What is a Working Cat Program?


Feral Cat

Why adopt a working cat?

Supporting a working cat is a safe, inexpensive way to control the rodent population while providing a home for a cat who cannot be adopted out to an indoor household. There are no poisons for children and pets to get into and no need to set nasty rodent traps while employing a working cat. This environmentally friendly pest control saves money and prevents horses, livestock, and dogs from being accidentally poisoned.

A working cat is a cat that is feral or semi-feral (not friendly).  For safety reasons, an inside area (for example, a garage or shed) must be provided for the nighttime.

What kind of care do I need to provide?

  •  Provide a warm, secure, dry barn or building to protect them from the elements and predators.
  • Commit to keeping the cats confined to a large cage for approximately three weeks to acclimate them to their new environment before release.   We have detailed instructions of what this three to four week confinement period entails.
  • Provide a daily supply of dry food and fresh water – during confinement and after release.
  • Monitor and provide for the safety and well-being of the cats as their caretakers.
  • Provide licensed veterinary care in the event of a severe injury or illness.

How are cats picked for the Working Cat Program?

  • Feral cats - Cats who have lived outdoors with little to no human contact. These cats do not tolerate being handled or touched and will keep themselves hidden from humans as much as possible
  • Semi-feral cats - Cats who may have had some contact with humans early on but have since lived outdoors without much socialization. They may possibly tolerate the presence of humans but do not allow handling or being touched
  • Cats with moderate to severe litterbox issues who are unable to reside indoors

The Sacramento SPCA will not place kittens under 6 months of age as working cats, unless they are feral or semi-feral without hope of becoming socialized. We will also not place socialized, friendly cats as working cats.  In most cases, two cats will be placed at the same time.  This is necessary to ensure that the move will be less traumatic and adjustment to their new home easier if they have the security of one or more trusted companions.

What will the Sacramento SPCA provide?

  • All cats will be spayed or neutered prior to placement
  • All cats will be vaccinated against FVRCP & Rabies
  • All cats will be ear-tipped

The Sacramento SPCA will have the cats available for pick up and will provide detailed instructions on safely confining, releasing and maintaining the barn cats

How do I adopt a working cat?

Because the cats that fit into our working cat program do not do well being contained, we do not hold cats for this program.  Therefore, if you are interested in adopting barn cats you will be put on an approved wait list.  This way when we have cats that would benefit from your specific environment, we can contact you and move the cats out as quickly as possible.   This will enable the cats to spend less time at the shelter, in turn reducing the amount of stress and illness these cats are exposed to. Fill out an application here!

Is there an adoption fee?

There is no fee to adopt a working cat, although donations are always welcome.

Do you have confinement equipment rental?

 The Sacramento SPCA can loan the required equipment needed to keep the cats confined for the required time.

Equipment Necessary:

  • 2 Extra Large Dog Crates
  • Litter box with scoop
  • Food and Water bowl
  • Small cat carrier (hiding box)
  • Bed or towel that fits within the hiding box
  • Large towel or blanket to cover one end of the crate

 If adopters need to borrow any equipment listed above, a form will be signed accepting responsibility for the return of all items borrowed.  Equipment loan period is one month.