Friday, April 5, 2013

Getting their room ready

At the end of Tuesday's post, I mentioned that the solution to my packrat problem might be a barn cat or two. One of the very first comments to come in was from long-time blog buddy June, who said, "Any shelter cat(s) who got out of jail to come live in your barn would be grateful and fulfilled, whether they lived ten years or one." June, you have no idea how much that comment meant to me.

Then a whole bunch of you chimed in with similar thoughts, and that was enough encouragement to push me right over the edge from "thinking about" to "looking for" a couple of barn cats.

First stop, Craig's List. What do I find? This ad:
I spoke to the cat rescue lady at length. She explained that the average life expectancy of a feral barn cat was one to three years, compared to no life expectancy for a feral cat in one of the shelters who doesn't get re-homed. We talked about my barn set-up and how best to acclimate them so that they would stick around. We talked about where we would meet on Saturday so she could deliver my pair of cats.

I'm going into this with my eyes wide open. I am not adopting two cats who will be like Deets – they will be afraid of people, they will not be affectionate, they will not become internet celebrities. I (and you) will not get attached to them. Yeah, right. But they will control the pest population, if I can get them to stick around.

So I've been busy getting ready for their arrival.


They will spend their first month in the feed room. The adopt-a-barn-cat folks recommend four full weeks of confinement, with plenty of good food, water, and comfort so that they will learn this is the safe place to which they can return once they are allowed to roam. Since I see a mouse or two every time I open the feed room door these days, I'm thinking my new barn cats will have plenty to do and be content without me having to set up a tv in there.

The challenge will be to change my habits so that they can't escape the confines of the feed room for their first month on the ranch. I'm not taking any chances...


The adopt-a-barn-cat lady assures me they will hide every time they hear me coming.



No more leaving the door open while I'm busy inside.




Lucy and the boys are not the least bit happy about the pending arrivals,
as snatching hay off the feed room floor while I prepare their meals is a favorite activity.


Anyway, the cats are due to arrive late Saturday afternoon. 
I don't expect I'll get any pictures to show you because they'll be hiding behind the hay bales.
Just remember – if we do get to see them, we're not allowed to get attached. Under any circumstances. Ever. 
Keep reminding me of that, ok?


57 comments:

  1. Ok well I have officially read every single one of your posts. Please, I really do have my own life...I swear!

    I'm so happy your getting new barn kitties! Even if they are out of sight, your still providing them with a safe place, food and water, which, like the woman said, is better than if they were to live a short life confined in a shelter! Your doing a great thing!

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  2. Just popped in before I set out on my trek from MN to NM. Your blog feels like a must-do with my morning coffee. What a wonderful new life awaits your new cats. Good luck to you and your entire family of critters.

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  3. Hurray for you taking that giant step, but a gal has got to do what she has to do when varmints start invading your territory.

    No getting attached ... these are simply ranch hands moving in to do their job, right?

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  4. Not getting attached. Yeah, right. I find the older I become, the more sentimental I become--I tear up when I see a dead cat by the road now. Gah! But then again, so does my husband. Boy are we a pair. ;)

    Looking forward to the future cats/Smooch/donkeys adjustment blogs.

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  5. Oh, I am SO HAPPY that I inspired you to get a couple of kitties! These are my predictions:
    They won't be "feral" for long
    We all will get attached
    Everybody's lives will be improved for however long you and we have their company

    Kismet.
    Y'gotta love it.

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  6. Barn cat rescue programs are awesome. That thing about not getting attached might or might not work out, good luck with that. I volunteer at my local shelter cleaning cat cages, and trying not to get attached. So far, have brought only one home. I just NEED a cat, but then I don't have a dog, pig, horse, or Lucy and the boys to keep me company. OH, there is my husband of 41 years.
    Mary Anne in Cosby TN (Smoky Mountains)

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  7. Sounds like a plan!! :)

    Best intentions aside, we would like some mug-shots and some vital statistics ;) .... and then a naming contest?

    Hmmmmm-- what will Smooch think? (two new smells :o

    M in NC

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  8. Maybe you should put up a sign on the door of the feedshack:
    I will NOT love these creatures. Ever!

    We know you, Carson, and we'll look forward to the new additions. Will there be a naming-contest? (Or are you thinking: I am NOT naming them, as I will NOT love them)?
    You're heart is big enough. And I know one thing for sure: they WILL love you!

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  9. Good for you! Lucky, lucky cats! I hope it all goes well!

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  10. I'm sorry my initial comment was Oh no don't get barn cats! because I'm still thinking of Deets too much. I read this post very carefully and I understand your reasonning. I suppose you're right 1 to 3 years is better than no life at all. As for not getting attached...I couldn't do it, honestly, but I'll try and remind you. You're so strong you can probably manage it. So, thanks for saving 2 cats!!!

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  11. Impossible task to never get attached to cats. They make you love them. It's just the way it is.
    Congrats, Carson.
    They will be happy at your place.

    Best always,

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  12. fantastic program and just perfect for your needs, ha ha ho ho he he on not getting attached.....

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  13. Anne Boleyn4/5/13, 6:13 AM

    I think this is a very good idea. I also am sort of a wreck, as I'm sure you are.
    We must be brave and remember what a good thing this is.

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  14. Of course you know it's impossible...to not get attached!!

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  15. Yea! Barn kitties. Yep, nooo attachments. I wish there was a sarcasm font.

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  16. ok WE will NOT get attched eh! Now what about a kitty for the house........;p

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  17. Diane from NC4/5/13, 6:39 AM

    Good for you Carson. We will not get attached. We will not get attached..........

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  18. good luck with that girlfriend LOL those cats will steal your heart at first sight i predict :) Jeanne in SC

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  19. Yeah. Good luck with that: not getting attached! Our "feral" cat will never be really affectionate, and is always fearful of strangers -- and us (and even you), sometimes! But he still sleeps in our bathroom closet and is amazingly friendly at feeding time!

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  20. Congratulations. I think it will be of great benefit for all parties involved.
    I'd vote names to be The Ghost and the Darkness (please tell me you've seen the movie). They could be the lions and the rats could be the humans. Of course, there'd be no Val Kilmer at the end to kill them. We'll just say that we walked out near the end of the movie to visit the ladies room and didn't know how it ended. :)

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  21. What are their names? They have to have names-how else will the crew be able to tell them apart? I can't wait to see the photos. Please take at least 20 pics of the drop off and exchange and more when they go into hiding. Is the flash working? I want the best pic possible.

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  22. Again, I'm with June. They won't be feral for long. And no matte their lifespan , they'll live on like Deets on your blog and we will all love them.

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  23. Yeah...tell the part about not getting attached to my barn cats. They take up more room on the bed than I do...all 7 of them...no wonder I have mice.

    Congrats on the adoptions, can't wait for the pictures.

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  24. I'm already attached, and I haven't even seen their beautiful faces yet...much less their names. Even if you don't name them, you know we all will conjure up names for them...just sayin'!

    I strongly believe in animal rescue. Whether wild or domestic, I believe the animals know they have been given a second chance. I've seen it first hand, multiple times. You can feel their gratitude no matter what they are, are where they came from. Good for you, and I know they will feel like they've checked into the Ritz once they get their travel nerves calmed down. Can't wait to meet them...:)

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  25. Congratulations to the new 7MSN barn kittys. And good for you.

    I'm thrilled that you've opened up your barn to two needful things. It is wonderful for you and the cats....the vermin not so much.
    As to non attachment dreams....uh, well "okay if you say so".

    There was a feral momma kitty who had two kittens (probably the only two to survive) at a shop where I worked. We fed them, they kept the mice at bay. They were never to be named. But when the shop owner sold the building, we rehomed Momma Pearl, Jade and Onyx to a lovely ranch near Mountainair. The jewels of the shop found a new purpose. Oma Linda

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  26. My horse trainer has barn cats and they do a great job, some more than others. Some like to be around people, others just want to be left alone. Some have been there a long time, others don't stick around. But they serve a purpose and that's a good thing. And it's way better than the alternative of being stuck in a shelter to die.

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  27. Sure. Don't allow you to get attached. Uh-huh. Make room among your header pictures. We all want to see pictures, even if they are butt shots as they head for the back sides of the hay bales.

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  28. It seems to me as though feral cats are not that easy to get chummy with, but it seems lots of folks here have done just that.

    Good luck, Carson, and I hope it all works out very well. I do agree that one to three is better than life in a shelter or having life ended in a shelter. Good decision!

    Jo

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  29. Sorry, I refuse to limit my self to not getting attached to any animal. Feral or not. That is the thing with animals, they move in and out of our lives...just like people. Some get close to us, some don't but they all have an effect on us and they all have their little part to give. Some we are content to enjoy from afar, some become family, but eventually they all leave us (or we leave them). The thing that never changes is that we are better people for having let them into our lives, for how ever long that time is.

    That was the long version of "You are not the boss of me, I will get attached if I wanna!" lol

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  30. Michelle from BC4/5/13, 8:16 AM

    Congrats on saving 2 lives, I'm sure they will repay you in so many ways. My concern is the hole in the door ( the I never getting locked in there again hole ). It looks small but cats are amazing at squishing their bodies through tiny spaces.....just a thought?

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  31. Great decisions - thank you for going with a responsible rescue (but then, what else would I expect from 7MSN?) - barn cat programs like this really rock! Good for the kitties, good for the barn owner, not so good for the rodents - but much better than a painful death by poisoning.

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  32. Deets was an enigma. And a star. Using the photo of him walking the fence as desktop for a few days.

    Happy that you are taking this brave step forward and rescuing barn cats. They may stick around just fine once they learn they are safe and fed.

    House cats will follow in their own time.

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  33. I look forward to the kitty introductions....I just hope they are not related to my Screech!
    http://www.mrscravitz.blogspot.com/2011/11/mouse-collector.html

    Yes, that would not be good! Teehee!

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  34. I brought home a feral Siamese in a box used for chicks (from our local hay supply store). They used gloves to give the kitten to me. I pointed to this one and they gave me the one closest to the cage door.

    She hide by the toilet for days.

    Ran from any noise.

    Was the absolute love of my life.

    That cat loved with her whole body.

    Some ferals do nothing but hiss.

    Others become friendly.

    Call their names. Talk to them. Tell them you love them even when they hiss.

    Give them a good place to sleep in a hidden place. They have to feel safe.

    You are doing a wonderful thing.

    Hope it goes well for them and you.

    xo,
    JC

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  35. Carol in N. Colorado4/5/13, 9:11 AM

    What a great program? I bet after a short time, the cats won't run from you as much as you think as they will get use to having a human around. I can't wait to get a glimpse of the new members to the ranch.

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  36. I have been taking care of feral cats for 10 years. Once upon a time and long, long ago, I had a two car garage. I now have a 1 car garage because the other half has been converted to the "cat house." I started out with a colony of 8 and I'm down to 6. They are all spayed/neutered and that was done by a trap/neuter/return program. I have a ton of woods behind my house, so they are out during the day and come back at night. They can live a long time when they are well cared for!

    I am sooooo happy you are doing this and we will all be attached soon, no doubt.

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  37. Wanna bet Carson doesn't charm the cats immediately and get lots of photos? Miranda and Blake are suggested names for the pusses.

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  38. What a great idea. The kitties will have a wonderful place to live out the rest of their lives, no matter how long.

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  39. A beautiful brindle cat named Momma Kittie came into our lives about 8 years ago. We fed her on our door step. Then about 6 years ago, we left the door open and in she came.She continued to come in and out. Several months later, she came thru the door with one of her kittens. Momma Kittie is getting up there in years. She spends more time indoors then out, giving us the evil stink eye, and don't even think about petting her. The last three litters of kittens she's had have been in the house. We've found good homes for all of them. All of her off spring are gentle wonderful kats. The only time she goes outside now is for a date. I wouldn't have it any other way. GOOD LUCK on your ferel cats.

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  40. How big is that hole in the door? Big enough to be an escape route?

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  41. I agree with Pat. Ranch hands with a job to do. Very lucky to end up at the 7MSN.
    Love the notes you left for Lucy. :)

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  42. Hooray for barn kitties! I am so very, very glad you are going to provide a good home for them. Our little kitty lived in a stall for a month. I hated that she was 'confined' but I knew it was important for her to learn that was home. And yes, it is hard to stay aloof.. well, make that impossible. But, whatever time they have at your place, taking care of critters, getting a meal and being wanted is preferable to the other options. BTW, our 'wild' kitty is quite friendly now!

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  43. My mother refuses to allow any more animals in the house because "they die." I hate to remind her that she is 90 and it is more likely that she will go first. Yes it is painful when they die, but that is a very important part of life---learning to enjoy every second because it changes so frequently.

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  44. We will NOT get attached! You will NOT get attached! Yeah, right. My Emma, the beautiful Calico Queen, was an alley cat in NYC when found and rescued by a young couple who made saving animals their mission. They moved to Georgia with her and some others, and when I was ready for a cat I picked her out of the lot. No, she wasn't a barn cat, but an alley cat is pretty close! She lived under my bed for several days. That was 5 1/2 years ago, and now she climbs all over me. And walks all over me. I hate to think what her life might have been like had she been left in that alley.

    Nancy in Iowa

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  45. Oh, and there's my cousin, John, who belongs to an association that rescues feral cats in NY state. He builds little "cat houses" and places them in the woods and other wild areas so feral cats will have shelter.

    Nancy

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  46. congratulations! the critter family will feel more complete. I am sure you and them will find the right balance in your life. dont worry. I just think these two living critters will need a name though as you always did with each of them before.

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  47. Love the door. Good luck with the cats. You'll need it.

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  48. jone in AZ4/5/13, 3:01 PM

    I love your reminders, on masking tape. (And I still chuckle when I see the hand-sized hole in the door, right next to the latch.) You've thought this all through and gotten good advice. I wonder what those kitties are going to think when Alan lets loose with a bray?

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  49. Yay for adopting ferals!! We adopted a couple of groups 5 years ago through the Alley Cat Rescue in Denver. We ended up locking them in the barn for 6 weeks before we opened things up and they have a window that they can jump in and out of (so no worries about a coyote following them in). They've done a marvelous job at keeping our mouse population in check. Being true ferals, none of them have tamed down, but they don't hiss at us anymore. One tip that I learned during our adoption was to feed them once a day in the evening. That way they get used to coming in for the night, where it's safer. Oh I'm so happy for you, and even happier for those two kitties that are being given the gift of life!

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  50. What? No pictures? That's a deal breaker. Look, you've posted pictures of turtles and snakes and pack rats and tarantulas. You aren't really going to deny us the sight of a couple barn kitties?

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  51. Oh, I'm so excited for you! I've taken in stray cats my whole life and have been rewarded with some WONDERFUL cats...some stayed, a few moved on. My current cats include a 16 year old white male (Loki), an unknown age gray cat (Mr. Gray), and my little Daisy, who just departed this earth a couple of weeks ago. SHE was my hunter-killer and kept our yard free of varmits for 15 years.

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  52. I had planned on commenting the exact same thing. Given the choice of a cage vs. total freedom (albeit a dangerous life), I think any semi-feral or feral cat would not hesitate to choose your place.
    (And maybe we will get a photo or two at some point. :))

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  53. When I had to put my dog "to sleep", I swore I would never get another animal. It was too painful. I now have two cats that found me. One was only four weeks old and under my truck at the car dealers. The other followed me home from a walk. I'm very thankful they are in my life.

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  54. Stellar choice. I would like to think it was my comment that inspired your decision...so I will think that!

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  55. Lol I feel better. I was feeling really guilty for feeling I was gonna get attached to those cats in spite of your orders. Then I discovered a whole community felt the same. Never will 2 feral cats have been this wanted and expected! Welcome kitties!!!

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  56. Aww, this is such great news! Soooo, it is Saturday night and I am totally wondering how your little feral babies are doing!?! I have a little feral girl named Mowgli at my work that started out VERY feral and over time, after many feedings later, learned to trust me and a co-worker. One day, after eating, she came over and rubbed on my legs and even followed me to my car and hopped on in! YAY! We actually thought she was a he (obviously I missed anatomy class that day-HA!) and were finally clued in when she showed up HUGE-in the belly region. Soo, although I tried to catch her and put her in a box, we finally caught her in a live trap. The vet fixed her and now she is back at "home" not too much worse for the wear. We adore her and are happy for her being as tamed as we might ever expect. Blessings to you, my friend!

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