Barn Cats Traveled to the Farm

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When on the road, it is important to know that your home is safe and sound.  Thinking of the sound of little mice entering my farm house while I blindly travel about was disconcerting, so Barn Cats to the rescue!

Before we lost our 15 year-old beloved Aussie mix Sherman, our farm/porch cat Shadow disappeared.  He had been a happy addition to our farm for the past 11 years.  He was not a sit on your lap kind of cat, but one that liked to be petted and talked to.  He also kept our home and part of the farm rodent free.

Living on a farm, we have the room and the need for barn cats, so when my friend Janna told me about the new Barn Cat program that just began this past August, I contacted Sarah Moore, the coordinator at  the Sangamon County Animal Protective League at once to find out all about it. 

To get the program in a nut shell, I went online and read, “Animal Protective League (APL) is launching a new program to transfer feral cats from area animal control facilities to suitable outdoor homes. Feral cats are unsocialized, unfriendly to people, and not accustomed to living indoors. Thousands of feral cats are euthanized in Illinois animal shelters every year because they are not adoptable as house pets. APL’s Barn Cat Program will place these cats in appropriate locations like barns, stables, and warehouses, where the cats will be safe, well fed, and can provide a service to their adopters by providing free, effective, and non-toxic rodent control.”

While I admit, I love to have a friendly cat, the idea of saving my feline friends from being euthanized and having rodent control was one that caught my attention.  These feral cats have little chance of adoption because they are not the cuddly, wrap around your leg kind of felines.

Working with the coordinator of the program Sarah Moore.  The program is almost to good to be true, the ALA provides cats that are healthy, spayed or neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, treated for fleas and intestinal parasites, and have been examined by an APL veterinarian.  In turn, I had to agree to confine the cats after relocation for 2-4 weeks to ensure a successful transition to their new home. When I went to pick up my new cats on November 1st, the APL even provided the materials needed I needed for the initial transition period.

These cats were selected just for our farm.  I filled out an application and they tried to match the cats to our needs and wants and vice versa.

I received two females, Starburst, Esmerelda, and two boys Encore and Marbles.  We loaded up the back of my Terrain with all four cats in cat carriers and I set off for this new adventure.  I felt green eyes boring into my back and Encore, the big grey male especially looked at me with a rather baleful glance.  You would think I would have heard loud meows of protest all the way home, but rather, it was silence.  I tried to coo to the kitties and convince them that they would be happy in their new home. They didn’t make a sound, all the way home.

Transferring cats from the cat carrier to the cages (two females in one and two males in the other) was the hard part.  One cage had an opening about 4″ and Starburst slid right out of it and was free.  I plugged the hole, but that was too late for Starbursts escape and while quite upset, I was later calmed when we saw her about the place.  There we made it home all safe and sound and I got her from one enclosure to another without mishap and out she went.

As the days went by, my daughter Allie, (who loves, loves cats) and I changed litter, watered and fed the cats. Esmerelda is friendly she let us take her out and pet her and then quite unhappily put her back in the cage.  The boys just crowded together and looked at me like I was an evil ruler of some terrorist domain, but besides a baleful glance and one hiss from Marbles, they remained in place.  I took the advice, “DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HANDLE UNSOCIALIZED CATS” seriously, so I just admired their beauty and stoic reserve from the cage view!

It helped knowing that they are not pets, but working animals that need to roam and have a safe place to stay when the boys and Starburst who was roaming the farm, but not responding to my “kitty, kitty” calls regarded me with disdain.

This program is a wonderful one matching farms like ours providing two needs, a home for the cats and rodent control for the farms.  The cats help control mice, rats, snakes and other pests, all ones I can honestly say, “I don’t want”.

Sarah Moore explained, “Cats will no longer be euthanized simply because they’re feral.  Now they can be transferred to safe out-door homes better suited to the lifestyle they’re used to.”

I hope they stay, there is a 75% chance they will.  Starburst has already settled in, she has been here for two weeks and we have seen her darting about.  After being released, I saw Marbles hiding out in the front yard.  I walked up to him and he buried his black body in the grass flattening himself as low as he could get.  I loved seeing the tips of his black ears above the green grass.  He soon sprung up and away, around the house.

Hopefully all four of the cats and my family will live in harmony and  have a long happy working relationship!  I’ll feed and water and offer a clean warm shed to stay in and they can help keep us rodent free!  If you would like information about the program, call 217-789-7729 or email them at barncats@apl-shelter.org.

 

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