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Author Topic: Feral cats  (Read 5896 times)

Part time dabbler

  • Joined Aug 2016
  • Cornwall
Feral cats
« on: December 11, 2017, 01:43:46 pm »
I am considering getting one or two feral or barn cats (is there a difference?) and want to be sure I am not going to be causing myself any difficulties.

I am in a relatively remote area. I keep chickens who free range a fair bit, our neighbours have sheep and therefore lambs in the spring. Will they cause any problems to the hens and lambs?

I want them to keep the wild rabbits, rats, mice population under control. I am also aware we have badgers and deer but would not think there would be any problems in that area unless you tell me different.
Physically part time in the garden, mentally full time in the garden

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Feral cats
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2017, 07:00:17 pm »
I've only had one cat go after half grown hens, but not full size birds. No problem with the other wildlife. Only some cats go after rabbits, mostly they'll just take juveniles, same with rats, cats don't seem to dent populations very much, just keep them on their toes.
Maybe just get one; they don't need company as herding animals do and make sure it's neutered. Cats protection league charge £50 per cat here which I think is a bit steep, have a look in paper and online. Feral cats are ones that haven't grown up in a home environment and learnt to be tame and handled may or may not be the best. Personally I wouldn't get one by design as if (when) something goes wrong its a hassle to catch and treat. We have two Feral farm cats; they arrived by themselves, trapped and neutered, they sort themselves out but we never get near them. Our recycled CPL generic black cat eats mice every day, but will come in for a warm by the fire too.  :cat:


  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: Feral cats
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2017, 08:05:55 pm »
I have just taken on a feral kitten about 6 months old from the CPL We already have a barn cat and his friend died a year ago. Molly the name I gave the kitten has come on so well. I was told that we may not see much of her once I let her out of the pen that I kept her in for a week. Not the case. She stuck around inside the stable building and now comes running in the morning with out other cat Barnaby for her breakfast. She does not bother my 3 old chickens and uses the litter tray that I have in the empty stable. She cost me £20. Came spayed and vet checked. On her 2nd day out of the pen she caught a young rat !


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Feral cats
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2017, 09:03:07 pm »
Only other thing to mention, if you get one that's not been through one of the charities, is worms, especially toxacara.  Kittens will be excreting it (and possibly lactating mum is too); if they poop on hay that's then eaten by pregnant sheep, it can cause abortion.

But if you're having neutered cats (so no kittens) or kittens which are properly wormed (repeated doses up to six months, I think) and won't get into your sheep-keeping neighbour's hay stacks, all should be well.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Part time dabbler

  • Joined Aug 2016
  • Cornwall
Re: Feral cats
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2017, 08:46:57 am »
Thank you, your experiences are encouraging and my worries about my chickens and the neighbours sheep are allayed.

If I get one or two then it will be re-homing rescue cat(s) through a reputable charity and will make sure they are neutered and fully vaccinated and will ensure they are health checked at appropriate intervals (whatever the charity suggest). I see no benefit in rehoming animals not to then treat them decently.
Physically part time in the garden, mentally full time in the garden


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Feral cats
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2017, 04:21:10 pm »
I've rehomed about 15 farm cats over the years and their rewarding. Just make sure you keep them inside for a good 4 weeks minimum. Personally I like to keep them in very large a dog crate for a week or so, until their confident enough to come out of their box when your about.

When their confident to show themselves I let them into a larger building (which will become their regular feeding place) with blocked off windows, so they can see outside but not go out just yet. I tend to handle them when their eating, I use a goose feather to stroke them with initially and our of the 15 or so cats there was only one that I couldn't stroke with my hands. The four I have now are all friendly, at feeding time, although I can't pick them up.

I appreciate what others have said about worming but in my experience you can't handle the cats to administer a wormer and if you sprinkle wormer onto their food they ignore it. It can be frustrating at times and if they injure themselves getting them treated is a very big deal. The Cats Protection I get my cats from have suggested that if I ever need to get vets treatment for the cats I contact them as they have the equipment to catch and handle them safely; thick gauntlet gloves, squeeze cage etc.


  • Joined Feb 2014
Re: Feral cats
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2017, 09:56:15 pm »
Bit of confusion here between toxocara, which is a worm but doesn't cause abortion in sheep, and toxoplasma parasite which does cause abortion.  This is contracted usually when cats first start hunting and 1 cat can shed enough oocysts to abort all the sheep in the UK! If you go for a cat over 2 year old that would be the safest option as there is no way to prevent your cat getting toxoplasma. 
 it will probably get shot on sight by a keeper or neighbour otherwise.


  • Joined Oct 2011
Re: Feral cats
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2017, 11:27:21 pm »
I didn't have much success with mine that I got from the CPL. I kept them in a  cage in a quiet stable for two weeks and then I saw one once and then a year later the local vet had one brought in dead off the road.
    We have had stray cats but they have always been friendly enough to catch and take to the vet.

Terry T

  • Joined Sep 2014
  • Norfolk
Re: Feral cats
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2017, 11:45:04 pm »
We had a similar experience. 6 wks in a cage,stayed for 3 days, I think out of fear, and found hit by a cat 6 months later. I kind of felt that at least we gave it a “get out of jail free” card. It was obviously preferred to live wild.


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