We operate a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program for feral cats in the Cowichan Valley, and the 'R' part of that process is very important. We cannot take feral cats away from property owners who don't want to be bothered with looking after them. We fix hundreds of ferals every year, we have no head office or shelter, we are simply a network of volunteers who work out of our own homes, and so all ferals (aside from tiny kittens) must be returned to where they came from, with an agreement with the property owner that he/she will feed them after we have 'fixed' and returned them. That being said, there are rare circumstances where a feral cat cannot go back to where it came from. For example, in 2013 we removed a champagne coloured cat from a construction site where she was living and raising kittens. She was at risk of injury if she stayed there, and after the construction company left there would be no one to continue feeding her. In this way, we are always looking for 'barn homes' where we can place a pair of feral cats to save their lives.
All barn cats are spayed or neutered and have received their first shots. We always send them out in pairs so that they have a friend (and this also helps reduce the chance that they will run away later).
Barn cats can be placed on a farm, acreage, vineyard, warehouse, or even a backyard.
We place them free of charge, but we need to make sure of a few things first. The property owner must agree to give the cat one meal of cat food every day and fresh water, forever. The cats will still take care of the rodents in your yard as you want them to. Starving cats are so desperate for a meal that they don't make good mousers. So a meal a day is essential.
The cats must be able to get out of the wind and the rain. We can provide you with a Styrofoam cat shelter so that they stay snug.
We also need to make sure that the home is not located on a busy road where it is likely that the cats will be run over.
We always ask about dogs, as it is upsetting when we hear that barn cats ran away from their new home on account of a dog's presence (not necessarily because the dog was badly behaved, but simply because feral cats are scared of dogs). Generally, dogs are not suitable to have on the same property as barn cats. A very mellow, sluggish-type dog that is disinterested in cats can be okay.
The cats must be in lockdown in an escape-proof holding space for one month so that they get used to you, their new feeder, and learn that this is their new home and food comes from you. This space can be a workshop, tack room, garage, outbuilding, etc., and if you don't have something along those lines then we can loan you an extra large wire dog kennel to keep the cats in for the month. If the shed or similar space is quite small and the cats are at risk of bolting past when the door is open, the wire kennel will be needed. After the month of lockdown, the cats can be released outside, and they should stick around.
Barn homes are very, very useful to our work. If you can meet the requirements outlined above and are willing to take on a couple of barn cats who will provide you with environmentally friendly, non-toxic rodent control, we would love to hear from you.
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