Take This Job and Love It:
Great Benefits Program with Perks for Blue Collar Working Cats
May 1, 2023
By: SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca
They’re a little too temperamental to be considered perfect, in-home, companion cats. Some are even feral. What’s to be done about these categories of cats when agencies like the SPCA Serving Erie County receive them as surrendered animals, or as part of an animal hoarding situation or other type of animal rescue or cruelty case?
For more than a decade, East Aurora-based Feral Cat FOCUS Inc. (FCF) has provided an answer for this agency and other cat welfare organizations in the state. Historically called other names such as the Adopt-A-Barn-Cat program and the Adopt-A-Working-Cat program, the Blue Collar Working Cats program now encompasses more of the varied establishments that have taken advantage of the loyal presence of these hard-working cats!
One of the founders of FCF, Edie Offhaus, says, “These are cats of various temperaments. In some cases, they are not exactly feral, but they’re unsocial. This program is a beautiful adoption alternative for these types of cats who have nowhere else to go.”
According to Offhaus, Blue Collar Working Cats have been placed in various New York State establishments including wineries, warehouses, nurseries and greenhouses, barns and stables, and more. “We place cats in all parts of Western New York, and assist agencies all over New York State, even some in the New York City area,” Offhaus states. When an organization representative calls to inquire about receiving Blue Collar Working Cats to live on the property, Offhaus says, “We conduct a thorough interview to ensure proper placement, since not all of these cats will thrive in all of these settings. We also ensure there are enough people who will take full responsibility for the care and feeding of these cats throughout their lifetime.”
Once an establishment is deemed a proper setting for specific Blue Collar Working Cats, a representative of FCF brings a minimum of two cats (some larger establishments have four or more Blue Collar Working Cats), already spayed or neutered, treated for fleas, and vaccinated by veterinarians at Operation PETS: the Spay/Neuter Clinic of WNY, Inc. for “grounding” purposes. Cats are placed in extra-large dog crates at their “new home” (when a separate, closed-off room is not available) for a three-week period, which allows them time to adapt to the different people, sights, sounds, smells, and, possibly, other animals that collectively comprise the new setting. Most importantly, they begin to recognize the voices of those who will be providing the majority of care.
“Feral Cat FOCUS provides the crates and other equipment during the three-week grounding period,” Offhaus says. “After that, as with any adoption, all care is the responsibility of the new owners.” Offhaus also remarks that, in all the years of managing this program, FCF has had very few cats that didn’t respond to the new surroundings. “Now that the quality of life has increased for the animals and they’re more content, some of them become even more social and enjoy being present around people for longer periods of time.”
To date, more than 600 establishments house a minimum of two Blue Collar Working Cats. The purpose? “Rodent control, plain and simple,” Offhaus says. “Sometimes the mere presence of Blue Collar Working Cats is enough to keep rodents away from perceived food sources or food and beverage storage areas.”
FCF is unable to accept surrenders of cats from private owners who believe their cats may not be living a high quality of life indoors, yet feel guilty about keeping them outdoors or giving them up. “What we do,” explains Offhaus, “is walk those pet owners through how to set up a Blue Collar Working Cats program right at home. We remove the misplaced guilt they may feel over not keeping a cat indoors. Not every cat can live a high-quality life indoors. So we help these people establish a Blue Collar Working Cats program right where they are; we walk them through all the steps and assist as much as possible in their imitation of our program.”
The SPCA Serving Erie County is honored to be one of the organizations with which FCF works in its Blue Collar Working Cats program. Several hundred cats who were not viable adoption candidates found new lives through FCF and this program, and the SPCA is indebted and eternally grateful to the team at FCF for dedicating so many of their resources to these special cats with high work ethics.
Organization representatives who believe Blue Collar Working Cats might be a welcome addition to their establishments are encouraged to call FCF at 1-888-902-9717 or visit the FCF website to learn more about adopting a working cat team.