Acquired: Bred cat myself,
Other (stray, given cat by friend etc.),
Rescue / shelter organization
Posted Mar 02, 2015
Often barn cats are practically feral, and many people do not feed them, claiming they make more motivated hunters if they are hungry. Ours were properly socialized and well-fed so they had the energy to be good hunters and keep our barns pest-free.
Here are a few thoughts on the shorthairs we adopted or which were born on our farm.
The cats are only as good as their owners. If they are not given attention, they will not be friendly kitties. If they aren't gently and patiently handled, they won't enjoy handling. Most people say, "So what?! They're just mousers." Those mousers are important members of the farmyard team and deserve proper treatment. They need to be fed and vetted to keep the rest of the barnyard critters healthy. Ideally, they would also be neutered to make Bob Parker happy and help control the pet population. Finally, they are part of the farm and can add joy to the environment, so why not raise them right and make them friendly and happy!
If properly socialized and cared for, barn cats are excellent companions when they are not on the prowl. They would follow us around as we did chores or played outside. They were low maintenance and always groomed themselves nicely. During the winter they would lie on the backs of the horses to keep warm. They each chose an animal to bond with, some hugging horse noses, others following sheep, and some snuggling up to each other. None of them loved the farm dogs, but they all tolerated or ignored each other just fine.
When a farm animal was sick and someone spent the night in the barn, the cats would pile on top of the person and keep her warm. I say "her" because I always drew that straw. On late nights when a trip to the barn was necessary, the cats always kept me company and helped scare the boogie man away.
Shorthairs as barn cats are low maintenance, but do require socializing, feeding, and vetting like any other animal. They do not need litter training, since this trait comes naturally, and they will choose a soft spot in the farmyard to take care of their dirty business. They do need warm places to stay in the winter, which in our case was the cozy hay mow enhanced with blankets, as well as makeshift sunrooms Grandpa would set up on the farm. They were quite cozy.
All our shorthairs were pleasant and important parts of the farmyard team. I highly recommend them!