Working cats program is working


Finding a job can be a challenging and stressful process, even for people who are talented and personable. For hundreds of highly skilled but unsociable cats that have come to the Dumb Friends League, finding a job has been a lifesaver—literally.


Working cat Milkshake on the job (adopted by Tiffany R.)

Since 2013, more than 600 feral and semi-feral cats from our shelters have found “employment” at barns, stables and other outdoor settings through our working cats program. We receive these types of cats from various sources, including investigations cases or as transfers from partner shelters that cannot place them due to their behavior. Upon evaluation, if these cats show no desire to associate with people, we enroll them in our working cats program.

Like most shelters, the Dumb Friends League has for years advocated an indoor lifestyle for the majority of cats because it is safer and healthier than living outdoors. However, more shelters like ours are seeing the benefits of adopting out feral or unsocialized cats to caring owners who can give them a job.

“Not that long ago, unsocialized cats at our shelters would not have been candidates for adoption,” says Apryl Steele, chief operating officer for the Dumb Friends League. “There’s been a sea change in the mentality among both shelters and communities when they realize that these cats are stressed and uncomfortable living indoors, but can thrive in the world outside.”

Cats in our working cats program receive a general health exam, spay/neuter surgery, microchip ID, Felv/FIV testing, age-appropriate vaccinations and a rabies vaccination prior to adoption. Patrons adopting working cats must complete our standard adoption application and meet with an adoption counselor to find a good match, and adopters must agree to provide warm shelter, adequate food and water, and regular veterinary care to their working cats.

In fiscal year 2016, we adopted out 406 working cats—an increase of more than 250 cats over the previous year. Says Customer Care Manager Kristin Elliott, “Interest in our program is growing from adopters who prefer a healthy, well-cared-for cat that has been sterilized and vaccinated over a kitten born in a neighbor’s barn. We’ve even had people drive down from Wyoming to adopt our working cats. This program is a win-win for everyone.”

Want to adopt a working cat? Learn more and complete our online application on our working cats page or call us at (303) 751-5772.