RSPCA launches rehoming campaign to help find outdoor homes for nervous cats in the South West

Mary Youlden
Authored by Mary Youlden
Posted Friday, August 6, 2021 - 9:27pm

The RSPCA has launched a new rehoming campaign to help find alternative homes for ‘farm cats’ in the South West who prefer the great outdoors.

The project aims to find homes for farm cats and other nervous felines who need less human interaction than a typical domestic cat. The aim of the project is to educate the public that not every feline is happy to be a lap cat and to find outdoorsy homes for these cats much more quickly.

Farm cats are often nervous around people but still need someone to provide food, water, shelter and veterinary care when needed. As the name suggests, they would most likely be best suited to a farm, smallholding, or riding stables but some have even found quirky homes such as a model village, an orchard and a gazebo company.

Potential owners don’t necessarily need to have a farm or riding stable to rehome a cat who enjoys the great outdoors, the charity is looking for homes of all different types to match the variety of different cats we have. 

This International Cat Day (Sunday 8 August), the RSPCA reveals it rehomes over 20,000 cats a year and even during the pandemic, 18,274 cats were rehomed in 2020.  

A recent survey* carried out by the RSPCA found that 90% of centres and branches find it harder to find suitable homes for outdoorsy cats than other, more sociable, cats. 

Alice Potter, RSPCA’s cat welfare expert, said: “One of the most interesting things about cats is just how varied each of them are. No one set home is going to fit all cats. Cats’ personalities are a varied spectrum with an affectionate, lap cat, an ‘inbetweener’ cat who needs less but still some interaction, and all the way to a feral cat who will happily live independently from humans.

"There are all sorts of reasons why some cats need this type of lifestyle. They may have lived for a long time as a stray and aren’t familiar or comfortable being close to people or it may relate to their early experiences or genetics. Whatever the reason, we try to find the perfect home for them.

“We know that our centres and branches often struggle to find homes for our farm or outdoor cats and often one of the reasons cited is that there is a lack of awareness amongst the general public that these cats exist and that they will be much happier living an outdoorsy lifestyle.  

“Many people think of a cat curled up on the sofa, popping in and out of the cat flap for fuss but actually the kind of cats we’re talking about here may never come inside the home, they may never come for fuss but they need someone to look out for them and provide them with year-round shelter such as a shed, barn, stable or even a treehouse where they can sleep at night. They’ll also need constant access to water, to be fed daily and to receive veterinary care whenever needed.

“This is why we have launched this rehoming campaign for farm cats on International Cat Day to help raise awareness of the different homes these independent cats need.”

Farm Cats in the South West

Hawkins is an eight-year-old black and white male cat who is looking for a home on a smallholding or farm ideally.

He will need understanding owners who will appreciate that he is very nervous and doesn’t want fuss from people. He was rescued as a stray cat before coming into the care of RSPCA Little Valley Animal centre in Exeter so little is known about his past and whether he has lived in a home environment before. Therefore, it is possible he may come out of his shell and want some attention from his owner but is most likely to just enjoy the great outdoors.

Hawkins would be best suited to a home with adults and teenagers only. He would definitely need to be the only cat but may be able to cope with a cat-friendly dog. If you think you can offer this lovely boy the second chance at happiness that he deserves, please contact the branch on

Justin is a four year old cat who is also looking for a farm or smallholding home. He will need someone to provide food and shelter and allow him to come and go as he pleases. Initially he would need a secure barn to get used to his surroundings for a couple of weeks but the centre can help discuss suitable accommodation. Please contact the branch on to discuss further.

  • Hawkins and Justin are just two of several outdoorsy cats looking for homes at the branch so please do get in touch.

How to adopt a Farm Cat

Taking on a farm cat gives them a second chance in the type of home where they can live their best life. Seeing them roaming free, dozing in the sun and exploring to their heart's content can be really rewarding. 

All the cats will be in good health, neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, where appropriate and treated for fleas and worms.

The minimum requirement for an adopter will be to provide a weatherproofed shelter, food and water at least daily and to keep an eye on the health of the cat and seek veterinary help when needed. They will also need access to land to roam, and vegetation such as woodland, fields or gardens.

As well as hoping to find homes for cats currently in their care, many RSPCA branches and centres aim to build-up a directory of potential adopters so that when a freedom feline comes into their care they can quickly rehome them without the stress of being confined in a cattery.

For more information on adopting a Farm Cat visit: 

A new filter has been added to the RSPCA’s rehoming website so that potential owners can search for farm cats online, please visit: 

To register your interest in becoming a farm cat adopter, contact your nearest centre or branch.

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