Barn and Garden Cat Adoptions

Frequently Asked Questions

These are feral or unsocialized cats that cannot be adopted as friendly indoor pets due to unsafe behaviors. They are usually from environments such as areas with un-managed, rampant breeding, colonies that have lost their caretaker, hoarding situations and dangerous locations where cats are facing human threats. 

These are cats that cannot be returned to their original locations through our Return To Field (RTF) program due to various circumstances. 

Traditionally, these cats would have been euthanized, but now many shelters successfully adopt them to individuals with barns, gardens, and businesses in need of all-natural rodent control, or that simply enjoy having independent outdoor felines. The Bradshaw Shelter has been successfully placing these cats as “working cats” since 2013.

Our Barn Cats are ferals accustomed to outdoor living, and that we feel will be successful working cats in either rural or urban environments. Barn Cats are not friendly house cats; they are not handleable and will mostly avoid human contact. They are masters of escape with strong fight or flight senses. However, they will usually become comfortable with their feeder’s presence in time. 

Our Garden Cats are generally semi-feral or under-socialized and prefer to live in an outdoor or mostly-outdoor urban environment. These cats are known to us as having come from non-rural settings, and in most cases are not suited for life where there are predators (e.g., they have no rural “street smarts”), and will likely just want to hang out in your safe yard.

Although not true ferals, they are often a little "spicy", and not fond of handling. However, given regular attention, Garden Cats may in time become more social, and tolerate some petting. Some adopters have told us their Garden Cats have even become regular house cats!​

Yes, and Daily!! These cats may catch rodents, but many do so simply for sport, not food, as part of their natural prey drive. Regardless, all Barn and Garden Cats require daily feeding and fresh water. 

Hydration is critical! It is also worth noting that we cannot guarantee these cats will catch rodents, or solve a rodent problem, although many times just their presence will deter them.

We cannot stress enough the importance of PROPER acclimation in a secure structure for the cats’ safety. As an example, if someone plopped you down in the middle of an unfamiliar city, and you had no idea where to find food or shelter, you’d immediately take off in search of that security, and who knows where you’d end up, or if you’d even find what you need to survive. 

The same goes for our Barn and Garden Cats. Because these cats are leery of people and new situations, and have a great need to feel safe, they must have time to get acquainted with their new surroundings; this means getting familiar with the sounds, scents, and the daily activities of the humans, and any other animals on the property. Without this, they will most surely run off, never to be seen again, and may fall victim to predators or starvation.

A minimum acclimation period for adult cats is two weeks. Barn Kittens and Garden Kittens require at least one month, sometimes more. In rural areas, the structure must be secure from predators, such as a barn/tack room, shop, or fully enclosed chicken coop. 

For either Barn Cats or Garden Cats, an unused garage, green house, or temperature-safe shed with windows and good airflow, may also work. Keep in mind the temperature, especially in summer! Whatever the structure, you must be able to get in and out to feed and scoop a litterbox daily without the cats getting out. 

Remember, your cats will need continued safe housing, so it’s best to acclimate in the same place as they will use later for ongoing safety.

There is safety and security in numbers. For rural environments, we require that a minimum of two Barn Cats be adopted together. For Garden Cats, depending upon the situation, we may adopt a single cat. 

Multiple cats will have each other for companionship and a feeling of security, are more likely to stick around, and have the most successful outcomes. 

Think again about being plopped down in that unfamiliar city mentioned earlier, if you had a buddy, you’d feel a whole lot safer!

In many cases, yes. Because we often receive multiple cats from a single location, we’re able to adopt them in at least pairs so they already have a familiar pal as they head off into a new environment. 

However, when proper acclimation instructions are followed, unfamiliar cats will usually form similar bonds and should also live harmoniously. With all cats, we strive to make good matches based upon the temperaments we observe in the shelter.

Prior to adopting, ask yourself, “Can I commit to these cats for the remainder of their lives?” Because these cats are not easy to trap, and do not easily move from one location to another, we aim to place them into situations where they will receive lifelong care by the original adopters. 

The cats cannot be left to fend for themselves, nor can it be assumed the next home owner or tenant will take over care. If you are renting, be honest about your commitment to the cats, and your ability to ensure continued care should your circumstances change. 

However, to move your cats with you, you will need to either: 

  • Trap the cats using humane cat traps
  • Secure the cats in a confined space and coax into carriers, if possible, or very carefully use a small animal net to catch them and transfer into carriers. 

Please use caution no matter the method! You will also need to follow the original acclimation instructions for the new property.

No. We do not adopt Barn or Garden cats for a temporary “job”. They are a lifelong commitment, just as is any other animal. If you have an immediate rodent problem, we first ask if you know the source of the problem, and what measures you’ve taken to resolve the issue, such as cleaning out/decluttering the problematic area, and removing food sources and nesting material. 

Often there are commonsense solutions that should be used before taking on the full commitment of adopting Barn or Garden Cats. There are also popular alternatives such as ultrasonic deterrents, and all-natural repellents containing peppermint oil or predatory urine, all of which are easily found online. Alternate solutions may require some elbow grease or research on your part, but are worth the effort.

These cats will usually need be trapped in order to get them to a veterinarian, but not all veterinarians will treat ferals. It is strongly recommended that adopters establish a relationship with a full-service veterinary clinic in their area, or with a rural veterinarian that makes “house calls”, before any need arises. 

However, good daily care is the best preventative to many common medical issues. Make sure you’re helping your cats maintain their health by feeding quality food. “Cheap” food can result in digestive upset, poor coats, allergies to fillers/additives, and not provide optimal nutrition for these cats that may not/cannot receive regular wellness care. 

Ensuring multiple sources of clean, fresh water may keep cats from drinking from stagnant or dirty bodies of water where they can contract internal parasites and/or diseases. Providing clean, dry shelter from the elements, especially in inclement weather, can help prevent Upper Respiratory Infection (URI). 

Long-acting oral flea/tick medication can also be obtained from veterinarians, and oral dewormers are readily available at pet/feed stores or online.

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