"Making a difference on Virginia's Northern Neck, one cat at a time"
Preparing to Receive Your New Barn Cats
Stock Up On Supplies-- Here Is Your Shopping List:
• Cat food* (feed dry food, but during the acclimation period it’s good to offer some canned food too)
• Food and Water Bowls (if possible, the water bowl should be stainless steel, ceramic or glass)
• Temporary Litter Box (if you don’t have one you can use a cardboard box lined with a plastic garbage box)
• One cardboard box with a hole in the side for each cat
• Warm bedding (hay or straw, an old sleeping bag or blankets, etc.) inside the cardboard boxes
Set Up Your Acclimation Facility: Place a temporary litter box, food and water bowls and warm bedding inside the acclimation facility. Escape cover is essential because transport from the shelter to a car is a terrifying experience for these cats, and they will likely be quite afraid and want to run and hide after being let out of their crates. Escape cover can be something that is already inside the room, such as the area underneath a work bench, a few boards or a piece of plywood propped next to a wall, or a big cardboard box with a hole cut in the side to form a kitty door.
Securely Confine Your Cats for Three Weeks: Outdoor cats need to be confined in a secure area for three weeks to make sure they acclimate to their new home and stay put when they are finally released. Examples of acclimation facilities include a closed barn, shed or garage, a tack room, etc. If you put the cats in a building, make sure there are no small holes the cats can squeeze their way out of. If possible, allow the cats to be able to see outside, which will make them more secure when they do get released.
Corral Your Dogs for a Couple of Days and Release Your Cats At the Right Time: If at all possible, confine your dogs for the first couple of days after you release your cats to help ensure your cats can explore the outside world without being frightened by your dogs. Release the cats during the day in dry weather so they can orient themselves visually to their new surroundings and won't have to hunker down because of rain or snow.
Provide Permanent Warm Shelter: Outdoor cats need a permanent form of warm, dry shelter from the elements. This can be some type of insulated container that contains warm bedding--preferably straw--placed up off the ground inside a barn loft, shed, or garage. The container should be placed where cats can jump up to it, but a predator following them can’t. If the container is inside a closed building, either install a cat door, or plan on leaving the door open so the cats can get inside whenever they want. No matter what you use for bedding, please change it once a month to ensure it stays clean and free of mold. Visit our Building Cat Shelters page for more ideas.