The RSPCA has launched a new campaign in the South West to re-home its nervous, outdoors cats.

The project aims to find homes for farm cats and other felines who need less human interaction than a typical domestic cat – and who would rather be outside exploring than curled up on someone’s lap.

Farm cats are often nervous around people but still need someone to provide food, water, shelter and veterinary care when needed, says the RSPCA. As the name suggests, they would most likely be best suited to a farm, smallholding, or riding stables but some who’ve been in the charity’s care have even found quirky homes such as a model village, an orchard and a gazebo company.

Potential owners don’t necessarily need to have a farm or riding stable to rehome a cat who enjoys the great outdoors, the charity is looking for homes of all different types to match the variety of different cats we have.

The RSPCA rehomes over 20,000 cats a year and this work continued during the pandemic: 18,274 cats were rehomed in 2020.

A recent survey carried out found that 90% of RSPCA centres and branches find it harder to find suitable homes for outdoorsy cats than other, more sociable, cats.

Alice Potter, RSPCA’s cat welfare expert, said: “One of the most interesting things about cats is just how varied each of them are. No one set home is going to fit all cats. Cats’ personalities are a varied spectrum with an affectionate, lap cat, an ‘inbetweener’ cat who needs less but still some interaction, and all the way to a feral cat who will happily live independently from humans.

"There are all sorts of reasons why some cats need this type of lifestyle. They may have lived for a long time as a stray and aren’t familiar or comfortable being close to people or it may relate to their early experiences or genetics. Whatever the reason, we try to find the perfect home for them.

“Many people think of a cat curled up on the sofa, popping in and out of the cat flap for fuss but actually the kind of cats we’re talking about here may never come inside the home, they may never come for fuss but they need someone to look out for them and provide them with year-round shelter such as a shed, barn, stable or even a treehouse where they can sleep at night. They’ll also need constant access to water, to be fed daily and to receive veterinary care whenever needed.”

How to adopt a Farm Cat

Taking on a farm cat gives them a second chance in the type of home where they can live their best life. Seeing them roaming free, dozing in the sun and exploring to their heart’s content can be really rewarding.

All the cats will be in good health, neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, where appropriate and treated for fleas and worms.

The minimum requirement for an adopter will be to provide a weatherproofed shelter, food and water at least daily and to keep an eye on the health of the cat and seek veterinary help when needed. They will also need access to land to roam, and vegetation such as woodland, fields or gardens.

As well as hoping to find homes for cats currently in their care, many RSPCA branches and centres aim to build-up a directory of potential adopters so that when a freedom feline comes into their care they can quickly rehome them without the stress of being confined in a cattery.