The Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) is accustomed to finding homes for cats where they become the pampered darlings of the household.
But the animal welfare organization hasn’t forgotten the small minority of cats that don’t fit into a home setting.
That’s why it has the Working Whiskers program.
“LAPS has had a barn cat feral cat program for quite a long time. What we’ve done though is we’ve revamped it a bit,” explained Sarah Jones, LAPS executive director.
The program is about providing cats with jobs.
“We wanted to expand the opportunity. There’s obviously a lot of barns in Langley, but there’s also a lot of opportunity for other organizations and businesses to have some kitty patrollers making sure that the mice and rats stay away,” she said.
Working Whiskers is for cats that may be too feral for a home or too feisty for most humans. The cats’ temperaments range from friendly to semi-feral.
Traditionally these sorts of cats would be classified by most people as unadoptable.
“Our program is mostly for cats that are not socialized or they might be semi-social,” she said.
LAPS does work to catch cats in colonies and find the appropriate homes if possible.
If the cats are young enough, they can often be socialized.
Other cats may be more appropriate for barn, warehouse, or other work settings where they can help with vermin control.
“We have really social cats that just have urinary issues, so their owner may have given them up because, no matter what they did, they would not use a litter box or they might inappropriately urinating. Those cats are really great for a barn that might have, you know, a lot of people through maybe an equestrian barn [so the cats can be social with people].”
There is some requirements for those wanting to take in cats through Working Whiskers.
The cats must have shelter, food, water, vet care, and supervision. They must have access to a safe room where they can readily access food, water, cleaned litter, hiding spots, and beds.
“These cats need to be acclimatized to the their new space, and they need to be sort of imprinted. So we get people to isolate them and feed them and give them sort of tips and tricks on how to build trust,” Jones said.
The cats are not left to fend for themselves.
“A lot of people think that barn cats only just live off the mice, and no, that’s not actually true,” she said. “They still need all the same things that domestic pet would – so food, water, shelter.”
People interested in taking in a working LAPS cat can download the application from the organization’s website, lapsbc.ca. LAPS works with people to match the right cat for the right job site, whether that’s a barn, stable, garage, warehouse, winery, brewery, or other kind of business environment. Jones noted that at this point, LAPS has not had any experience with bodega cats, a phenomenon in some places in the world where cats live in convenience stores or other retail settings.
The Working Whiskers cats are spayed, vaccinated, and have flea and worm treatments. They’ve had health checks and identification.
Jones said LAPS has had Working Whiskers cats adopted throughout the Fraser region.
“Generally speaking most of them do stay, and they will hang out and just enjoy a free ride and then also keep the mice at bay,” she said.