A “working cat” refers to a feral cat that is cared for (fed, sheltered, provided with medical care) by someone in exchange for the cat’s natural brand of pest control. Working Cats Programs grew out of TNR programs to provide the best option for unsocialized cats who had been trapped and sterilized but could not be returned to their original locations due to any number of reasons, such as the area being or having become unsafe for a cat to live. In such situations, rescues will hold onto the cats and put them up for adoption. These cats are not suited to be typical pets that live indoors and are handled often, but the people who adopt them are looking more for a partner than a pet.
Alley Cat Rescue has operated a Working Cats Program as a last resort for feral cats who could not stay in their outdoor homes. To date, we have helped 4,500 feral and semi-feral cats in seven states through our Working Cats Program. In one case, when the authorities of Riverside State Park refused to allow the 10 colonies living there to remain on the land, ACR relocated them as working cats. Although relocation is not our preference for any cat, in some situations such as this one there are no safe alternatives.
Over time, we have been happy to see more independent Working Cats Programs forming and county and city Working Cat Programs popping up around the country! One well-publicised program in Chicago has released 1,000 cats throughout the city to control a serious rat problem. Similar programs have already proven successful in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and New York City.
A list of Working Cats programs by state can be found at saveacat.org/shelters-with-working-cat-programs.html.
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.