Monday April 21, 2014
It was the wisp of a tail that gave him away. He thought he was creeping oh so quietly out of the chicken coop. At first I thought the light was playing tricks on me as I shut in the chickens for the evening but my fears were confirmed as he disappeared into the night. What was he searching for? All the grain was sealed tight with just the daily feed in the chicken bowl available. And the cat, my thoughts immediately went to that lazy well-fed cat! His job was pest control in the barn and I now realized that his meows for food would attract less of my concern. We run a clean barn. Clean barn equals good animal health and minimal pests but this guy had slipped through the cracks and now was the target of my obsession.
Many people put out rat poison and that solves their problem. We are running a somewhat organic barn so another method is needed. Boozer the cat is supposed to be our solution and we would have to motivate him, i.e. buddy, time to hunt for your dinner because Meow Mix is off the menu for a while. Trapping is another great “organic” way to get rid of these unwanted friends. Some people use the “Have a Heart” trap that catches them live and then you release them elsewhere like your neighbors’ yard or an “empty” field. I can only imagine getting caught doing this and the ire I would receive. Knowing the fact that my neighbors own guns keeps me from this option.
This leaves me with the cat option, (motivation) and the snap trap method that sends them to rat heaven a little earlier than they expected. I know the animal people are cringing right now but a rat can cause some damage. They can threaten the health of farm animals by infecting feed, bringing in fleas and parasites and transmitting general disease to the barn. Plus they are ugly. Yes they are ugly.
Did I mention that they multiply rather quickly? If not taken care of, you can have a barn full of rats in no time and they will decide that your house across from the barn would make a great second home for rat vacation. And then the kid rats will decide they no longer want to live with their parents, make your house a full time residence and decide to play basketball in the attic at 3am in the morning. Yes, I speak from experience and it is not pretty.
It’s a good general idea to act quickly before you need to call in the professionals. I will deal with this new visitor to the barn and send him on his way. I’ve tried the “ask nicely to leave” approach and it just doesn’t work. Also if that cat doesn’t get to work soon he may find his butt on someone else’s doorstep as well.