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Barn Cat Program

As much as we would like to have every single cat in loving homes with couches of their own, we are also realistic and know that some prefer the wilderness and no rules. We do not believe in forcing every cat to live in a home, as that could be considered cruel and unusual punishment for those feral cats that have the luck of being caught as strays. So if you have a need for working cats or community cats, there are cats that need you!

About HSNWIA's Barn Cat Program

Hundreds of outdoor, un-socialized cats enter shelters every year. All of these cats will never be able to be adopted as indoor, well-socialized pets. Many of these cats were found as strays. They may be feral, semi-feral, or cats that have other behavior issues that may make them "unadoptable" and unsuitable as indoor pets. 

The Humane Society of Northwest Iowa created the Barn Cat Program to give these cats a  second chance. Without barn adopters, they have nowhere else to go. These cats are healthy, and in return for a safe and comfortable environment, they can become a working cats in your barn!

These cats require minimal care and provide a great service as they are a natural deterrent to mice, moles, and barn vermin. Participating in the barn cat program and adopting one of these kiddos is a great solution for folks who love cats but cannot have them indoors due to allergies!

HSNWIA will provide the following for all Barn Cat candidates:

  • The cats will appear to be in good health and have an initial vet exam

  • The cats will be spayed or neutered prior to placement

  • The cats will have current vaccinations

What is required and how to begin the Barn Cat adoption process:

  • You must be willing and able to proved a safe environment and protection against the elements. Cats will need to have a means to escape from natural predators such as dogs and coyotes. Locations that can work for these stipulations are as follows, but not limited to: barns, stables, industrial facilities, warehouses, sheds, etc.

  • A consistent supply of food and fresh water

  • A commitment to monitor them and provide for their safety and well being as needed

  • To begin the adoption process, submit a Barn Cat Program adoption application, indicating your interest

Thank you for your interest in adopting a barn cat, they deserve good homes and love, too!

Relocating Barn Cats

Once the cats arrive at their new location, it may be necessary to keep some of them crated individually for several days to a couple of weeks if, for example, they are still recovering from surgery or they need regular doses of medication. HSNWIA does require newly adopted Barn Cats to be confined for a minimum of two weeks to ensure the new cat has time to adjust to the new environment.


Most, however, can be housed together in a large enclosed or cased area for two to four weeks while they become familiar with their new environment. They can be released into a closed barn, shed, or another large shelter, such as an unused chicken coop or covered dog pen. The idea is to give them enough room to become familiar with their new home without permitting them free access to the outdoors.


Keep in mind that cats can be escape artists, especially when they are stressed. During their acclimation period, make absolutely sure that the cats cannot escape from their enclosure or become injured while trying to do so. Some cats will even try to dig out of an enclosure, so be sure the bottom is secure. In addition, provide smaller shelters within the larger shelter or enclosure to give the cats a safe place to hide while caregivers are feeding and cleaning, and while other humans are in the area.

It’s important for the cats to come to regard this enclosure as their permanent feeding station before they are permitted to roam freely outside. Feed the cats canned food at least once a day, and always at the same time; regular feeding will help them to realize that they have a reliable food source and stick around. Always have dry food and water available for the cats.


During the cats’ confinement period, the new caregiver must regularly visit the cats to ensure the bonding that is essential for a successful relocation. Speaking to the cats, even if they remain hidden, helps them to overcome their fear of humans. After their two to four-week confinement period, the cats can be given access to the outdoors. A small opening should be provided so they may come and go whenever they want. After the cats have acclimated to their new surroundings, the enclosure can be removed if desired. 

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