Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Homestead Cats


Poison Ivy

Rikki Tikki and Poison Ivy as kittens

We've always liked and had cats, so coming to terms with having homestead cats wasn't an issue. Here in Hawaii, rats are a constant battle. They are everywhere. Lots of them. They run on your roof, contaminating your catchment water. They get into your buildings and homes. They eat your garden veggies, tree fruits, and nuts. They live in your car engines. They chew your solar system wiring. They are a real problem. 

We opted not to use poison baits. We have working dogs and feared they would get to the poison. And we did not want to contribute to the deaths of the endangered Hawaiian owls and hawks who could very well eat the

poisoned rodents. Snap traps work so-so,
because the rats learn to void them. And again, I didn't want to hurt the dogs. The best traps we've used were the electric shock ones. After a few zaps, the dogs avoid them. And although the cats now control 100% of the rats around the house, we still use the zap traps in the tool sheds and greenhouse. 

When we moved here, we instantly had three cats-- one we brought with us and two half grown kittens we adopted. The adult was a half hearted hunter, and the kittens were too young. So we put traps everywhere and had rats galore. Even as the kittens grew into adulthood, they never became accomplished ratters for years. The rats drove us crazy, and we caught dozens and dozens. Solution? Get more cats. 

We added a new kitten and at first she seemed promising. And though full of interest, she never honed her hunting kills enough to be a ratter. A year later we were cornered into adopting five more kittens from various litters. As they grew up, we finally had a working solution. Alas, no more rat problem! We're now glad that we were forced into adopting those  kittens. 

Rats never make it into the house anymore. Most are intercepted immediately. It is not uncommon to hear the cats running on the roof as they hunt down a new intruder. 

The cats are nice companions, good company. They are easy to maintain. We find that the cost of feeding them worth the value of being rat free. 

Now one could argue that getting a ratter dog would be a good solution. I agree. But  I  think the cats are a far better solution for Hawaii in that the rats here are roof rats. Cats have access to the roof while a dog does not.


  1. My current 8 cats rarely ever go far from the house. They are convinced that I'll call them at any minute to feed them...even though that is only in the morning. They prefer the safety and warmth of the house and concrete driveway. A few will go into the woods, but mainly because my other cats annoy or fight them. I see some Siamese in a few of your kittens.

    1. Most of our cats are homebodies too. Of the current feline family, 6 have Siamese coloration. It's pretty common here.