Rhode Island SPCA

We speak for those who cannot speak for themselves

Barn Cat Program

How the program works:barncat


The Rhode Island SPCA is pleased to announce our Barn Search. We are looking for cat lovers who have a barn or other secure outdoor structure and are interested in adopting cats that are not suitable for life inside a home or are unhappy living inside. Cat temperaments range from unsocial to social. This program is designed to find homes for cats that have traditionally been deemed un-adoptable through our “normal” adoption procedures.

If you have a safe, warm barn/secure structure and would like to adopt barn cats, please fill out the Cat Application and specify that you want a barn cat. Then, return it by mail, email, fax, or just bring it in:

Rhode Island SPCA, Barn Search, 186 Amaral Street, Riverside, RI 02915

Email: rispca@aol.com or Fax: (401)438-8154

We are developing a waiting list of people to call when we have such cats come into our shelter.

cat in hayBarn cats benefit their caretakers! Owning a barn cat is the safest way to control the rodent population in your barn. There are no poisons for children and pets to get into and no need to set nasty traps. They will help keep rodents away from grain and food storage areas,  and you will enjoy watching the cats as well as having the satisfaction of giving them a much needed home!

Due to the nature of the program, we may not have suitable cats available immediately, but will try to fill your request as soon as possible. We will maintain a waiting list, as the number of cats available as candidates for the Barn Cat Program will fluctuate. Filling out an application is the first step to adopting. A Rhode Island SPCA staff member will contact you, at which point you will be able to sign the Adoption Contact and take them to their new home.

Cats that are placed into your barn will probably fall under these three main categories:

  • Cats whose litter box habits are not consistent enough to be an inside only cat and/or who have lived or spent most of its life outside.
  • Cats who were found as strays and who may be too independent to appreciate living in a house.
  • Cats that are shy/fearful of people and prefer the company of other cats and animals.

We will not place cats that are best suited to be house pets as barn cats and we will not place kittens under 6 months of age as barn cats, unless there is no hope of them becoming socialized enough to live in a family home.

What will you provide?

  • A warm, secure dry barn or building in which the cats can live out their lives.
  • The commitment and ability to keep the cats confined to a crate for up to 2-4 weeks to acclimate them to their new environment before release.
  • A clean litter box that is scooped and/or cleaned daily while confined.
  • A constant supply of dry food and fresh water. While confined and for a short time after release we recommend providing a small amount of canned wet food daily.
  • Monitoring and providing for the safety and well-being of the cat as its caretaker.
  • The willingness to take the cat to a veterinarian or Rhode Island SPCA when regular vaccines are due and provide veterinary care in the event of a severe injury or illness.
  • Spending time daily making verbal & safe physical contact with the cat so it can become familiar with you.

What will the Rhode Island SPCA provide?

  • All cats will appear to be in good health and have had a brief general exam by a vet.
  • All cats will be spayed and neutered prior to placement.
  • All cats will be examined and treated for fleas and worms prior to placement.barn-cats2

What is the Adoption Fee?

There is no adoption fee to give our barn cats a home but donations are greatly appreciated.

Why do they have to be confined for the first 2-4 weeks?

Cats need to be confined initially in their new home for at least two to four weeks in order to familiarize them with their new environment, so that they will remain on the premises. Even though there are instances of cats remaining when they have escaped upon arrival, this is rare and most cats will take off to never be seen again. Other than being dangerous for the cat, this can be traumatic for the caregiver who has usually put a lot of time, energy, money and care into the cat.

Some people see confinement as cruel, but a short confinement period is a very necessary part of the relocation project. Not confining the cat and having them run off could mean a far worse fate for the cat. You should know that during the first day or two, the cat may struggle to find a way out. Most cats will settle down in the crate after a few days when they realize that there is no harm in their new environment.

How are the cats confined?

The adopter should be equipped with an extra-large dog crate.  We recommend placing a smaller box inside of the crate to provide a hiding place for the cat and placing a sheet over a portion of the cage/crate. Always make sure to provide the cat with a clean litter box along with fresh food and water. Also, don’t forget to give them some toys!

In the winter, make sure that there is thick bedding to keep them warm, this can be towels, beds or straw. Additionally, the caregiver may wish to place bales of straw around the enclosure to help maintain warmth for the confined cat. During spells of freezing weather, the caregiver must be sure to give fresh water throughout the day as the cat’s water becomes frozen. For the summer, we recommend keeping the crate in the shade with a fan on to help keep them as cool as possible.

What happens after the confinement period?

It is best to close all doors and windows in the barn, open the crate door in the evening, then leave. The cat will want to explore their new surrounding all night, as they are nocturnal. By morning they will have found good hiding places, although they may prefer the security of their crate. You can ease the transition by continuing to provide food (wet food for a little while) and water after the crate is removed. Cats are territorial creatures. They will usually maintain a home base once their scent has been established, a continuous food source is provided and they feel safe.


Cats find their way home by scent and rain will wash it away. Waiting one more day will not hurt. Leave the crate up for an additional five days, so the cat can get back in if they want. After release, we hope they think of the barn as their home and decide to stay.

What if the cat does not like its new home?

They will like the regular food and water you provide. They may even begin to show affection. The key to success will be your patience while they adapt to the sights, sounds and smells of their new surroundings. Continue to speak softly to them, try hand feeding treats and leave a radio on to help them get use to humans talking and singing.


Special thank you to KITSAP Humane Society for letting us utilize their description! www.kitsap-humane.org