HOW TO ACCLIMATE YOUR BARN CAT
Myth: "Barn Cats can live off mice, you don't have to feed them or they get lazy."
FALSE! Barn cats still need food, water and shelter from weather and predators in order to stay around. They cannot survive off minimal resources and will still hunt mice when fed.
When you choose to acquire a barn cat, you are choosing a lifetime commitment. Cats can live up to 18 years while the average lifespan for outdoor cats is lower, they can still live an upwards of 10 years. When choosing your new barn cat, you want to make sure this cat is over 6 months of age, has outdoor experience, has it's claws, spayed/neutered and vaccinated. Kittens have a very low survival rate and deserve a chance at an indoor home. Unsocialized or feral adult cats come with hunting experience - after all they did survive this long and that's what you want. You can contact your local cat rescues or city shelters to save an unsocialized cat that would otherwise be euthanized because they are deemed "unadoptable". Sometimes they come around and show you their gratitude for saving their life.
Before you bring home a barn cat, you want to make sure you have adequate shelter against weather and predators. Types of shelter are: a shop, shed, tack room, barn or goat pen. A doghouse would not be considered adequate as they are prone to flooding and the cat could be cornered by predators. Cats prefer to stay dry and clean so they need a way to comfortably take cover from harsh weather. Adding platforms in the loft areas for the cats to comfortably walk and lay on will also keep them happy.
Home Sweet Home
Barn Cats require a 3-week acclimation process where they are contained in an escape-proof area while they acclimate to their new homes. During those 3 weeks they will learn the sounds and smells of their new home while also learning they will be provided food and water - don't forget a litter box during this time. Remember, cats stay where there are resources. If you do not have an escape-proof area, we highly recommend two XL dog crates per two to three cats depending on size of cats. You can watch our video HERE on how to set up the acclimation kennels. Cats also do well with friends as they are typically residing in colonies - this increases the success rate so we recommend a minimum of two cats.
Once the 3-week acclimation process is done, you want to simply open the door to the kennels and allow the cats to come and go on their own - do not shake them out as this is very traumatizing. Some feel completely comfortable being in their kennels and will sleep in them at night and some will never go back in unless its to eat. In the next week or two you can take away the kennels as well as the litter box but leave the food and water. If you notice the food is being eaten but never see the elusive cats, you can set up a trail cam or live wifi camera on the food bowl to see when they are coming to eat.
If you have any more questions on adopting or acclimating barn cats, feel free to contact us.