While surfing Craigslist for potential mouse patrol recruits, i found a listing by a group called Barn Cats R Us. It's a non-profit group whose goals are two-fold: to house the numerous feral and semi-feral cats that wind up in the shelter and to get people to try natural pest control rather than endanger their family, livestock, neighbours, and wild animals with rat poisons.
And you don't need to have a barn! These cats are availible for adoption for city-dwellers as well!
The process requires an application, interview, and assessment of your humble cat shelter offerings. In a twist of fate, the contact on the listing we followed up on was an acquaintance of Moose's--they had worked on the flooding impact meetings around our area over the last few years. So after a brief phone interview, we were "pre-approved". :) We just had to pick up our cats.
I read somewhere that in order to have a successful team for pest patrol, you needed at least 3 cats. Too few, and they are susceptible to predators. We adopted three cats, all sisters. Hopefully they will have a great time here helping us evict Mickey and Minnie! :)
Here are pictures of two of them. Cookie Monster wants to name one "Rosie". :)
On a personal note:
With all the pros that come with free, environmentally responsible, and humane pest patrol, i have found one thing i extremely disapprove of regarding barn cats. In reading about these programs, i found most of them tatoo or ear-tip (cutting off a portion of the cats' ear lobe) to identify these cats as "barn" cats. The idea is that if my barn cat shows up 3 miles down the road with a health issue and the people there take him into the vet for care, the ear-tipping lets the vet know that the animal is to be euthanised, rather than treated. Which sickens me to know end, because apparently certain cats are "worth more" than others. Why this surprises me, i have no clue, because you see it everyday in things more horrific--like the squalor-like conditions that "house" human beings from the area of town we just moved from or the Indian Reservation down the road from our new place.
Don't get me started.
With regard to the cats, however, this seems so harsh to me. Am i just overly sensitive? Just because the cats are outdoors all the time, doesn't mean i neglect my responsibility to them. I wish for them to live a long, happy life here, even if they don't trust me. We are going to work with them as much as we can to try to win them over, however even if they still distrust, they wouldn't become "expendible."
The program is great in that it helps get cats adopted that would normally be euthanised at the shelter, however since they ear-tip, i think next time i would rather find a "free kitties" post and adopt our outdoor pest management recruits that way.