Proposal to Deal With LA’s Rat Problem With ‘Army of Cats’ Struck Down For Obvious Reasons [Opinion]

Carl CourtGetty Images

The Los Angeles City Hall is infested with rats. That’s not a metaphor, it’s literally overrun with rodents. The issue has consumed the City Council, who are trying to find a solution to the problem. One particular suggestion by Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson received a lot of attention.

According to the LA Times, he suggested deploying an “army of cats” to hunt down the rats.

While the councilman is correct in thinking cats are an effective pest control tool, they’re better as a preventive measure than as a reactive solution. Rats will avoid houses once they smell a hint of cat urine on the property.

Using cats, particularly an “army of cats” to deal with a rat infestation is not recommended, as Dr. Dawn Terashita, an associate director with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, explained to the councilman.

“The fleas from the rat would immediately jump onto the cat.”

Fleas found in rats carry a lot of diseases, like typhus, and would jump into other mammals like dogs, humans, and cats, and infect them. That is actually one way the bubonic plague spread so rapidly across medieval Europe.

Cats crowd as they wait for an island resident to feed them on September 27, 2018 in Aoshima, Japan. Aoshima island has come to be known for its large number of felines which now outnumber humans by approximately ten to one. They were introduced on ships in the area but remained on the island and repopulated with estimates placing the current population at around 200 compared to a human population of just nine. Like many rural areas of Japan, large numbers of residents have left the community to seek better job prospects in cities and the people now remaining, and often feeding the cats, are all pensioners
Featured image credit: Carl CourtGetty Images

That is just one reason why this isn’t a good idea. Here are a few others.

  1. The expression “herding cats” refers to trying to control the uncontrollable, and it’s a very apt expression.
  2. Cats defecate and urinate; the smell could be so strong that City Hall would end up reeking for weeks, maybe months.
  3. Cats don’t eat as cleanly as people think, particularly while hunting multiple targets, so City Hall would end up covered in rat blood, which has its own health concerns.
  4. Some of the rats could have rabies, which would be transmitted to the cats once consumed.
  5. A lot of cats won’t eat a full rat in one seating, so after all is said and done City Hall would end up littered with half-eaten rat corpses.
  6. This is assuming these are special hunting cats, as most cats are terrible at hunting rats, per the Smithsonian.

Regardless of the hilarity of the councilman’s proposal, the Los Angeles rat infestation is a serious issue that needs to be addressed with real solutions. ABC7 News reports that there are entire Los Angeles neighborhoods overrun with rats, not just City Hall.

Extreme rat infestations such as this one are actually one of the many effects of climate change that scientists warned against, per Newsweek. So at best Los Angeles can only put a band-aid on the issue, while Washington ignores it.