Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Day Devoted to Our Barn Cat and Backyard Buddy Program!

Our “Barn Cat and Backyard Buddy Program” has really gained momentum in 2016! Community Cat Coordinator Patty and her Trap Neuter Return volunteers’ public outreach efforts have helped shed light on this life-saving program, and within the first six months of 2016, 54 cats have been placed in barn homes!

Now, what constitutes a barn cat or backyard buddy you ask? These under-social cats are ones who cannot be placed in a traditional home environment. They’re used to the outdoor lifestyle, and often, are terribly scared and shut down around people.

Through the Trap/Neuter program,  Patty and her volunteers are able to identify these Barn Cat and Backyard Buddy candidates, trap, neuter and vaccinate them, then place them in a barn, other rural settings,  or urban backyards. Supplied with food and water,  a safe place to sleep and protection from the elements,  these cats live out their days on their own terms, flourishing as permanent pest controllers. Although they rarely tolerate human contact, many eventually become a distant, friendly presence.

Much time, thought and care is put into the placement and well-being of this special population of cats. Patty is really great at talking to people, assessing the situation, and she has great directions for acclimating these cats gradually.  She makes suggestions for modifications that can be made for the cats and then follows up to see how they are doing.

Here are a couple of Barn Cat and Backyard Buddy success stories:

Sue, a friend of the program and IBKC, had a neighbor with a bit of a rodent problem in their yard. Within a few days of learning this, Patty, working in partnership with the caregiver, set up the household with these dashing specimens, who while not totally wild, are definitely not social enough to be companion cats. So not only is the rodent population being managed, but this pair can now thrive in that which they are already familiar.

Monica, another barn cat caretaker is also thrilled to be a part of it all:

 “This is one of our new barn cats, Brutus, who we got from the Tacoma Humane Society. This is an awesome program and they (helped with) the supplies we needed to transition our cats to the horse barn. Love this program and highly recommend it!”

Big boy Brutus is living the dream in a barn with another companion cat, while he keeps the barn rodent free and entertains his caregivers.

All of what we raise today will go towards the Barn Cat and Backyard Buddy program.

Funds raised for this program will be used to buy traps, trap covers, canned food, offset transportation costs, pay for spaying or neutering, flea and ear mite treatment, vaccines, and microchips. Often the males have bite wounds from fighting and need antibiotics, and minor treatment - our donations will help these cats get healthier before they are placed in their barn or backyard.

This translates to $26 a day per cat. Our Barn Cats and Backyard Buddies are with us an average of three weeks before placement, which means about $546 to care each for these animals.

I love that this program exists and that Patty and her volunteers are out there in the field working so hard for these cats.  The fact that our HS has this program, and is able to address the needs of this population of cats, says so much about where we are as a shelter.

Because we're able to spay and neuter these cats before placing them, it is reducing the numbers of kittens flowing into the shelter each spring.  And when there's a few number of litters coming in,  there are more resources available to help all the cats: neonates, foster kittens, mama cats, adult cats, special needs cats, senior cats, and more community cats, too!   It's a beautiful cycle.

Our Awesome Anonymous Donor wants to support this great program,  so she's offering up a very generous $5000 matching donation challenge! She'll be matching each dollar we donate until we reach the $5000 cap, or until 7:00 PM Pacific Time, which ever comes first.

Thank you, Awesome Anonymous Donor, for offering up this huge match for this incredible program!

To help support the Barn Cat and Backyard Buddy program and get your dollars matched, please visit our Firstgiving Page and make a tax-deductible donation.

We're nearing the end, Friends! We've got just THREE days of pushing towards our goal, then on Saturday we'll be walking the walk!

I've got some big matches on the calendar over the next few days,  and to hit our $100,000 goal, we're going to have to meet every single penny of each match!  It's going to take some pushing and a whole lot of work, but I am confident we have it in us.  We can do this!

Thank you all so much for sticking around through all of this. Thank you for giving so generously and helping us spread the word.  You are amazing and I appreciate you all so much.   SUCH HUGE HEARTS in this crowd!

OK, lots to come today!!   Do stay close!



  1. I read an article earlier this week about a similar program in Chicago that was controlling an almost uncontrollable rat population (rats almost a foot tall - yikes!) The article said 600 TNR cats had been placed in the last few years. What a fantastic program, and an environmentally safe way to control rodent populations!

  2. It's always exciting to learn of similar programs in other communities!

  3. About 9 months after I had to give up my kitty, I read an article about a similar program in my area. I hope desperately that the program was already in place and that my kitty went to a nice farm somewhere nearby. I had to give her up because she wouldn't use the litter box consistently and she didn't really like anyone but me (calico + a roommate who provoked her) and I was moving into a housemate situation where the homeowner wouldn't allow her with me for those reasons. I'll never know, of course, I signed a bunch of paperwork agreeing to nondisclosure of where she ended up... But I really really hope that's where she went. I'm not able to participate in the fundraising, unfortunately, but this would be the day I would participate in if I could. This is such a great program for giving cats who would otherwise be put down a chance.

  4. I also read the article recently about the Chicago "Cats at Work" program and what I was surprised to find out is that it is not actually the cat's ability to catch rodents that helps decrease the rodent population the most, it is the cat pheromones that warn prey that there is a fearsome predator around and they should really just leave. That is why they should always have a source of food provided, because they will still do their job even if their bellies are full!

  5. I love this idea, and when I read about Patty last year I was so impressed!

    And such a fabulous match. Thanks so much anonymous donor!




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