litter tray.  I didn't actually see them for about three weeks to begin with because  whenever they heard me open the door they would go and hide amongst all the stuff in the shed.  One day I happened to look up and saw them both sitting on the rafters &  gazing down at me - they were beginning to get confident enough not to worry too much.  A couple of weeks later they were on the floor waiting to be fed and eventually I was able to touch them,  Took a while, and in the meantime a friend made an outdoor cage for them, which we fitted outside one of the cat flaps.  This enabled them to see the outside and after another week or so - on a fine day - I removed the cage and waited until they came out and saw me there.  They went exploring for a while and then came back to be fed.

    They became very friendly towards me in the end, but were still very wary of other people.  They did a very good job ref dealing with various rodents etc and - more useful for me - they acted as a great rabbit deterrent too, as my garden was over-run with wild rabbits which were causing a great deal of damage to plants and the lawned areas.   Since they died (natural causes for one and the other was run over and killed on  the main road) the rabbits have taken over again - though I'm hopeful that things might change since the feral cats from the smallholding nearby have arrived in the shed now!

    Last edited: 11 December 2017 15:24:29

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