Good News for the Day: Feral Cats at Work

 

I found this story on Fox News this morning, about a “team” of feral cats.  They live in Chicago, and are being managed by a group called “Treehouse Humane Society”.  The group gets the cats into good health, spays or neuters them, and provides them with shelter, food and water, and litter boxes.  It seems this program has been around since 2012, with the cats are released onto the streets as “pest control”.  The city has found that the presence of the cats helps keep the rat population down, even when they don’t kill and eat the rats.

This is sort of like the goats that are hired out to keep people’s lawns and fields free of weeds, although the goats aren’t rescue animals like the cats are.  The cats would otherwise have to be euthanized since most of them don’t make suitable indoor pets.  I just thought this story was heartwarming, and a great way to help both the kitties and the people of Chicago (who can use all the help they can get).

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  1. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Humane Society branches and other groups have had “working cats” programs for quite a while, in some cases.  This is where basically-unadoptable cats get “adopted” by various places that need rodent control, etc.  Sometimes it’s “outdoor” work on farms, dairies, etc, where the cats might have “home base” in a barn or other building where they are provided food, water, shelter, and medical care if needed.  In other cases it might be warehouses and other business areas.  I’ve read of at least one case where some kind of Post Office facility had “working cats” that were loose at night to keep things clean when they had a rat problem.

    And sometimes, these “working cats” find their own positions:  I’ve been to some Home Depot and Lowe’s stores where cats had taken up residence in the mostly-outdoor garden area, where they keep down mice, rats, even scorpions…

    • #1
  2. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    I saw that this morning.  Wonderful story.  That reminds me of my own feral cat story.  After we lost our last stable cat to old age, the stable manager said “No more” as we had too many disappearances due to coyotes and bob cats, most likely.  The rodents became completely out of control.  I had heard that sometimes feral cat populations had to be moved for one reason or another and that usually led to euthanasia, so I thought that maybe we could relocate a doomed feral cat colony to our stable.  There were plenty of hiding places and the boarders would take care of any vet bills that came up.  We had several cats that lived until old age or sickness took them, so it wasn’t an automatic death sentence.  The manager agreed so I asked my vet if he heard of any feral cats that needed homes to contact me. 

    I soon got a call that one of his clients had some feral cats on her property that needed to be removed.  I spoke with her and said that I only wanted cats that had no chance of adoption and she assured me that although these cats were young -about 6 months she said -that no one could get near them or handle them.  They were vicious.  So I went to pick them up at the vets office.  Well they were neither 6 months old nor vicious.  Insteadd,  I saw 4 trembling kittens no more than 3 months old. 

    I said “I can’t take these, they wouldn’t stand a chance.  You told me they were older and vicious.” But she said, more or less, “See you, they’re your problem now.” One of the vet techs was playing with one of these ‘vicious’ cats and asked if she could keep her.  So now I was left with 3.  I didn’t know what to do.  My own cat was dying of cancer and I couldn’t take in a new cat. So I brought them out to the stable hoping that we could figure out what to do.  Everyone gathered around to see the vicious cats and started laughing.  I was hoping that someone might offer to foster them until at least they were a bit older.  Then one of the instructors, who had lost her cat a few months before, blurted out  “I’ll take them.  All of them.”  She later told me that when she lost her cats, she never deliberately went out to get another, but when the time was right, one would turn up.  Only this time it was three.  Turns out they were complete love muffins.  So it turned into a happy ending.  But I never tried again to get feral cats for the stable!

    • #2
  3. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    That is such a cheer-me-up kind of story.

    Thank you for sharing it.

     

    • #3
  4. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Wonderful story.  I wonder how many cats it would take to clear out the rats in Washington DC?

    • #4
  5. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    She (View Comment):

    Wonderful story. I wonder how many cats it would take to clear out the rats in Washington DC?

    I think it’ll take a special kind of cat:

     

    • #5
  6. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    So I forsee 1 problem.

    These cats are feral, and don’t like people.

    Anyone who gets bitten by a cat, that can’t be identified or captured, is advised to get the Rabies vaccination series.

    That involves getting injected with Rabies immune globulin followed by the entire series of 4 vaccinations.

    It’s pretty expensive, resulting in costs of over 1000 dollars.

    I suggest they do something to mark these cats before release such as spray painting a fluorescent stripe on the cats to avoid this.

    • #6
  7. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    When we first moved to horse country, we learned about barn cats.  They are feral, but relatively tame cats who live in barns, keeping rodents from getting at the hay, feed, and other things considered food by the creatures.  One lady friend said she once found one riding back in her horse trailer after a dressage.  Sneaky animal . . .

    • #7
  8. John Park Member
    John Park
    @jpark

    There’s a story in one of Kaplan’s books, this one about our forces in Afghanistan. It must have been 2002 or so. When Lithuanian troops flew in, a cat had snuck on board. Everyone was delighted with the new arrival. Even the cat, which found lots to do.

    • #8
  9. Marley's Ghost Coolidge
    Marley's Ghost
    @MarleysGhost

    Adopted a cat that came from a feral colony years ago.   A stunted gray Manx whom we named Chiana.  She was the best mouser I have ever owned.  Every day starting at about Midnight she would start patrolling the apartment, which being quite old had many little spots for the local mouse population to sneak through, and she would place any mouse interlopers at the entrance to the kitchen so I could dispose of them in the morning.  She was a great cat, even if she didn’t let anyone touch her except for me and even then it was just a cursory stroke under the chin which she appreciated.  Good cats are great to have around. 

    • #9
  10. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Kozak (View Comment):

    So I forsee 1 problem.

    These cats are feral, and don’t like people.

    Anyone who gets bitten by a cat, that can’t be identified or captured, is advised to get the Rabies vaccination series.

    That involves getting injected with Rabies immune globulin followed by the entire series of 4 vaccinations.

    It’s pretty expensive, resulting in costs of over 1000 dollars.

    I suggest they do something to mark these cats before release such as spray painting a fluorescent stripe on the cats to avoid this.

    Usually when feral or free-roaming cats are fixed, they get an ear clipped for just such reasons.  And so they know they’ve already been fixed and won’t get picked up again.

    • #10
  11. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Kozak (View Comment):

    So I forsee 1 problem.

    These cats are feral, and don’t like people.

    Anyone who gets bitten by a cat, that can’t be identified or captured, is advised to get the Rabies vaccination series.

    That involves getting injected with Rabies immune globulin followed by the entire series of 4 vaccinations.

    It’s pretty expensive, resulting in costs of over 1000 dollars.

    I suggest they do something to mark these cats before release such as spray painting a fluorescent stripe on the cats to avoid this.

    Also, we gotta remember that this is Chicago; hope that none of them get coked up from what they’ll encounter on the streets…

    • #11
  12. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    I saw this too.

    I hope these feral cats will have no problem standing up to big city rats (these are not plucked from Ratatouille castings- they are really terrible). I also wonder whether they might be dispatched to deal with the slightly taller problem characters haunting the city? You know, a well-placed nip or scratch around the ankles of someone wielding a brick could do a lot towards saving the new glass windows on State Street…

    • #12
  13. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    So I forsee 1 problem.

    These cats are feral, and don’t like people.

    Anyone who gets bitten by a cat, that can’t be identified or captured, is advised to get the Rabies vaccination series.

    That involves getting injected with Rabies immune globulin followed by the entire series of 4 vaccinations.

    It’s pretty expensive, resulting in costs of over 1000 dollars.

    I suggest they do something to mark these cats before release such as spray painting a fluorescent stripe on the cats to avoid this.

    Usually when feral or free-roaming cats are fixed, they get an ear clipped for just such reasons. And so they know they’ve already been fixed and won’t get picked up again.

    Thats fine but unless the person bitten notices the clipped ear it won’t help resolve the issue.  Something like a big fluorescent stripe painted on kitty will. Thats hard to miss.

     

    • #13