Regional Animal Services of King County is joining with animal organizations nationwide in an effort to change the image of feral cats.
October 16 is National Feral Cat Day, an annual event started by Alley Cat Allies in 2001 to raise awareness of the plight of these animals, and build support for humane solutions to dealing with them.
"While the best place for a cat is indoors with a loving family, that's not always possible for cats that aren't used to living with people," said Dr. Gene Mueller, manager of RASKC. "Fortunately, Regional Animal Services works with volunteers and community organizations to trap, spay or neuter, and place these cats where they can live out their lives as working cats."
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RASKC says they are working to turn feral cats into working cats is through the "Barn Cats R Us" program. The volunteer-led effort rehomes outdoor cats to barns and garages, as well as local businesses, where they work as rodent hunters.
"Outdoor cats provide totally natural, organic mouse and rat control," added Dr. Mueller. "Barn cats tend to hide from humans, and except for the occasional dead rodent they leave behind, you'll rarely see any evidence of them."
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Along with rural barns and garages, Barn Cats R Us has rehomed feral cats to a local golf course, a winery, plant nurseries, and a King County water treatment plant. The cats are placed in small colonies, usually in groups of three or four. All of the cats have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, ear-tipped for identification, and have been tested for feline diseases.
There is no charge for this service, and volunteers are available to assist with placing barn cats. For more information, email BarnCatsRUs@gmail.com or call RASKC at 206-296-7387.
In addition to the barn cats program, RASKC also works with South County Cats, Puget Sound Working Cats, Pasado's Safe Haven, Northwest Spay and Neuter Center, and the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project to save the lives of feral cats through Trap-Neuter-Return programs, spay/neuter services to reduce unwanted litters, and efforts to find homes for adoptable cats.
For more information about National Feral Cat Day, see www.alleycat.org/NFCD. To learn more about Barn Cats R Us, visit www.kingcounty.gov/pets and click on "Special Programs and Services."