Free-roaming and Community cats

Cats, Adopters, Welfare

Free-roaming cats

These very independent cats will have an out-building as a base for shelter and regular food, spending most of their time exploring their countryside territory. They will not want to interact with people but may venture close by especially as they get older.

Community cats

These suburban cats have no formal owner, being fed by several households in their territory. Their temperament can range from wary to quite friendly, but always on their terms. They have the potential to become pet cats, given gentle socialisation, especially as they get older.


Free-roaming cat Mocha enjoying her new farm home, without any pressure to socialise with people

Adopting free-roaming cats  

The set up you need

A secure outbuilding, shed or barn with plenty of safe surrounding countryside. This will initially be fully secure from escape for the first 2-3 weeks but after this the cat will use this as a base so will always need access either with an open door or cat flap.

TIP. If you already have a cat flap then block it for the initial period. Just locking it will not suffice as they will bust it open if daylight can be seen.

Inside must be hazard-free and with these resources:

  • Warm bed. If the building is not heated have plenty of blankets. Place this furthest away from the door. This is best if it is a semi-covered hidey spot.
  • Food and water bowls. It is best to place these apart from each other but near the bed, and in an elevated area if you will have wildlife also coming in. 
  • Litter tray. Have this away from the food and water bowls. 
  • A wildlife camera. This is recommended so you can keep an eye on them and also it is a lot of fun! You can pick some up from about £20.

Once you have the resources in place, do not move them around but if you need to then add in a second set for a few weeks, then take away the old one.

Not sure you have the right space? Please apply and send photos in, and we can advise.

Ongoing care

Your cat will need to have food and water provided every day. If you are hoping that they will catch mice and rats, they will continue to do this even if well fed as the hunting instinct is very strong.

Always go into the barn area at the same times each day and, before you enter, knock on the door so the cat has a chance to hide. The routine will be very reassuring to the cats so they can relax in between visits. Once free-roaming, you may even see them nearby at these regular feeding times.

Flea and worm treatment can be given in the food. You can buy these from online pet drug companies – we can let you know a few ones to try.


Panda was a community cat, known in the local neighbourhood and fed by several people.

Adopting community cats

The set up you need

An outbuilding or conservatory close to the house, this can be in a suburban or countryside area. A converted shed, summerhouse or garage can all work well. This will initially be fully secure from escape for the first 2-3 weeks but after this the cat will use this as a base so will always need access. A cat flap or some sort of access to the house will also be needed to encourage their sociability.

Inside must be hazard-free and with these resources:

  • Warm bed. If the building is not heated have plenty of blankets. Place this furthest away from the door. 
  • Food and water bowls. It is best to place these apart from each other but near the bed.
  • Litter tray. Have this away from the food and water bowls. 
  • Hidey spots and enrichment. See our ‘Secure rooms set up’ page for ideas. 
  • A wildlife camera. This is recommended so you can keep an eye on them and also it is a lot of fun! You can pick some up from about £20.

You should also provide these resources inside your house near to their entry point, to encourage sociability. Once you have the resources in place, do not move them around, but if you need to move them add a second resource and remove the old one after a few weeks. 

Not sure you have the right space? Please apply and send photos in, and we can advise.

Ongoing care

Your cat will need to have food and water provided every day.

Always go into their shed/summerhouse area at the same times each day and, before you enter, knock on the door so the cat has a chance to hide. The routine will be very reassuring to the cats so they can relax in between visits.

As these cats have the potential to be more sociable with people, you should also spend time with them in this room. » See our ‘Becoming friends with a nervous cat’ page.

Flea and worm treatment can be given in the food. You can buy these from online pet drug companies – we can let you know a few ones to try.
 

Happy cat settled in bed

New cat

Setting up your home ready for your new cat to help them settle in quickly

Cats, Adopters, Cat behaviour

New dog image

New dog

How to help your new friend settle in and start to build a bond

Dogs, Adopters, Dog behaviour

indoor space for happy cats

Making your home cat-friendly

If you make your home a comfortable environment for a cat, they will spend more time with you and so be a more rewarding pet. 

Cats, Adopters, Cat behaviour

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