Not all cats are into being housemates, and that’s okay. Some cats prefer mice-hunting to bird-watching, and some prefer laying in grass to sitting on laps. Here at APA!, we believe that just because a feral or undersocialized cat isn’t a fit for a traditional home, they still deserve a chance to live happy and healthy by being provided with the stimulation of critter hunting that a barn placement provides.
Marissa Dunthorn also shares that belief. In September of 2019, she adopted two barn cats to help control the number of rats sneaking chicken feed off the ground. When asked how her barn cats, Vengeance and Professor Fluffybutt, were stepping up, Marissa was more than pleased with their work: “I haven’t seen a single rat in weeks. I am amazed and thankful!"
Marissa cares as much about the kitties as the work they do. She cares for them in the large enclosure they lived in for the first few weeks at their new home, a process we advise all our barn cat adopters to partake in order to give these kitties a sense of home. “We also have a live cam,” she says, “so I have seen them both come for food and water.”
Marissa understands firsthand that feral cats are happiest when they are given their space. At her house, that space is under her shed, where it’s safe and quiet: “They definitely don’t like personal contact, but they never once scratched or bit me while they were enclosed. They still hide all day long, but as long as they’re happy, I’m happy!”
As Kristen Hansen, Cat Program Manager at APA!, says, barn cats like Vengeance and Professor Fluffybutt don’t usually have a chance at other shelters. However, feral cats don’t deserve to be punished for having a hard time trusting people.
APA! barn cats come from the euthanasia list of animal control, and this innovative program serves as their only live path out of impoundment, as these cats cannot be adopted as traditional pets, are not eligible for Trap-Neuter-Return, and, for one reason or another, cannot be returned to their original outdoor habitat, which is always preferable. Without this program, feral cats would be euthanized at local animal control facilities.
You may be wondering: where is the line between an angry house cat and a feral cat? Kristen stresses that feral doesn’t necessarily mean what we think it does: “Feral doesn’t really mean that they’re going to attack you or that they’re angry or violent. It just means that they’ve never really been around humans, and they don’t know if we’re friends or foes.”
APA!’s Barn Cat Program is structured to provide feral cats with all the basics they need with the limited human interaction they want. They are housed in roofed enclosures with fenced walls. They have room to hang out in the rafters and to get the sights and sounds of outdoor life. Our cat care team takes time every day to scoop litter boxes, clean, and replenish their water and food. Before being placed in the barns, every cat is vaccinated, microchipped, and sterilized to keep everyone as healthy as possible in their new outdoor life.
A non-traditional life is not a bad life, and without innovative programs like our Barn Cat Program, the outcome for feral cats is euthanasia. We’ve placed these loveable free spirits at ranches, breweries, stables and spas. Our Barn Cat Program ensures that cats who like their space get to live out a comfortable, stimulating life by giving them a job to do! You can add a whiskered worker to your life by adopting a barn cat from APA!.