Why You Should Consider Getting a Barn Cat & How to Care for Them

Cats become feral when they are not socialized to humans by seven weeks of age. This manifests itself mostly by avoiding people, although some may evolve to be indoor cats if you want. We had one feral cat who never let me touch him for the eight years he lived at my place until he died in his sleep, while another began to roll over for belly rubs after a few months.

Adopting a feral cat from a shelter or rescue group means they will be vaccinated and altered, which leads to less fighting, marking and far-flung roaming. It’s easy to care for feral cats. Here are some tips.

Adopt pairs: Feral cats are more likely to stick around if they have a friend with them. So, if possible, adopt a pair of cats.

Feed them: A well-fed cat is a more efficient hunter because a cat who must spend all her active time just getting enough to eat doesn’t have the energy for additional recreational hunting.

Protect them from predators: Bobcats and coyotes are a danger to cats in more rural areas. One way to keep them safe is to put out food after dark every night just inside their garden shed, barn, or garage and shut them in for the night. Then let them out in the morning. They will quickly get used to this routine of coming inside when they’re more likely to be prey themselves.

Hunting and Eating Insects

As much as you might like to give them credit, cats don’t typically eat bugs for the protein. Instead, chasing, killing, and eating bugs all relates back to your cat’s natural-born instinct to hunt. Most domesticated cats don’t get the chance to “hunt” for their food, but the instinct remains—even in the laziest of cats.

But is eating bugs harmful to your cat?Well, that depends. Whether your cat is indoor-only or goes outside, most bugs he will encounter aren’t likely to pose a threat. Your kitty may be more in danger of suffering a bee sting than a nasty case of bug digestion. Usually, the most adverse reaction your cat will experience from eating a bug is a bit of drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea. This should clear up on its own—but if you notice your kitty still having issues a couple of days later, call your vet.

Cats do sometimes eat cockroaches and other hard-bodied insects like beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers. These are typically harmless to your cat, although their exoskeletons may cause gastrointestinal upset.

Stink bugs, also called shield bugs, get their name from their habit of releasing a foul odor when they feel threatened or are squished. Stink bugs aren’t poisonous to cats or other pets, but you’ll still want to prevent your cat from eating them if you can. 

Small house centipedes are typically harmless to cats and other pets. However, in the Southwest U.S. you may find several species of large centipedes whose bite could be toxic or even deadly to your cat. These include the giant desert centipede, giant Sonoran centipede, Texas redheaded centipede, and giant redheaded centipede.

Cats can eat mosquitoes without suffering any negative health consequences. Of course, mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases that are transmittable to humans and pets alike. However, eating a mosquito is not likely to harm your cat. This is because the digestive acids in your cat’s intestinal tract will neutralize the germs, thus rendering them harmless.

Cats can eat silverfish without experiencing any adverse effects on their health. Silverfish are harmless to cats since they do not sting or emit toxins to ward off predators. Furthermore, silverfish do not harbor any bacteria that may spread diseases to cats.

Your cat may experience negative effects or experience none after eating a caterpillar, depending on the species consumed. Some species of caterpillar possess hairs or spines that can deliver a painful sting. This is a survival mechanism that allows these bugs to protect themselves from predators. If a cat gets too close or eats such a caterpillar, it may have negative consequences. These include allergic reactions, illness, and even death. It is difficult to tell whether a caterpillar is poisonous at first glance. As such, eating a caterpillar is a bad idea for your cat.

Moths are harmless for cats since they are not toxic and do not sting. If your feline eats moths, it’s unlikely to experience any health problems. However, if consumed in large amounts, your cat might experience a stomach upset, which might induce diarrhea and vomiting.

Bumblebees are non-poisonous, so your cat shouldn’t have any problem digesting them. When swallowed whole, a bumblebee will be digested just like any other protein. With that said, bumblebees can deliver painful stings that can cause a severe reaction if your cat is allergic. Dead bees aren’t toxic to cats and cannot cause any digestive problems when consumed. However, dead bees are still capable of stinging since the venom in their stinger remains active even after death.

Eating ants is not only safe but healthy for cats since they’re rich in vitamins and minerals. The only ant species that cats should not eat are fire ants and red ants. Their sting can cause inflammation and dangerous allergic reactions.

Most of us know how much cats love to catch and eat flies; we’ve even given them the name ‘sky raisins‘. While most of us find the thought of eating a fly repulsive, cats don’t share our disgust. Being natural-born predators, cats are hardwired to hunt.

If a cat is hungry, it may hunt and eat bugs to get the nutrients it lacks. Insects are rich in protein, which is why starving cats will often chase after and kill them for food. If there is one thing that cats are known for, it is their instinct to run after any living thing that moves. These prolific hunters will often catch sight of a bug in their peripheral vision and immediately pursue them. Most cats are curious and playful by nature. Few things pique the curiosity of felines more than a fluttering bug. When a cat sees the colorful patterns on an insect’s wings or body, it’s likely to chase after it.

Background information for this article was provided by Barn Cats.

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