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Working cat program 

Working Cats – For Hire


What do Working cats, Barn cats and Garden cats all have in common? They are all cats that prefer not to engage socially with humans. Sometimes described as feral or semi-feral, these cats missed out on the critical human interaction needed by 2-3 months of age, and therefore have not been domesticated. Without this interaction, kittens start becoming fearful of people and the older they become, the less friendly they tend to be. Sometimes people find kittens around 2-3 months of age and try to domesticate them with varying results; cats will tolerate people to an extent but may never be lap cats. These cats are not dangerous, they are just misunderstood.


Cats have high prey drives in general and are an excellent solution for controlling rodent populations. Semi-feral and feral cats are more independent and often thrive in non-traditional settings such as barns, vineyards, gardens, workshops, or warehouses. That’s why they do great as Working Cats. Consider them organic pest control.


It is still important to understand that while they can help with pest control on your property, they still need to be provided with food, water, shelter, and medical care when necessary. Working cats need to be provided with safe outdoor spaces in which to live out their natural lives.


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  • How much will this cost me?
    No, there is no cost to adopt working cats, but donations to help us support the program are welcomed. You will be responsible for providing the cats with fresh food, water, shelter, and veterinary care as needed.
  • How can a cat become a working cat?
    Hayward Animal Services Bureau recommends and supports the trapping, neutering, vaccinating and returning of cats to their known communities. Sometimes returning a cat to its known community is not an option for various reasons and these cats may end up in the shelter. Cats evaluated in the shelter and determined to be semi-feral or feral are not companion animal adoption candidates. Historically, the outcome for these cats would be humane euthanasia. Instead, these cats can be hired (adopted) and given jobs as working cats. All they ask in return is food, care, and a safe place to live.
  • Why do I have to adopt two cats?
    Working cats are adopted in pairs. This will be less traumatic for the cats and help them to adjust to their new home easier having the security of one or more trusted companions. Hayward Animal Services Bureau will select cats that have formed a bond or at least get along with each other and have been co-housed together.
  • If I adopt a working cat, will they be able to have babies? Are they vaccinated?
    Prior to placement, working cats are: · Spayed or neutered · Given their FVRCP (distemper combo) and Rabies vaccinations · Dewormed · Treated for fleas · Microchipped · Ear tipped. Ear-tipping is a universal indicator that a community cat has been spayed or neutered
  • Why should I adopt a working cat?
    There are many reasons why a working cat would be a great asset, here are just some of the perks · Organic pest control · They can be low maintenance · They are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and eat tipped · Adoption fee is waived. · And most importantly, it saves lives
  • If the cats catch mice, why do they need me to feed them?
    Cats have high prey drives in general and are an excellent solution for controlling rodent populations, but the fact is that not all cats eat mice. Some cats are just in it for the thrill of the hunt. Cats still need to be provided with food and water.
  • What do the cats need when I take them home?
    Cats must be provided time to acclimate and familiarize themselves with their new environment and their new caregivers in a safe and secure space for a minimum of 4 weeks. This 4-week acclimation period is critical for their success and yours. Cats that are released too early or accidently escape may not stick around. This can be dangerous for the cat, and traumatic for the caregiver, who has usually put a lot of time, energy and care into the cat. A safe and secure acclimation space is usually an extra-large wire dog crate or an escape proof room or shed. Inside the secure space you must provide the cats with; a litter box, dry food and fresh water at all times, a small amount of canned food, and a small carrier or box to hide in. It is also recommended that a portion of the crate be covered with a sheet. This will allow the cats to feel more protected and hidden.
  • Can I get a friendly cat that I can pet?
    Friendly, sociable cats are better suited for traditional adoption as companion cats. Working cats are not social and have no desire to be your “friend.” Working cats are semi-feral or feral cats that otherwise have no other adoption options. Overtime, your working cat may develop enough trust to allow you to pet it. Some people adopting working cats don’t care having cats that they will never be able to touch, while others may like to develop a relationship with their cats over time. During the adoption process, we will try to identify your preference to match you with cats that may be good fits based on their in-shelter behavior evaluations.
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Check out the links below to see other agencies working cat setup/ guidelines 

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