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How to adopt a Shelter Me Inc barn cat

Elmo the barn cat
Elmo the barn cat
Julie Lovely barn family

The other day, Shelter Me Inc got an email from a rescue group in New Hampshire asking us to help them find a barn home for a young mom cat and her two sibling youngsters (about 9 months old). They are black, semi-feral, healthy, fully vetted and homeless. Although our rescue group has placed more than 130 cats in barns across Massachusetts and New Hampshire, finding barn homes is rarely easy. So, this seemed like the right moment to put out an informational alert to barns in need of 'mousers' to protect their gran and feed who, importantly, are able and willing to provide accommodations for feral cats with no else place to go. This is how the barn cat placement process works...

Shelter Me, Inc. helps other licensed rescue groups place their ‘hard-to-adopt’ cats in barns. The “barn” cats typically fall into two categories-

Strays, semi-feral, ferals. These animals do not/cannot adapt well to indoor life.

Cats that are afraid of people. Scaredy cats. They are not lap cats. They have a limited tolerance for petting.

Can individuals surrender cats with behavior problems to Shelter Me, Inc?

· Unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity to “vet” cats ourselves and can only take them in from licensed rescue groups. We have helped many different licensed rescue** organizations place their ‘unadoptable’ cats in barn homes. (Many of these groups also have their own barn cat programs.)

**Animal Rescue League of Boston; Billerica Cat Care Coalition, Charles River Alleycats; Feline Friends of NH; International Animal Rescue; Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society; MSPCA/Methuen; Scituate Animal Shelter; Standish Humane Society; Worcester Animal Rescue League.

Are the barn cats spayed/neutered?

· Yes. Cats in the barn cat program have papers that certify that they are spayed/neutered, vaccinated for distemper and rabies, and double-negative for FIV/FELV. We give these papers to the barn owners who adopt the cats to ensure they have complete medical records.

How does Shelter Me, Inc. find barns?

· The barns are not easy to find. Essentially, they find us through equine sites, through the videos on our website, and through word-of-mouth from other barn cat owners.

How we determine what cats go to which barns…

· The barn may have a cat already established on their property; if it is a male, we have found it is useful to bring in a submissive female and vice versa.

· In barns with lots of activity, we have found that young cats, especially sibling pairs or bonded pairs, seem to be able to adjust fairly well to challenging new circumstances.

· Frankly, all kinds of cats have adjusted well in our barn program – as long as they are bonded pairs (or singles that don’t like other cats). We have not had much luck with unbonded pairs.

· We specialize in finding barn homes for hard-to-adopt cats, but not cats we know to be actively aggressive toward people.

Can a barn request a specific color or age of cat?

· It never hurts to ask if we know of a coon cat that needs a barn home or an orange cat, but if someone has a very specific requirement in terms of color – we are not likely to be able to help. We are trying to save cats that have no place to go. The most important things are that they not be aggressive to people and have lived outside before. We place them in barns that have rodent problems with owners who are prepared to provide lifetime care.

What about (feral) barn kittens?

· We are always very cautious about settling kittens in a barn. Kittens require quite a bit of attention – kittens need to be fed high-protein kitten food until they are six months of age – four times a day.

· We prefer to place kittens in a barn with lots of animal traffic and humans coming and going to increase the intensity of the acclimation process. We often try to place kittens where there is an established adult cat to ‘show them the ropes,’ so to speak.

There are many more posts in our barn cat series - click any of the following titles for additional information - acclimating barn cats - releasing the cats - how to apply for a shelter me barn cat - keeping cats warm in winter - providing raccoon proof feeding - items to purchase for the acclimation cage for the barn cats

The best way to apply for a barn cat is to provide the following information via email to

Your name

Your address

Your phone number

Please describe the barn and property (Do you have a center aisle, tack room, loft?)

If you do not have a conventional barn, can you please send us a photograph?

The number and type of farm animals you have

Do you have dogs (what kind? how many?)

Are outdoor cats are already established on the property (if yes, what sexes, age and number)

Has your area had difficulty with predators? Fisher cats? Coyotes?

Where would the barn cats be acclimated and where they would shelter in the winter

Who will care for the cats?

Some facts we would like you to know:

The ‘unadoptable’ cats that we place in barns are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, test double-negative for FIV/FELV.

The veterinary costs associated with the barn cats exceed more than $100 and are typically paid for by the nonprofit groups that provide the cats to us. Shelter Me, Inc. identifies potential barn cats for each respective situation, delivers them and invests in additional costs for cages and other supplies. Although contributions are not required, a minimum donation of $100 is suggested.

All contributions to Shelter Me, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal rescue organization recognized by the IRS, are tax-deductible to the extent the law allows.


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