The P.E.I. Humane Society is offering up a new form of pest control for Island farmers — one with four paws and a tail.
The society's Barn Buddies program is connecting cats that are not suitable for home adoptions with people who need help keeping rodents out of their barns, gardens or nurseries.
These so-called "mousers" get shelter and food in exchange for their services.
Ashley MacLeod, development and communications co-ordinator for the P.E.I. Humane Society, said the program is designed to help find homes for cats who need a less structured environment.
"Some cats are just born mousers and they're born to be in a barn," said MacLeod.
"They maybe have higher energy or they're not as personable as house cats would normally be, but they'd be great assets to any farm."
Program fills 'tremendous need'
MacLeod said when a cat comes to the society, a behavioural assessment is conducted. They look at the cat's personality. Perhaps the feline enjoys chasing toys, but doesn't like being handled.
"Just like us, they have different personalities, different needs in their lives," she said. "They're not necessarily friends. They're not necessarily an animal you can snuggle up with."
There is a "tremendous need" for barn cats, said MacLeod. She said there are a lot of people with larger properties and barns and they need help with vermin control.
She said these cats otherwise likely would not have found a placement.
"A lot of these cats, they're not feral, but they have personalities that wouldn't allow them to be kept in a home," she said.
"They're difficult animals to place, so having a cat come into your life that doesn't require a roof over its head in the same way as a house cat — [that] is really suitable for these animals and really suitable for the people looking for them."
The Barn Buddies program is already up and running at other locations across Canada. The P.E.I. version launched about two months ago has already placed more than a dozen cats for a fee of $45 each.
There are currently two Barn Buddies available: a six-year-old orange and white cat named Ernest and a five-year-old white and grey cat named Brock.
MacLeod said the program epitomizes the humane society's mandate.
"We love seeing animals find success and we love finding animals new homes," she said.
"This program has provided us with a great opportunity to make sure more Island animals are finding success in Island homes."
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