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Barn cat program aims to let feral kitties earn their 'keep'

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​The Animal Shelter has come across a novel way to find new homes for feral cats.

These wild cats are virtually unadoptable to the public in general, so many of them have to be put down to make room in the shelter. Now, the shelter is offering the untamed and incorrigible felines as so-called barn cats for businesses and rural sites where the cats can earn a decent living ridding barns and warehouses of rodents.

When someone has a need to “hire” some barn cats, the shelter will spay-neuter and vaccinate a small squad of recently arrived feral cats and get them ready to go to work. Their ears are notched so that if they run off and are recaptured, animal control officer will know they’ve had their shots and are at no risk of multiplying or spreading disease.

Donations to help cover neutering and shots are greatly appreciated but not required.

The county’s Public Works Department recently hired four feral cats to come work their equipment barn that sees heavy increases of rats when farmers plow adjacent fields.

The idea is, if even two of the cats stick around, their rat problems may dwindle considerably, and the cats have a safe place to come and go. 

A week into the trial, Tammi Benners, office coordinator at Public Works, says their new recruits are staying around, though the one female, Annabelle, is the only one who’ll show herself to visitors. 

Misty Brown, shelter manager, reminds folks that “these cats aren’t your typical cuddly kittens. It’s best they’re left alone to do their own thing. They are not house pets.”

If you know of anyone who could use some extra paws around the shed or barn, ask them to call Collin County Animal Services  at 972-547-7292.