At the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society, we strive to find each and every animal that comes into our animal centres, a safe and loving home. Sometimes community cats end up in our centres and cannot be returned to their original colony site, for various reasons. As former street cats who are used to outdoor life, working cats are not typical indoor pets and have no desire to be lap cats. However, what they lack in social skills they make up for when it comes to keeping vermin problems under control. The Ontario SPCA believes in finding an alternative home for these cats, by giving them “jobs” as working cats!

These cats are healthy, sterilized, vaccinated, microchipped, ear tipped and in need of a new, non-traditional home environment. Some examples of these new homes we are looking for could include barns, stables, auto repair shops, woodworking shops, wineries, breweries, greenhouses/nurseries/garden centres, churches, storage facilities/warehouses. Working cats are not suited to be your typical indoor pets and, as unsocialized animals, they have no desire to be lap cats. These are working cats, former street cats who are used to outdoor life, prefer minimal to no human contact, and who will happily tend to any mouse, mole or vermin problems for the small cost of a bowl of cat food and water set out daily, as needed veterinary care and shelter in a garage, barn etc.

And because we spay/neuter these cats before they leave the Ontario SPCA, adopters never need to worry about endless litters of kittens!

Interested in adopting a working cat? Read the FAQ below and apply to adopt at the bottom of this page!

How much does it cost to adopt a working cat?

The adoption fee is waived, however, we gladly accept donations to help sustain the program. You will be responsible for ongoing veterinary care (as necessary), food, water and shelter.

*Though the adoption itself is free, we would require each working cat to go home with a feral cat winter shelter, so that the cat can be provided with a warm space during the winter months.  The cost for each shelter is $20.

What do I do when I bring the cat home?

When you bring the new cat(s) home, they will need to be confined to an escape-proof room or enclosure like a tack room, garage, or XL dog crate for 3-4 weeks while they acclimate to their new surroundings and any other working cats on the property. You will feed/water and clean the litter pan daily and provide a hiding spot during the confinement period. After this period of confinement, the cats will usually accept their new home and may be released. You will continue to provide daily food and water and allow them 24/7 access to shelter such as your barn or garage.

Are they spayed or neutered?

Yes. All working cats come spayed or neutered, current on vaccinations, microchipped, ear tipped and treated for intestinal worms and external parasites (eg. fleas and ticks).

Will I be responsible for future vaccinations & health concerns?

Any cat you adopt from the Ontario SPCA will be current on vaccinations. Following adoption, you will be responsible for keeping the animals’ vaccinations up to date and for monitoring the animal for any future health concerns that may come up. The best way to have feral cats vaccinated or examined by a veterinarian is with the use of a humane live trap.

Do you have any friendly working cats?

No; the cats in the working cat program are not social, friendly cats or suited to be pets. They have no desire to be “lap cats” and cannot be touched, or may take a very long time to trust enough to pet. We strongly encourage adopters to offer cats in this program an independent outdoor life complemented by appropriate care and shelter like a barn or garage. On occasion, we may have a semi-feral cat go through our program that needs a special home – if you are interested in taking on a more “social” cat, please indicate this on your application.

What does a working cat require?

A working cat requires shelter in a permanent building or structure like a barn, warehouse, stable, or garage in a suitable area where they will be safe. The property should ideally be away from busy roads. Daily food and water must be provided, as well as any future medical care needed. They must also be kept confined for the initial 3-4 week relocation period to ensure a successful transition to their new home.

How long will it take to get my working cat?

Unfortunately, because we never know when we will receive a suitable feral cat for our program and we really try to match the right cat(s) to its most appropriate home, we cannot guarantee a time frame. We could be looking for a barn etc. right away and you will get a call the next day, or it could be months before we have the right cat(s) for you.

Can I come look at or select my working cat?

No; the Ontario SPCA does its best in selecting working cats and matching them with their appropriate home based on the individual needs of each cat.

Do you adopt out working cats during the winter?

Yes, possibly; if there is suitable shelter for the cat, we will adopt out cats during the winter months at our discretion.

What happens if our working cat isn’t the right fit?

We always do our best to match the right cat to the right home, however, we won’t truly know until the cat settles into its new environment, whether its been a successful relocation or not. If the cat isn’t adjusting well to its new surroundings, please contact us and we will discuss it further with you. If the cat needs to be brought back to us, we understand and will always accept the cat back into our care. We would also consider a request to adopt another working cat if this were the case.

Is there a similar program in my community?

Please contact your local SPCA or humane society to see if they offer a similar program.

Ready to adopt a working cat?

Fill out the application here!


For more information, you may also contact us at

Help us promote our Working Cat Program! Click here to download the poster.


For every animal you save

For every animal you save, every animal who feels loved in their last moments, and for everything else you do; thank you and God Bless.