Feral cats: just the name itself sounds off putting, even unsettling. How is a shelter supposed to help save cats that are “too wild?” While many do recognize that it’s not the cats’ fault they were either born into homelessness or placed into a situation in which their survival instincts overcame their socialization, they still question if this special population is “too wild” to save. Here at APA!, we believe that that’s far from the truth.
Rather than putting them in the category of “unsavable,” which ultimately ends in euthanasia, we’ve tailored a program that helps these kitties meet their “wild” needs while simultainously matching them with adopters who are happy to invite them into their families as working cats! In 2009, the Barn Cat Program was born. It’s designed to help this specific population of cats who may not be comfortable living in a traditional home setting, but would be incredibly helpful and happy as working cats to local homeowners, landowners, and businesses who have a need for pest control.
We place approximately 300 barn cats each year, contributing to Austin’s No Kill status. We believe that these cats don’t deserve to die simply because they can’t go into a typical home environment. We recognize that they deserve shelter, access to food and water, and the stimulation of critter hunting that a barn placement provides.
Take the above colony of cats that were rescued from a hoarding situation. They’re a family of 19 that came to us poorly socialized, so our main catteries were not a good option for them to live full lives. To help lower their stress levels, we’re keeping them in one of our barn cat enclosures, which provide a quiet, outdoor environment for feral cats. This allows them to live together in peace while they adjust to their new surroundings.
As a part of our feral cat protocol, we’re slowly working with them one-by-one to determine if any of them are able to be socialized and adopted out through our normal cattery, or if they would be good candidates for foster. For any cat that doesn’t seem to fit into the traditional housecat mold, they will become part of our Barn Cat Program.
At many shelters, this family would’ve been deemed “too wild” to take in. Since feral cats are generally inclined to be reactive towards humans, they aren’t typically cleared to be adopted out, and therefore face euthanasia. In reality, these cats are just incredibly frightened and want to be left alone; that doesn’t mean they don’t have a home waiting for them in which their needs will be recognized and met.
Here at APA!, we know that these cats are worth saving. Our Barn Cat Program places them in an environment where they can happily live out their lives, being the free souls they’re meant to be. They can’t change where they came from and why that made them the way they are, but that doesn’t mean their lives don’t matter.
Since 2009, we have been rescuing feral cats that need a safe haven to call home. Like people, cats have their own personalities – some are just pricklier than others. If you are a landowner, farmer, business owner, etc that is looking to make a barn cat a part of your family, please find more information on how to do so here.
If you would like to support the innovative efforts being pioneered at APA! to protect vulnerable lives like our barn cats, then please make a contribution today. With your help, we’ll be able to change the course of sheltering for feral cats not only across Central Texas, but across the country.