Animal Rescue League Has Large Amount of ‘Barn Cats’ Ready for Adoption

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Following a major cat hoarding case in June, the Animal Rescue League is trying to find homes for dozens of cats and kittens, but they’re having a particularly hard time placing barn cats.

The ARL currently has 64 of what they call “barn cats.” Many ended up in their care after being rescued from a hoarding case in Madrid.

“These are ones that actually lived outside of the house in kind of barn-like environments out at the place that was hoarding them,” ARL CEO Tom Colvin said.

Many of the cats from that case were adopted into traditional homes, but the barn cats behaviors showed the ARL Cat Team they weren’t suited for that environment.

“Blinking is a big one. Cats that blink tend to be more social with humans than other cats. Another one we would be looking for is meowing. Meowing is a learned behavior as kittens, so when they’re socialized with people, cats will continue to meow around people. However, the feral or semi-feral cats, they won’t meow,” ARL Cat Team member Emily Heisel said.

Even though they are commonly referred to as barn cats, they are happy in other places as well.

“Most certainly they can be in a barn, kind of like what we are in right now, but also warehouses that are safe for cats. You wouldn’t want a lot of heavy machinery coming in and out, but they would be great mousers in that type of environment, anybody with a large acreage as long as you have that acclimation area for them,” Heisel said.

Heisel said once adopted, they need six weeks of being in an acclimation area where they have food, water and a litter box.

Normally the ARL would trap, spay or neuter and return feral or semi-feral cats, but due to being part of a hoarding case, they couldn’t be returned.

“We are trying to reduce these cat populations and the only way we are going to do it is by spaying and neutering and having these types of innovative programs,” Colvin said.

If you would like to adopt a barn cat, you can send an email to or call the ARL at 515-262-9503.


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