Two years ago the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) launched an innovative program designed to help solve three societal problems: shelter killing, feral cats and rodent infestation.
In a perfect world, all cats would have a loving home. Unfortunately, unaltered cats permitted to roam freely either become feral or produce feral offspring. Feral cats are wild and cannot be turned into house pets. When feral cats end up in shelters, they have little hope of coming out alive. Rather than kill feral cats, YHS promotes reducing their population through a process called TNR (trap/neuter/return).
For feral cats who find their way into the Yavapai Humane Society we've created the Barn Cat program to help save their lives - and we do that by putting them to work.
Through the Barn Cat program, feral cats are spayed and neutered and released into areas where they can do what they do best: prevent an overpopulation of rodents. Their reputation as stealthy and successful exterminators is well known and many homeowners and businesses rely on cats as a "green" rat abatement program.
Sadly, YHS recently rescued two dogs exposed to rat poison; one we were able to save, the other succumbed despite our best efforts. One benefit of the Barn Cat program is that it keeps rodents in check without toxic pest control chemicals that are dangerous to pets, wildlife and children.
The program also helps improve public health. Rodents carry many diseases including plague, leptospirosis, hantavirus, murine typhus, rat bite fever, salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium, and eosinophilic meningitis.
The beauty of barn cats is that rodents flee the area when these cats make their presence known. These sleek legends of grace and beauty give off an odor through their paws as they prowl. Once rodents get a whiff of feline, they vacate the premises.
Less grisly and more effective than glue traps, cats go about their "work" naturally. They prowl, they eat and they sit in the sun; although they prefer to spend much of their time hiding.
YHS barn cats are spayed or neutered so they don't contribute to the feral cat population. They are vaccinated so they help mitigate cat diseases in our community. They are microchipped so they can be returned to their owner should they end up in a shelter, and they are ear-tipped (under anesthesia while the cats are being altered; veterinarians notch an ear, which is the widely recognized sign that a feral cat is altered). All this for just $30 per cat.
When YHS Barn Cats are "employed," they are transported in large wire cages where they are housed for about a month at their new location. This process is called recolonizing. It takes about 30 days for a barn cat to be comfortable enough to consider their new environs home. YHS will help you colonize your barn cat and teach you how to care for them. YHS provides the cage for a refundable deposit.
Barn cats can be put in any safe area - businesses, hotels, industrial parks, residences, and of course, barns. If you are interested in participating in this cost-effective, humane rat abatement program, call YHS to be added to the barn cat list. You will be contacted when your barn cat is ready for you.
If you don't have a rodent problem but love cats and would like to help fund this non-lethal, humane program, please make a donation to YHS and specify "Barn Cat program."
For more information on feral cats visit www.yavapaihumane.org/felix. For more information on the YHS barn cat program or to place an order for your barn cat, call 515-2379.
Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.