When we moved to our new place, we were surprised by how few squirrels we saw. Instead of squirrels what we had was a plethora of moles and voles. Parts of the yard were so torn up by their holes and tunnels that you might want to carry a ankle brace everywhere just in case. The solution: adopt a barn cat.
We had heard that you could adopt outdoor cats known as barn cats for free at many SPCA locations, so that’s just what we did one year ago. We went into the SPCA and told them what we were looking for, they in turn wanted us to go meet and handle every cat in the place. We told them, and even put on the adoption form, that we were looking for a cat that was a rodent catching machine. Eventually we decided to take a cat that they were having trouble getting adopted and had been there almost a year. Her name was River and we took her home in a cat carrier we had found in the shed, which had been left by the previous owner.
In the days leading up to the adoption, I had built a very nice insulated cathouse, using pallet wood and some small trees from the yard.
It did not work. We even tried moving it onto the front porch so she would be close to us, but this too failed. Eventually I scraped most of the house and just kept the legs and roof as a cover for the duck food.
When we adopted River they said part of the reason she had not been taken yet was that she was antisocial. This could not be farther from the truth. Anytime you move around outside she will be by your side asking to be petted. You bend down to pull a weed or tie your show and she is there belly up asking for some petting.
A year later, even though she spends most of her day sleeping on the porch swing, our yard is “mostly” free of small rodents.