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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois

Animal Services


Working Cats

 Working Cats Banner

Download an Application for a Working Cat

The majority of cats can easily live as indoor house pets but many of the cats that come to our shelter have temperaments better suited for an outdoor lifestyle. These cats may be more successful as a working cat. If you have a barn, stable, warehouse, brewery, etc. you can help save a life. Cats that are in our Working cat program fall into these categories:

  • Feral: cats that are under socialized and untouchable. They prefer the company of other animals and can become aggressive if cornered but will not aggress if left alone. These cats are excellent hunters.
  • Semi-Feral: these cats may allow people to touch them but will most likely hide from strangers.
  • Semi-Social: with work these cats will likely allowing touching and possibly handling. They will most likely still hide from strangers but may bond to their caregivers.

Adopting a working cat can help control your pest problem while saving a life of a cat not suited for an indoor lifestyle.


What We Provide

Each cat that participates in our Working Cat Program will be:

  • Spay or neutered                                                            
  • Vaccinated for Rabies and Feline Distemper
  • Dewormed and treated for fleas
  • Tested for Feline Leukemia and FIV
  • Microchipped and Ear tipped (universal sign to indicate a sterilized cat)

What You Provide

  • Daily food and water
  • Shelter in a barn, stable, warehouse, etc. away from high traffic streets.
  • Veterinarian care, as needed.
  • A secure location for the cats to acclimate for the first 2 to 4 weeks.

  Help us spread the word about this new, life-saving program by sharing our Working Cat Flyer.

Working Cat Program FAQ’s

Q. Has DuPage County Animal Services changed their philosophy on cats living outdoors?

A. For most cats, an indoor lifestyle is safer and healthier than living outdoors. We as an organization that advocates for animal welfare typically advise all cat owners to keep their pets indoors. 

However, many cats brought into our shelter by the public have never been properly socialized with humans or lived indoors. Most of these cats are unable to adjust to an indoor environment and make a better hunter than a lap cat.

Adopting out these cats to caring owners who can care for them outdoors can provide them a better quality of life.


Q. Do the people who adopt a Working Cat have to care for them or can the cat fend for themselves?

A. We do require all adopters to be able to provide a warm shelter protected from the weather, regular food and water, and veterinarian care as needed.


Q. How do I pick which Working Cat I would like to adopt?

A. By filling out the adoption application, you will indicate which type of cat (feral, semi-feral, semi-social) you are interested in. When we have a cat that could potentially be a match one of our staff members would contact you.


Q. What is the cost to adopt a Working Cat?

A. Currently, there is a small $10 adoption fee. If the patron adopting the cat decided to donate an additional amount, then we would continue to use that donation for the cats entering our Working Cat Program.


Q. Who should I contact if I am interested in adopting a Working Cat?

A. Call 630-407-2800 and any of our front office staff members should be able to assist you further or fill out an adoption application and email it to


Success Story

Barn cats

Mittens and Owl came into our shelter with two other siblings. The foursome came into our shelter as young adult cats and were not socialized to people. Unfortunately, they could not be placed into homes and were placed into DuPage County Animal Services "Working Cat Program." A wonderful barn reached out to our shelter and offered to house all of them. With time they adjusted to their new lives in a horse barn. Entertaining the patrons of the barn and keeping the barn feed clear of mice. The children that even visit the barn have made them houses to hide in! Midnight, Owl, Eclipse, and Fox have been given a second chance at life and we couldn't be happier for them.