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Advocate photo by PAUL KIEU -- Kittens peek through their crate at the Lafayette Parish Animal Control Center in Lafayette, LA, on September 24, 2016. Monthly adoption events are scheduled for Saturday afternoons as the Lafayette Consolidated Government aims to transition the shelter to a no-kill shelter.

When you think of pet adoptions, you think of sad puppy eyes, right?

And cute kittens playfully batting at a toy before curling up in your lap, purring for a scratch behind the ears.

That's not always the reality. Many cats that Lafayette Animal Shelter workers encounter have never lived among humans and are feral or semi-feral. That's why the shelter began its Trap, Neuter and Return program, which traps, sterilizes, and returns feral cats to where they were found.

However, in some cases, returning the animal to its former location is not practical, according to Shelley Delahoussaye, shelter supervisor. "Presently, cats in this situation live at our shelter’s barn, but it is not a long-term solution," Delahoussaye said.

A new partnership between the shelter and the WildCat Foundation/SpayNation now aims to put those cats to work. The new effort is called Cats Clocking In, and the idea is to match sterilyzed, feral cats with homeowners and businesses looking for rodent deterrence.

“CCI will relocate feral cats and give them a job doing what they do naturally," Delahoussaye said. "It’s a win-win in our book!”

Unlike a traditional adoption, CCI promotes a business-like relationship between working cats and their new owners. In exchange for food, water, shelter and basic medical care, the cats protect their new home from rodents. Having cats on patrol prevents rodents from taking up residence in barns, farms, factories, warehouses, stores and on private property, Delahoussaye said in a news release.

This unconventional approach also helps toward the shelter's goal of becoming a no-kill facility by 2020.

"This is just one more way to increase our live outcomes," said Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, who launched the no-kill initiative in 2016. "It makes sense as a proven best practice and is easily implemented."

The working cats, which are adopted in pairs to keep each other company, are spayed/neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, and ear tipped at no cost to the adopter, Robideaux said.

Those interested in hiring a working cat or cats can find out more here: http://www.lafayettela.gov/LASCC/Pages/Cats-Clocking-In.aspx