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Provide a home for a barn cat, with King County's help
Regional Animal Services of King County has a volunteer-run program, Barn Cats R Us, that re-homes outdoor cats to barns and garages where they work as rodent hunters.
Many of these cats are feral or very shy, and so will be seldom seen. Others are friendly, but are too unhappy living indoors to be good housepets. Most of these barn cats have been rescued from sites threatened by development, or other outdoor homes where the previous owners have moved or can't keep caring for their outdoor cats. Regardless of the origin of these cats, Animal Services' goal is to humanely prevent free-roaming cats from uncontrolled breeding, which is a major source of homeless kittens and adult cats winding up in shelters.
These mousers and ratters will provide totally organic rodent control that does not depend on the use of poisons that can sicken kids, pets, livestock, and wild animals. Best of all, RASKC places barn cats at no charge to you. Once placed, you only need to provide warm, safe shelter, a dependable source of food, and fresh water.
Volunteers will "install" your new barn cats for you, or you may pick them up at the Pet Adoption Center after filling out an adoption application and being interviewed by a barn cat program volunteer to make sure that you are prepared to properly acclimate your new cats so they stay on your property.
On large rural properties with barns, we recommend that you adopt three or four cats to ensure effective rodent control. In addition, cats in groups can alert each other to dangers from approaching predators such as coyotes or free-roaming dogs. Urban and suburban garage homes are ideal for one or two cats. The county routinely place garage cats with backyard chicken farmers, where chicken feed is causing a rodent problem.
To ensure they are healthy, barn cats have had a check-up by a veterinarian, are spayed or neutered, have been ear-tipped for identification purposes, have tested negative for serious feline communicable diseases, and have received all the usual cat vaccines, including the rabies vaccine. If fleas are an issue, depending on how tame your barn cats are, you can apply a normal feline flea treatment, or feed them a tablet like Program once a month. If you need to get them re-vaccinated or take them to a vet, RAKSC will advise you on how to trap them and transfer them to cat carriers.
Animal Services often has barn cats available for immediate adoption. If not, they will place your name on a barn cat program waiting list. Visit Barn Cat Request Form (PDF) at http://www.kingcounty.gov/safety/regionalAnimalServices/SpecialProgramsServices/BarnCatsRUs.aspx, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Animal Services usually places barn cats in King County, but some volunteers are willing to deliver them to other areas in western Washington.