Barn Cat Program Saves Feral Lives

Our Community Cat team knows that feral cats should always be returned to their familiar territories after they have been spayed/neutered and rabies vaccinated. Truly feral cats aren’t socialized to humans and can’t live happy, healthy lives indoors like typical house cats.

Click here to learn 10 ways our Community Cat program helps cats. 

“It’s important for them to go back to where they came from because that is what they know,” says Eric Phelps, Brother Wolf’s Community Cat Manager.

“That’s their home, and they’re very bonded to that area. They know where all of the predators are, they know where to find food and water, and they have access to shelter. When you take them out of the only area they’ve ever known and try to put them into an unfamiliar one, it creates a very unsafe scenario for them.”

Sometimes though, returning a cat isn’t safe for whatever reason, and in those cases we have no other option than to rehome them. “Rehoming is always, always the absolute last option on the table,” Eric says. “It’s not something we do on a regular basis or encourage anyone to do to feral cats.” Most of the feral cats we rehome come to us from the county shelter, where they’d be euthanized without our intervention.

Our barn cat program helps find outdoor homes for displaced feral cats. We never place friendly, social cats as barn cats. Instead, we place the ones who don’t have the option of being adopted otherwise.

While the process and experience aren’t the same as adopting a socialized indoor cat, Eric says “the thing to remember about barn cats is that they are just cats. They may be semi-social or completely feral, but ultimately they are just cats and they have the exact same needs that other cats do: food, water, shelter, and medical care.”

When we move a barn cat to their new location, we require that they be crated or otherwise isolated on the property for 30 days before they’re released. “The isolation period gives them time to get acclimated to the new sights, sounds, and smells of the new property and allows them to bond to the new location,” Eric says.

Despite the name of the program, you don’t have to have a barn and a large plot of property in order to get a barn cat placed at your home.

“While it’s ideal for the cats to live on several acres and have some outbuildings to hide in or under,” Eric says, “there are other situations that work well too. If neighbors are nearby, it’s important to make sure they’re okay with having outdoor cats that may cross over onto their property. We certainly don’t want to put a barn cat into a position where they may encounter dangers from a disgruntled neighbor. We can place barn cats pretty much anywhere as long as neighbors are on board with it.”

“Most often, the people who want barn cats are those who are looking to get rid of some type of rodent, like mice or voles. Or they at least want to put the word out to smaller animals on the property that they aren’t welcome,” he says. “But we also get requests from people who just love cats but can’t have one inside their home for whatever reason– maybe a family member is allergic or they have a dog who doesn’t get along with cats. Those are great situations. When people understand cats and just want to provide a safe space, those are the folks that I absolutely love working with.”

Brother Wolf doesn’t have the resources to house feral cats long term, so we always need safe places for them to land when they come to us. Do you have room for a barn cat or two? Give Eric a call at (828) 301-3377. A home visit will be required before cats are placed, to ensure a safe and healthy environment.

All barn cats are spayed or neutered, ear tipped, and rabies vaccinated. We do not charge an adoption fee for barn cats, but donations are always appreciated.

Our Community Cat program works with local citizens to vaccinate, spay, and neuter outdoor cats so that they can no longer reproduce. Volunteers then maintain colonies with  feeding and general care so that the cats can live out their lives in their outdoor homes where feral cats are happiest and safest. We assist colony caretakers with free cat food, neighbor mediation and colony care counseling, and winter shelter. Email for more information.


DONATE – Monthly donors help keep us best prepared year-round for animal rescue. With your help, we can continue to save and care for the animals who need us most. Recurring donations provide a consistent, reliable revenue stream, allowing us to focus more resources on our lifesaving programs, and less on fundraising. For our 10 year anniversary, help us grow our circle of compassion by welcoming 1,000 new members! Click here to join the Compassionate Circle today! The next 200 new members will receive a beautiful ceramic mug etched with our 10 Year Anniversary logo! Or click here to donate directly to our Community Cat program.

VOLUNTEER or FOSTER – Volunteers and fosters are Brother Wolf’s backbone. Do you want to learn to trap feral cats with our Community Cat Program? Are you a social butterfly who can help at one of our weekly adoption events? Do you have space in your home and heart for a temporary semi-feral cat who needs some time to learn how to trust humans? Email!

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