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Working Cats


Working Cat Program


The Working Cat Program is for cats not suited to a strictly indoor life. Working Cats would love to spend their lives helping to control rodent and pest populations at barns, farms, warehouses, wineries, garden centers, and other places of business with dedicated human caretakers. What they need in return is shelter, food, water, and care.

What is a working cat?

A working cat is a cat that is not social enough to be adopted out as a house cat but not able to be returned to their original outdoor home due to a safety or health concern. These cats are then placed up for adoption as working cats to be outdoor companions for those with barns, businesses, or any expanse of land that may need a helper hunting for mice.

Where do working cats come from?

The cats available for Working Cat adoption at the York County SPCA have experienced some hardship before reaching this point. These are cats that were originally brought in through our SNR (shelter, neuter, return) program due to illness or injury and are unable to return to their original outdoor home due to health or safety concerns. This could be anything from a neighbor threatening harm to a chronic illness that requires the cat to have a caretaker. We nurse these cats back to health, make sure they are spayed/ neutered, ear-tip them as a universal indicator of being altered, provide a rabies vaccine, and microchip them. The cat then waits here at the shelter until we can find them a Working Cat placement.

Can I get a working cat?

The first step to getting a working cat is to complete an application.

Anyone can adopt a working cat that is looking for an outside cat companion and has an adequate shelter they can call ‘home base’. These types of shelters include barns, sheds, warehouses, shops, greenhouses, and almost anywhere the cat can have access to get fully away from the outdoors and be a spot to receive daily food and fresh water. If you have a neighbor close by you may want to discuss with them first that you are considering adopting a working cat, so they are not surprised if they see a new cat roaming the area. We suggest adopting working cats in multiples as it will be easier for the cat to adjust to their new environment with a companion.

There are no fees to adopt a working cat and they are spayed/ neutered, ear-tipped, rabies vaccinated, and microchipped before they go home.

Can I have a meet and greet with the working cats before taking one home?

We do not conduct meets and greets for working cat candidates as they are not social house cats. This means they would not do well in a typical meet and greet setting and would cause unnecessary stress to the cat. During the working cat adoption process, we give you basic details and photos of eligible cats for you to choose from.

How do I make sure the cat doesn’t run away as soon as I take it home?

The acclimation process for working cats can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks. The longer the cat is quarantined the better the chances are that they will not disappear from your property when released. During the 2–6 week acclimation period, the cat should be confined to an area that will be their home base. This could be a room in a barn, a shed, a large dog crate, etc. You will be responsible for feeding the cat on a daily basis and cleaning the litter box. This also helps the cat to associate you with food and not to perceive you as a threat. The acclimation period ensures that once the cat is released from their quarantine area, they will spend the majority of their time in the area that has become familiar to them over that time period. If you need help setting up an adequate quarantine area the YCSPCA can deliver the working cats to your home and help set you up for success.

Check out our Working Cat Success Stories!