Are you curious about the best barn cats?
Often, keeping rodents down is an ongoing battle, and a cat is a tried and tested solution that has been used for centuries by farmers around the world. There are many breeds that are excellent mousers and will keep your barn free from rats and mice, but many rescue cats are suitable for barn-living too.
Make sure you provide adequate care to any cats living on your land, even if you do not own them. Food, water, and shelter should always be available, and it is important to consider some basic veterinary care to keep the cats in your barns healthy. Now, let’s find out what the top barn cats are!
The American Wirehair
Thought to originate from New York, the American Wirehair is a famous breed that resulted from a barn kitten with an unusual coat mutation.
Instead of having a soft coat, the kitten had fur much more like the wool of a sheep, and this extraordinary feature was noticed. The cat was bred and became the start of the American Wirehair breed.
These cats are popular with farmers across the globe, and particularly in America. They help to keep rodent numbers down because they have very keen hunting instincts, and their unusual coats will keep them warm and dry in outdoor conditions.
You should still make an effort to provide dry spots with plenty of straw if you have cats sleeping outside.
American Wirehair cats are strong, muscular creatures with broad chests and thick necks. These cats are medium-sized and surprisingly heavy, built for hunting big rats.
A Siamese cat might not look like a mouser, but these elegant felines are actually extraordinarily good in the barn. They are extremely playful and this leads to honed hunting instincts that give them a high success rate when it comes to removing rodents.
Highly energetic creatures, Siamese cats are always on the go, so they make vigilant barn guards. They are also extremely intelligent, which feeds into their ability to trap and catch rodents.
Because they are short-coated, they should not need much grooming and makes them suitable for hunting in dirty, dusty barns.
Be aware, however, that they are noisy cats, so if you plan to also have them in the home, you should not expect quiet.
The Maine Coon
Something so large does not seem an obvious choice for catching mice, but the Maine Coon has been a farm cat for hundreds of years (since the 19th century), and it is an excellent hunter. It was also popular on ships for keeping down the rats and mice.
These cats can rival a Siamese in terms of intelligence and will lie in wait for rodents for hours. With their superior size, they are particularly good for hunting rats; they can weigh up to eighteen pounds.
Where a smaller feline might struggle to take out a big farm rat and could get hurt in the process, most Maine Coons will have no trouble.
They are among the best domestic cat hunters, but the downside is that they do need to be brushed. If you have a Maine Coon or two in the barns with the hay and dirt, you will need to take the time to brush their coats out frequently.
Without proper care for their coats, these cats can end up matted and miserable. Make sure you have time to do this if you plan to get one of these cats for your barn.
Remember too that while they may be good mousers, they are affectionate and like to be around people, which may not be ideal for a farmyard cat.
The American Shorthair
Often overlooked, this cat is a superb hunter. They are excellent for a number of reasons, including:
- They are hardy
- Their short coats need minimal work
- They have very good hunting instincts
- They are placid around people
The American shorthair is a common cat for a reason; it has a lot of history as a mouser and was often kept on farms because of its skill in keeping the rodent population low.
If you want a cat that will need very little input from you while it keeps mice out of your barns, this is an excellent choice. Independent, calm, and tough, the American Shorthair is an ideal farmyard companion.
A Rescued Barn Cat
If you really want a cat that is both happy in the barn and capable of handling the rodent population, your best option is to rehome a barn cat that has ended up at a rescue. These are often at risk of euthanization because they are challenging to rehome in normal circumstances, and are unhappy in a house.
They will not require your attention (beyond basic care such as feeding) and will not want to come into the house, which may be ideal in a farmyard setting. Although you probably won’t be able to choose a specific breed, many of these cats will outstrip the purebreds by far when it comes to hunting.
A lot of a cat’s hunting behavior is learned, and a cat that has grown up in a barn will have spent far more time honing its skills as a rodent-killer than a cat purchased from a breeder or even adopted from a normal rescue.
Because of this, rescued barn cats and feral cats are often significantly better mousers than even the top hunting breeds, and if you need a cat for your barns, stables, etc., you should certainly consider taking one of these on.
All cats are hunters, and humans domesticated cats specifically for the purpose of keeping down rodent pests in our grain stores. However, some breeds do have advantages, such as the intelligence to outwit rodents or the size and strength to take them down.
Consider the four breeds above, or think about taking on a rescued cat that could meet your needs in the barn.