Kids & Pets
August 6, 2020
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Relocating ferals or working cats

By: Mickey Zeldes
November 22, 2019

People are always amazed when we talk to them about the process for relocating feral cats.  They often assume since they are “wild” animals that they could just be plopped down in a new area and they would adapt.  What people don’t realize is, that often fails.  If a cat isn’t familiar with an area and knows that there is not a regular food source there, they won’t stick around.  This especially applies if there are already a few cats on the property that might chase them off. 

The same is true if you bring home a new pet cat.  Before you ever let them outdoors (if you are going to expose them to those risks) they need to ‘own’ their new home territory.   And that happens with 4-6 weeks of consistent feeding and allowing them that time to get acquainted with the sounds, sights and smells of the new area.  So newly adopted pet cats need to be kept strictly indoors for a month or more before being allowed in the yard with you supervising.  It helps if during that month you not only get them used to a feeding schedule but add a voice command or call to it so that if they disappear outside you have an established call to try and lure them back in.

So how do you do that with a feral cat that is being relocated to a barn or vineyard?  They have to be caged in a safe area for a month or more!  The caretaker establishes a feeding schedule and a call.  We’ve all seen YouTube videos of feeders showing up in some remote area, calling their cats and watching in amazement as cats flow out of nowhere to get their share of the food.  So, you ask, how many people have cages sitting around to do that?  Well, we are lucky in this county that we have a fabulous TNR (trap, neuter, release) organization called Forgotten Felines to help.  They not only offer weekly spay/neuter clinics so that the feral population doesn’t keep increasing, but they will also work with anyone willing to take a feral (or working cat, as they are now called) or two onto their property to help with rodent control.

Forgotten Felines will go out and assess your property, loan you a cage, help you set it up properly and show you how to feed the cat and clean without having him escape.  They have a list of cats awaiting outdoor placements so if you are in a position to provide a safe area for two or more of these working cats, please contact them at 576-7999.  There are two types of cats looking for outdoor placements.  A small percentage are friendly enough to live near humans but for one behavior reason or another, often a litterbox issue, they can’t be placed in a home.  The others are truly wild and want nothing to do with humans but would be willing to work for their daily meal.  They can help keep barns, warehouses and vineyards rodent free in return for a daily ration of kibble.  Seems like a great deal and it’s environmentally better than using rat poisons or inhumane traps.

We get these unadoptable cats from time to time and work with Forgotten Felines to help them find an appropriate placement.  Knowing that most people don’t have the equipment or knowledge on how to introduce a cat into a new territory it is wonderful to have the assistance of this agency!


Upcoming Events

“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home.  FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati.  No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed. 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30.


Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents.  Call 588-3531 for an appointment. 


Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at