PITTSFORD — The local animal shelter wants people to think outside the barn when it comes to adopting a few good mousers.
Beth Saradarian, executive director of the Rutland County Humane Society, said the shelter’s barn cat program isn’t new nor is it unique, but the shelter thinks there’s far more homes for “barn cats” than people realize.
“I think it’s just looking at it from a wider view,” said Saradarian in an interview Tuesday. “Where else can these cats make a difference for people?”
The shelter’s barn cat program is now its working cat program. Not much has changed, but the shelter wants people to be aware that cats will hunt mice and other pests in greenhouses, granaries, warehouses, nurseries and anywhere else they can be safe and sheltered.
“It was primarily focused on barns,” she said of the program. “Typically barns have rodent problems, and farmers and whoever else has a barn usually like having a couple of cats around to keep their rodent population under control.”
Unlike a housecat, there’s no adoption fee for barn cats, Saradarian said. Besides that, the adoption process is quite similar.
“We spay and neuter them, they get rabies shots, distemper shots, they go into a barn environment and they have a great life, they help the farmer with the rodent population,” Saradarian said.
People who want a working cat can get one, she said, but like any animal it puts out for adoption, questions are asked ahead of time.
“We, of course, want them to have a warm place to be, it’s got to be someplace where they’re going to be safe from the elements, where they’re going to be fed, have fresh water and be cared for,” said Saradarian.
Once the shelter knows the working cat is on its way to a good home, they work with the new owner to make sure they know how to acclimate the cat to its new surroundings. Saradarian said they aren’t just turned loose in a barn somewhere.
The shelter adopts out between 10 and 20 working cats per year, she said.
“Oftentimes, we at the shelter have cats that are not appropriate for adoption into a home environment, but could be good mousers,” she said. “They don’t necessarily like lots of love and attention like companion pets do, but they’re still lovely animals.”
The shelter doesn’t put dangerous animals into the community, she said. The working cats are friendly enough on their own terms, but do best in a barn-like environment where they can be as far or as close to people as they want.
“They’re not dangerous,” she said. “If anything they run away from people.”
Some would make fine house cats, Saradarian said, but have issues with using the litter box.
“It’s a good way for certain cats that aren’t adoptable as house pets to still have a good life and have fun hunting, which is what they like to do anyway,” she said.
Those interested in adopting a working cat, she said, should contact the shelter at 483-6700 or visit the website, www.rchsvt.org, for more information.