Barn Cats and Health Risks Associated With Eliminating Rodents

Jon Geller, D.V.M. discusses barn cats and health risks associated with their job of eliminating rodents from the homestead, including information on de-worming, vaccinations, feline leukemia and spaying and neutering cats.

| September/October 2006

  • Claws are essential so barn cats can fight off predators and catch prey. A cat with a fence to scratch is in kitty heaven.
    Claws are essential so barn cats can fight off predators and catch prey. A cat with a fence to scratch is in kitty heaven.
    PHOTO: GRIT MAGAZINE STAFF
  • Cat peeking
    Cat peeking.
    GRIT MAGAZINE STAFF
  • Cats and chickens often co-exist peacefully on the family farm – an easier task when the bird is bigger than the cat.
    Cats and chickens often co-exist peacefully on the family farm – an easier task when the bird is bigger than the cat.
    GRIT MAGAZINE STAFF
  • A bucket full of kittens couldn't be cuter, and when they grow up they will be your fiercest allies in keeping your barn rodent-free.
    A bucket full of kittens couldn't be cuter, and when they grow up they will be your fiercest allies in keeping your barn rodent-free.
    GRIT MAGAZINE STAFF
  • In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens. That adds up to a lot of animals, so please spay or neuter your pets, even the feral barn cats.
    In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens. That adds up to a lot of animals, so please spay or neuter your pets, even the feral barn cats.
    GRIT MAGAZINE STAFF

  • Claws are essential so barn cats can fight off predators and catch prey. A cat with a fence to scratch is in kitty heaven.
  • Cat peeking
  • Cats and chickens often co-exist peacefully on the family farm – an easier task when the bird is bigger than the cat.
  • A bucket full of kittens couldn't be cuter, and when they grow up they will be your fiercest allies in keeping your barn rodent-free.
  • In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 kittens. That adds up to a lot of animals, so please spay or neuter your pets, even the feral barn cats.

Learn about barn cats and health risks associated with their prowling and eliminating critters from the homestead. 

Rodents will wreak havoc in barns. Barn cats can help. Rodents destroy insulation, electrical wiring, bedding and leather, and contaminate feed supplies. They can harbor tapeworms and other parasites that can infect other animals that inhabit the barn. Hantavirus, a serious, potentially life-threatening disease present in some deer mice droppings, can infect humans who inhale the airborne virus when sweeping or cleaning up droppings.

Proactive farmers will want to eradicate rodents from the barn. Rat poisons, typically made of anticoagulant that causes a delayed bleeding response, or a newer generation neurotoxin, are widely used to kill rodents. The problem is, other animals also love the taste of these poisons.

Enter the barn cat, stage (or stall) left.



Cats will hunt and kill mice, and occasionally eat them.  Many of the squirming little parasites that live in rodents will now take residency in this new host. In their role as hunter and protector of the barn, these cats are susceptible to some serious health risks. Outdoor cats typically live less than half as long as indoor cats. Barn cat owners are charged with providing their feline friends with the latest in preventive health care. The old farming adage holds: Take care of your animals and they will take care of you.

Following is most everything you'll want to know about barn cats and health risks and caring for your barn cat.

coyotewaits
9/19/2010 10:06:33 AM

We can't keep cats on the ranch because of the coyotes. How can you protect outdoor cats from coyotes?


ShelterMeInc
8/11/2009 7:25:00 PM

This is really superb advice. Our animal rescue organization, Shelter Me, Inc. has had very good experiences placing barn cats that were otherwise unadoptable. We recently produced and posted a "How to acclimate barn cats" video that features before-and-after placements in really lovely barns across New England. http://www.sheltermeinc.org/wordpress/index.php See what you think: It is a five-step how to do it...






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