Adopt a WDR Barn Cat

Wagging Dog Rescue has embarked upon a new endeavor – CATS! Welcome to WDR’s Barn Cat Program!!

Feral and semi-feral felines are euthanized daily at municipal (open admission) shelters, so we’re solving two problems with one animal – CATS! By rescuing these animals to place in approved ‘working’ homes, we reduce the number of ferals killed in our local shelters while also helping our community members to manage unwanted guests in an eco-friendly way!

Got rodents? When people use poison, they not only kill rodents but also other animals including family pets, beneficial garden snakes and opossums, and birds of prey who are doing their own work patrolling for critters. Giving a home to a rescued barn cat (or several) is a great way to keep critter populations managed with natural methods. Plus it’s a win win – by adopting, you save the lives of feral/semi-feral felines who would otherwise not survive an animal shelter. You give them a second chance, the best chance they’ve probably ever been gifted.

Available cats for barn home placement varies daily in local shelters. We do not accept privately owned felines into our program.

Our barn cat adoption procedure includes:

  • completed WDR Barn Cat Adoption Application
  • phone interview
  • photos of space where cats will live, including proposed confinement area
  • adoption agreement

We do not charge a fee for the adoption of our feral cats but do ask adopters to consider a donation to our rescue.

Please remember that our entire team is all volunteer and we rescue around our family and work schedules. We’re grateful for your understanding and patience and hope you’ll appreciate our thoroughness with the care and placement of our rescued felines.

All barn cats are spayed/neutered, current on vaccinations, dewormed, microchipped, and ear tipped (when possible).

Barn Cat FAQ

Adoption Checklist - I'm ready to adopt my barn cats!

I’ve read the FAQs and have all of these items ready for each cat. My barn cats can move in any time!

  • secure, protected location and method for confinement during acclimation period
  • litter box and litter
  • food and water bowls
  • cat food (including wet food)
  • medium cardboard box to hide in
  • towel or blanket for bedding
  • catnip if possible
  • completed WDR Barn Cat Adoption Application
Do I need a barn?

Cat enclosure in progress. These cats were confined in 42″ crates while the enclosure was being built.

No. A barn or stand alone structure is not required to adopt working felines. All homes and properties are unique, and each has unique options to offer a safe place for feral felines. We’re happy to discuss your particular space and what options you might have available. The Rescue Lady’s barn cats live under a deck of the house, in an area that is accessible to them and safe from predators. (She built a secured enclosure that can be used as needed, with insulated cat condos that no one appreciates.) Other people have used chicken coops, sheds, tack rooms, garages … there can be many options for a safe location for cats!

How long does it take a barn cat to acclimate to his/her new environment?

When your new wildcats arrive at their new home, we’ll ask you to securely confine them for 6-8 weeks so they can acclimate to their new environment and caregivers. This confinement period will help them to decompress after their stressful shelter experience. It will also allow them time to get used to the new humans in their lives, people they can learn to trust. The confinement period establishes a reliable daily routine of feeding and care and creates an association that the ‘barn’ is a place of safety, food and shelter. When the cats are released after this period, they will be more likely to remain on your property and continue with the regular routine.

How do I confine my barn cats for their acclimation period?

Crate setup with hiding box, litter pan, bowls and a bed.

If you have a secure space around your home or other structure, awesome! There should be no gaps greater than 1 1/2″. Yes, you read that right – 1.5 inches. Cats can squeeze through some ridiculous spaces, and most feral cats are not huge like the average indoor house pet. (We probably won’t be able to find you a 15 or 20 lb. feral.) Cats have flat skulls and can squish through any opening that their head can fit through. You can modify openings with chicken wire if needed to eliminate any exit points. We’re happy to discuss your options if minor modifications (or building a cat enclosure!) is of interest to you. Alternatively, a 42″ wire or plastic crate will suffice to safely confine your cats during their acclimation. One 42″ crate per feline, each with its own set of interior decor (litter pan, food/water bowls, cardboard box for hiding, towel or similar for bedding).

Will my cats remain after their acclimation period?

Vader left a few days after release. She didn’t like the other cat from the get go. He stuck around and is still there 4+ years later, but she had another agenda.

We sure hope so but it’s impossible to know. Occasionally adopters will put a lot of effort into their preparations and care, only to have a feral cat leave shortly after release. (It happened to the Rescue Lady.) It can be a stab in the heart lol, but all animals are individuals – especially cats. Because the cats in our Barn Cat Program come from shelters where they were not able to be handled by staff, there is no way to know how they will do with another cat(s). Like dogs, some cats like some cats and do not like others. Some are just loners, or roamers. Barn cat rescue and adoption is unique in that there are more unknowns when working with animals who are wild or can’t be handled. We do our best when helping you to select your working felines but can only make educated guesses about these living creatures. If upon release, one of your barn cats doesn’t stick around, we will place another feral/semi-feral shelter cat with you and try for success the next time.

Do I have to feed my barn cats?

Yes. These are working animals. They will still hunt, don’t worry. Feeding your barn cats a healthy, nutritious diet twice daily not only keeps them in tip top working shape but also reaffirms the bond between the cat and his/her territory. You also don’t want your hunters consuming their catches – in case one of your neighbors uses rat poison, etc. Healthy hunters are the best hunters. And when the dinner bell rings, they’ll come running from anywhere on your property. It’s cute!

Should I feed canned food?

It’s up to you but we suggest yes. Cats in general do not consume enough water, and private vets will tell you as much. Most of their cat patients are dehydrated, and kidney (renal) failure is common among felines. Canned cat food has high water content (and you can add more when you prepare it). It’s also like cat junk food. During the initial confinement period, we suggest feeding canned food for at least one meal each day. You want your new cat to think living with you is wonderful and magical, so they’ll be more likely to stick around once released. The Rescue Lady feeds her ferals kibble for breakfast and canned food for dinner (with a little added water).

Will I be able to pet my barn cats?
Successful barn cat Voodoo

Taming the wild beastie. Voodoo turned out to be super affectionate but remains sketchy to this day. His flight response is strong. Street smart!

If petting your barn cats is important to you, please be sure to let us know so we can look for semi-feral felines vs cats that are believed feral. (However please note that we can not guarantee anything.) Cats end up in shelters for any number of reasons, and sometimes they aren’t actually feral but don’t reveal themselves until they’ve been out of that stressful environment and in a more comforting one for a time. Some cats will tolerate limited touch in a shelter setting but will react negatively with too much pressure, making them unsuitable for public adoption. Many rescued barn cats can be ‘tamed’ (sort of) during their confinement period or upon release. An owner can often teach them that petting and scratches are enjoyable. Some cats even become touch junkies! So sweet when you realize they may never have felt a kind touch in their lives. We’ve placed several barn cats who ended up as indoor house pets. You never know!

What is an ear tip?
black barn cat with tipped ear

Some surgeons take off more ear than others.

An ‘ear tip’ signifies that a cat has been fixed. During spay/neuter surgery, the tip of one ear will be cropped. This procedure is not done for most indoor/tame cats. If someone sees a feral cat in their neighborhood with a tipped ear, or animal control spots a wandering feline with that bit of identifying info, they’ll know that the animal has already been TNR’d – trapped, neutered (or spayed), and released back to their neighborhood. You might also see the acronym TNVR – trap, neuter, vaccinate, release. Community TNR/TNVR programs help to reduce the number of unwanted cats/kittens as well as the number of lives being killed in our shelters due to overpopulation. Euthanasia is not a form of population control.

Should my barn cats wear collars?

No. A collar poses many threats to an outdoor working cat, including but not limited to death. Collars and tags make noise, and free roaming felines need to be stealthy to stay healthy. They can also get hung up on the tight spaces or shrubbery, etc. which hunting cats often patrol. Your barn cat will be microchipped and this is the most identification that your outdoor working feline should wear. (Microchips are implanted under the skin.)

Should I trim my barn cat's nails?

No. Claws are a major part of an outdoor cat’s defense system. Trimming their nails (or far worse and inhumane, declawing) can be a death sentence for a working cat, akin to sending a soldier to war without a weapon. Nails and claws need to remain as nature intended. Appropriate scratching areas should be provided for any feline (indoor or outdoor).

What about fleas?

You can speak with your veterinarian about getting a prescription for Comfortis or similar edible feline monthly flea preventative. It’s not likely that you’ll be able to apply a topical product to your barn cats each month. Flea collars are an absolute no. The Rescue Lady fasts her felines for breakfast on the day of application and only feeds (wet food) dinner; she quarters a dose of Comfortis and uses Tomlyn Pill Masker Paste to cover each piece, then adds to the bowl of food.

Why must I adopt 2 or more barn cats?

black and grey barn cats with their heads through a cat door

There is safety in numbers. That’s really the bottom line. Multiple cats living together help each other. They watch out for each other, patrol together. Predators are less likely to take on multiple cats than one flying solo. And who knows, maybe your cats will become BFFs. Who wouldn’t want that? (If you already have a barn cat(s) in your family, be sure to let us know.)

What about coyotes?
close-up of a black cats paw with coyote fur under the nail

Coyote fur. Someone was lucky and hopefully learned some valuable life skills.

Coyotes are a grave concern, no doubt – but raccoons pose an equal threat. Our philosophy is this: All of the cats in WDR’s Barn Cat Program come from municipal (open intake) shelters where they’ve run out of time. We only accept cats with confirmed outdoor history and do not accept kittens. These cats will be euthanized by the shelter if not rescued, sometimes in as little as 24 hours. They can only care for feral felines for so long, and if they can not (or will not) TNR (release the cat back to its neighborhood), they euthanize instead. By rescuing these animals and placing them into barn homes, we’re giving them the best possible chance while also directly impacting the number of lives saved within a shelter system. With human caregivers to watch out for their wellbeing, who ensure they have reliable meals every day and a place to sleep and stay safe from the elements and more – we believe this is a positive outcome for these cats and also the humans who adopt them. (We’ve also had several ‘fake’ feral felines become cherished indoor house pets!) You can google ‘coyote proof cat shelter’ for ideas for bolt boxes which can be placed around your property. You’ll find everything from fancy handcrafted insulated wood shelters to equally serviceable (and still insulated) shelters made from plastic storage bins! Escape routes, access points and bolt boxes will help your working cats to remain safe on the job. Developing a relationship with them and encouraging them to return to their main shelter at night can also help them to live long lives.

Barn Cat Helpful Ideas

DIY Cat Enclosure

Turn a couple Ikea shelves into a DIY shelter and confinement area for barn cats

Don’t have anywhere to keep your barn cats confined for the first few weeks after adoption? Or need a protected area for them to go for shelter even after acclimation? Here is a great idea for turning a couple Ikea shelves and some chicken wire into a perfect (and possibly adorable!) area for a couple of barn cats!

Hiding Spots

How about these bins with removable sides from Rubbermaid? These bins make an awesome hide-out spot for a barn cat, and last WAY longer than a cardboard box! All cats like a good place to hide, and for working cats it is an essential part of their safety. These plastic tubs make it super easy, and as you can see, the kitties love them!

These are some of the beautiful feral felines that WDR has rescued at the eleventh hour and placed in Southern California barn homes.

Ready to Apply?

Take the next step and fill out an application!

We’ll contact you as soon as we receive it.