Meet Jason Rader...and his cat! He spearheads our Barn and Outdoor Cat Relocation project, along with founder Adriana Bradley.
Rader feels connected to cats: "I have two cats, my parents have five cats plus we care for four community cats. I have a lot of experience trapping and helping stray and feral cats.
"I thought that this might be a great fit for me," he says. "But it's the first time I ever did anything like this."
Enter Bradley, who recruited him largely on instinct: "Jason has a lot to offer in a lot of areas: video, marketing, and more," she tells us. "But he has a lot of experience with trapping. We needed his experience to make this work."
Thinking big for 2018, this team of two (and hopefully one or more additional volunteers) is trying to relocate 200 cats. Candidates for barn and outdoor cat relocation come to NJ STRAYS after TNR programs have treated them...but the cats just can't seem to co-exist with humans in the communities where they live. They're spayed/neutered and healthy, but they aren't living in environments where they are safe.
Transferring one or two cats per day during the active season of April to October, NJ STRAYS has a six-step process that ensures the cats' well-being:
Application (from community members, TNR groups, shelters and rescues)
Analysis (behavior, health, situation and need)
Matching to farm (adopters look for a behavior fit: "good hunters," "friendly," etc.)
Transfer of cat(s)
Relocation (and evaluation after 2-3 weeks to ensure a good fit)
"We don't just dump cats on farms," Bradley says. "This is an official adoption process. The barn or warehouse owners agree to take care of and feed their barncat."
The biggest challenge the team faces is lack of funding. They work with their own vehicles, and feed and care for the cats during the transfer. Evaluations on both sides of the transaction require a lot of driving, too. The animals need to be observed before they can be placed, and the farms need to be evaluated to make sure they are suitable, with well-maintained spaces and farm populations, far from roads and other hazards for the cats.
Rader says that communication can also pose a challenge because not all barncat adopters are quick to respond to phone calls and email. This can make for delays during steps 3 and 6.
"Most people we talk to are very open-minded about the project," Bradley explains. "We even have farms in Connecticut who are interested in our cats."
But they have to get the cats to these safe havens and making this vision of safe community cats come true is expensive.
To help, please sponsor a barncat. NJ STRAYS is also accepting food and cat litter donations, and requesting help with securing a new (or gently-used) vehicle specifically for barncat relocation.
To apply for a barncat adoption or volunteer your rural space, find out more about the program on our Barn and Outdoor Cat Relocation project page.