Outdoor cats are some of the hardest animals to rehome
As waiting lists overflow, the RSPCA has launched an appeal to find alternative homes for ‘farm cats’ who prefer the great outdoors.
Not every cat is cut out for a life indoors. Some prefer the freedom to roam but need the security of a safe place to sleep and someone to provide them with food, shelter and veterinary care.
Outdoor cats often need less human interaction than a typical domestic cat, sometimes making them tricker to rehome.
Jules Hudson, archaeologist, TV presenter and longtime RSPCA supporter, said: “Many outdoor cats or ‘farm cats’ as they are commonly called, are much more comfortable outside away from lots of people.
“They have often been found in difficult or challenging circumstances and can be a little nervous of humans. But despite needing their outdoor independence, these cats are still desperate for somewhere to call home where they can feel safe and secure, be fed and watered and where someone can keep an eye on them.
“It can be confusing that they are referred to as farm cats; you don’t have to live on a farm to offer an outdoor cat a home. It doesn’t matter if you live in the countryside, or a town or a city – home will be wherever you can offer it. If you are someone with an open space and think you could care for an independent cat, the RSPCA would love to hear from you.”
Every year the RSPCA rehomes over 20,000 cats, but an internal survey* showed that 90% of centres and branches find it harder to find suitable homes for outdoors-y cats than other, more sociable cats.
Sam Gaines, head of companion animals at the RSPCA, added: “There are all sorts of reasons why some cats need an outdoor lifestyle. They may have lived for a long time as a stray and aren’t familiar or comfortable being close to people or it may relate to their early experiences or genetics. Whatever the reason, we try to find the perfect home for them.
“We know that our centres and branches often struggle to find homes for our farm or outdoor cats and often one of the reasons cited is that there is a lack of awareness amongst the general public that these cats exist and that they will be much happier living an outdoors-y lifestyle.
“Many people think of a cat curled up on the sofa, popping in and out of the cat flap for fuss. But actually the kind of cats we’re talking about here may never come inside the home, they may never come for fuss but they need someone to look out for them and provide them with year-round shelter such as a shed, barn, stable or even a treehouse where they can sleep at night. They’ll also need constant access to water, to be fed at least daily and to receive veterinary care whenever needed.”
Farm cats would most likely be best suited to a farm, smallholding, or riding stables but other outdoor spaces such as a large garden with a shed and other surrounding gardens would work too. Some farm cats have found quirky homes in places such as a model village, an orchard and at a gazebo company.
“We recently adopted a cat from an RSPCA centre in Gonal, Shropshire.” Jules continued. “Frank had had a terrible time in inner city Birmingham so he was quite a nervous chap. We are lucky enough to live in a rural area with a lot of space around us, so we thought we would be perfectly placed to offer him a home.
“We actually had an old outdoor playhouse that we built years ago for my son, Jack, and this made the perfect home for Frank. Jack is totally besotted with Frank and they have become firm friends. The arrangement is perfect, Frank can wander about freely and come and interact with us if he wants to. But we are always on hand to make sure he is fed, safe and looked after.”
How to adopt a farm cat
Taking on a rescue farm cat gives them a second chance in the type of home where they can live their best life. All the cats will be in good health, neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, where appropriate and treated for fleas and worms.
The minimum requirement for an adopter will be to provide a weatherproofed shelter, food and water at least daily and to keep an eye on the health of the cat and seek veterinary help when needed. They will also need access to land to roam, and vegetation such as woodland, fields or gardens.
As well as hoping to find homes for cats currently in their care, the RSPCA are building a directory of potential adopters so that when these cats come into their care they can quickly rehome them without the stress of being confined in a cattery. Anyone interested is urged to get in touch with the charity.
Those interested can visit the RSPCA website for more information on adopting a farm cat.
People can also register their interest in becoming a farm cat adopter by completing the online form.