Barn Cats Are Proven Assets on the Farm
Learn all you can about barn cats, your best rodent-reduction system on the farm.
Cats always find the highest point to perch, perhaps the top of the rail fence.
Are you smitten with kittens? Mad about moggies and their mouseability? Feverish for feline friskiness and field skills on your farm? Then pounce on a chair, chap, and we’ll chat about cats.
True to their reputation, cats have, as a species, always been a bit standoffish. Though felines and humans have interacted for about 9,500 years, cats didn’t “officially” sit at our hearth until some 4,500 years ago. Dogs, cows, horses, goats, sheep, chickens and horses were domesticated long before the cat, which made Kitty the last animal to take the plunge – if, indeed, you can ever domesticate a cat.
Geneticists believe that all small “house” cats, including those in your barn, descended from five wild queens (the word for a female cat, also a “molly”) that lived in the Middle East some 10,000 years ago. All kitties considered, though, a cat is a cat is a cat – no matter how big or small – because all members of Felis catus (the Latin redundancy that means “cat cat”) share the same basic physical characteristics. You know, for instance, that a tiger and your mouser are both cats, despite their differences.
But that’s not to say that all cats are alike, obviously. If you so desire, you can have a meowler to match your decorating scheme: tri-color, one color; some even come in blue. You can get one with long hair, short hair, or no hair. You can boast of national pride by having a Scottish Fold, a Japanese Bobtail, a Havana Brown, a British Shorthair, a German Rex, a Turkish Angora, an American Curl, or a Cat in the Hat if you want – although that last one might get you sent back to kindergarten.
Chances are, though, you share your home or barn with a plain old garden-variety cat, and that’s a good thing. Most cats love to catch mice, and quite a few have been known to snag rats bigger than the cat itself, if nothing but for the fun of it. One British champion reportedly killed more than 20,000 rodents in his lifetime. Another cat caught and killed up to six rats a day for years. A clowder (the term for a group of cats) can, in fact, tamp down a barn’s rodent population quite handily.