Cats for barns or businesses

Through our Barn and Business Cats program, Animal Humane Society places healthy cats that aren’t suitable as house pets in environments where they can flourish, working to control rat and mice populations. These cats have either proven that they will not use a litterbox appropriately, react poorly with too much handling, or simply prefer more space from humans than a home can provide. 

Barn and business cats are not house cats

Barn and Business Cats will not be successful family members in a home or a business where people would expect a high amount of direct interaction. These cats will be successful with access to the outdoors or in large spaces a farm, workshop, warehouse, or any other type of property that rodents are prone to inhabit. Barn and Business Cats are typically independent animals that prefer humans at a distance, and do not enjoy being handled.

If you’re interested in a companion cat that would be comfortable interacting with your family in a home environment, please review our listing of other adoptable cats.

Barn and business cat adoption details

  • All barn and business cats will be sterilized and ear tipped. Ear tipping — a procedure wherein the last ¼ inch of the left ear is removed with a straight-line surgical cut — is the universal sign that a cat who does not live in a home has been sterilized. This is performed during the spay/neuter surgery while the cat is under anesthesia.   
  • The nature of these cats’ behavior does not allow for visitation in our shelters. Adopters will not be allowed to visit or handle these cats prior to adoption.
  • Barns and other large spaces can often successfully house more than one cat at a time. Multiple-cat adoptions are encouraged, but not required.
  • Barn and business cat adopters must agree to provide:
    • Consistent access to warm, safe shelter like a barn or shop to provide protection from the elements
    • Food and clean water every day
    • Future medical care
    • A room or space to keep the cat confined for 2-3 weeks with a litterbox and soft places to lie down, hide, and sleep, in order to acclimate to new surroundings

Adoption fees are waived for barn and business cats, but a $22 admin fee is required at the time of adoption.

If you're interested in adopting a barn and business cat, review the adoption listing now. Adoption process details can be found on each individual animal profile.

See adoption listing for barn and business cats

Post-adoption requirements and care

Confinement period

Cats need time to adjust to new surroundings. They’ll acclimate better in new environments if introduced to smaller spaces before being allowed to roam. Confining your new barn or business cat for 2-3 weeks will help it become comfortable with its new home, while a cat allowed to roam outdoors immediately may not realize food and shelter are available — and may never return. 

To ensure your new cat remains confined, the initial shelter must have no escape routes, including holes in siding or open windows. If the shelter has escape routes, you may use a large dog kennel to contain the cat(s).

After 2-3 weeks of confinement, you can allow the cat to explore the property. Ideally, you should release the cat when the weather is clear (no rain or snow) so that they can explore in comfort. If the cat was originally housed in a crate, leave the crate in the area as a safe place to hide or sleep for at least a week. If the cat is primarily indoors or in a barn, consider offering a litter box to contain waste.

Confinement structures

A simple extra-large dog crate or large exercise pen covered with mesh wire will work well as a confinement structure if you do not have alternative options. If you choose to use a crate, a portion of it should be covered with a towel or a sheet so the cat feels more protected.

The confinement area must include:

  • A soft place for the cat to lie down and sleep. In the winter, this space can be bedded with thick towels or straw for extra warmth.
  • A litter box, cleaned daily.
  • Fresh food and water daily. During cold weather, make sure the water is refreshed frequently or a water bowl heater is used to prevent freezing.
  • Proper ventilation to prevent overheating during warmer months.

The confinement area should never be fully exposed to inclement weather, and must be sheltered from rain, snow, and full summer sun.

Integrating with other animals

Once the confinement period is over, it’s time to let your cat explore. We recommend that the first time you do this it be daylight so you can monitor for any problems. It can be overwhelming for your new cat to see the full property the first time (especially if there are dogs or other animals, people, or equipment moving around), so try to keep the property as quiet and stress-free as possible when you first open the doors.

If you have other animals on your property, your new cat (and other animals) will need time to adjust to living together. Most cats, given enough time and space, will transition into a happy coexistence with other cats, dogs, and even farm animals (or tractors and forklifts)! If you have other cats, let them work out their differences — sometimes cats need to make noise or scuffle a little to learn their place in the social order, and this is normal behavior.

Post-adoption vet care

You will eventually need to capture your cat in order to safely transport them for routine veterinary care. Depending on your cat’s tolerance of being handled, it could be as simple as picking them up and putting them in a carrier, or you may need to live trap your cat in order to safely transport. Some tips to capture your cat:

  • Get them comfortable with the carrier or trap first. Put the carrier or trap near where you typically feed them. Start with the food right by the entrance and gradually move it closer to the back each day.
  • Cover the carrier or trap. Placing a dark towel over the trap, without blocking the entrance, creates a dark, hidden space.
  • Try extra smelly and tasty food in the trap. You can try jarred baby food, canned mackerel, sardines, anchovies, or cooked chicken.

DO NOT use trapping equipment that is not specifically meant for cats. You could injure or even kill a cat with alternate trapping methods.


If you have questions about our barn and business cat program or post-adoption care, please call our Pet Helpline at 952-435-7738.

For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

Contact the Pet Helpline