Cats At Work Pairs Stray Cats With Jobs And Places Them In A Forever Home

Georgia Makitalo

Everyone who has an old house knows this secret. Get a cat and you will never have a mouse problem. What if you have a warehouse, hobby farm, or other business that may attract mice? Then there is the Working Cats program organized by the Humane Society. What is wonderful is that previous to this program, the only option for these cats was death row.

This program pairs up businesses with a mouse problem to a small group, usually two or three, feral cats. As these cats are not comfortable with being handled by people, they feel comfortable prowling inside of a business such as a warehouse or outside in a yard.

In Minnesota, where grain elevators, small farms, and warehouses are aplenty, the Startribune has reported that this program has soared.

Fritz and Nutmeg are two such employees. They began working at Ramy Turf Products when manager Jim Trenter was tired of the mice chomping up the grass seed. He figured the loss was about $10,000 a year. He originally wanted to adopt a cat for the purpose of mousing, but then he discovered the new Working Cats program. Saving the two feral cats from death row, he brought them back to the warehouse. They became acclimated and, in a few week's time, got to work.

Trenter is so satisfied with his two quiet feline employees. He's also impressed that with so little money and effort, the end result is very impressive. Although Nutmeg hides in a secret spot away from all humans, Fritz is super friendly and will hang out during the day, rubbing against their legs and allowing the employees to pet them.

One homeowner, Victoria Thomas, who lives just north of Lincoln Park, figured that she had about 400 rats living next door. That is, until she picked up the "feral cat colony." Immediately, the three rescued feral cats went right into doing the work that they loved and rapidly took care of the problem.

This solution seemed so simple after Thomas had many failed attempts are ridding herself of the rodents by setting up underground fencing and poison traps. Now, she daily feeds the three cats, has a heated water dish, and an insulated shelter for the inclement Chicago weather, and she has is set.

Paul Nickerson, the manager of Cats at Work from the Tree House Humane Society where Thomas rescued her cats, has a scientific reason as to why cats are the perfect remedy to rats.

"The cats will kill off a great deal of the initial population of the rats. But through spreading their pheromones, they will keep other rats from filling their vacuum. Before the cats showed up, there were no predator pheromones in the area. Now that cats are here, there's predator pheromones and the rats aren't stupid. They smell the predator pheromones and so they'll stay out of the cats' territory."

What the Humane Society needs are more employers to participate in the Working Cats program. With the current outstanding success of this program, more companies can identify their specific need, contact their local Humane Society, and inexpensively seek out a sweet, feral cat that otherwise has no options.

The Humane Society's Cats At Work program has proven to be an asset to any business. Could you find a spot for one of these working cats at your home or business?

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)