Some cats are adopted into a forever home, only to end up in a shelter later because they weren’t “cuddly” enough. Just like people, cats have their own personalities. Unfortunately some cat owners don’t understand this fact when they bring home the newest addition to their family.
And it’s true—some cats are just plain ornery, want to be left alone, or prefer to limit their human interaction as much as possible. To some, these qualities make them less desirable, and so a number of cats end up in shelters simply for because of who they are.
For the person looking for a furry friend to play and snuggle with when they get home, a more predatory-natured cat might be a disappointment. But for those looking to curb their mouse problem, they’re a dream come true.
The Working Cats program takes a “no manners, no problem” approach.
The Philadelphia Animal Care and Control team has recently found an innovative way to help place feistier cats in situations where they will be valued and appreciated, according to the Associated Press.
Those felines with problems using a litter box, the scratchers, biters, and generally unfriendly cats work very well as mouse catchers in barns or stables.
The former pets are also able to be fed a healthy diet by their new owners, remain current on their vaccinations, and roam freely. In this role, their predatory instincts aren’t only appreciated, they’re encouraged.
The shelter recently expanded the program to more urban environments. Factories and warehouses find that they’re a kind of “green pest control.” The animals are microchipped free of charge, and no longer confined by a cage in a shelter.
Here, the traits that would normally constitute a “bad cat” make them the most coveted kittens in the compound. Take Spike for example. Hanging from the door of his crate is a clipboard that lists all of his qualifications for the Working Cats program: hissing, swatting, spitting. Perfect!
“We took advantage of their natural propensity to hunt and made an official program out of it,” said ACCT spokeswoman Ame Dorminy.
Cats that the staff at ACCT deem a good fit for the program are put in their own row of kennels in the shelter. Labeled “TTA,” these cats need “time to adjust” before they are ready to earn their living as hunters.
“Just because cats don’t want to be petted or snuggle on a lap doesn’t mean they can’t have good lives,” Dorminy said.
The staff at Bella Vista Beer Distributors is thrilled with the progress their new four-legged exterminator has made. Every morning, they were unlocking the doors and finding that mice had gnawed away at 15 bags of chips that had to be thrown away.
After the traditional route of hiring an exterminator failed to yield positive results, an employee found the ACCT website and learned about the Working Cats program. Jordan Fetfatzes, owner of the beer distributor, was convinced. He decided on Gary, a white male cat with one blue eye and one green eye.
Gary had “behavioral issues.” He would hiss from his crate, hated people, and would only leave the office and enter the warehouse after everyone had left for the night. Fast-forward a few weeks, and Gary is a brand new cat who is keeping the warehouse rodent-free.
After growing accustomed to his surroundings, Gary has become a playful, jovial, and curious cat who has garnered a following with the neighborhood kids. According to Ame Dorminy, this kind of turnaround in behavior is nothing new.
“A lot of these cats feel more comfortable when they can be themselves and use natural behaviors,” she explained. “Then they’re more open to human interaction, because they feel more confident.”
For Fetfatzes and countless other business owners around the country, the choice is obvious. If you can solve your rodent problem and save a life at the same time, what’s there to worry about?
“You’re not only saving your business money, you are helping save the life of an unwanted pet,” he said. “And in this case, we made a friend.”
Working Cats programs have been gaining popularity lately, but they actually go back as far as the 1990s, when organizations like the ACCT started finding alternative ways to care for feral and unwanted cats. Now that business owners are seeing the advantages they’re gaining popularity.
That’s a good thing, because it gives kittens like Gary a second chance at living a long, healthy life. And as a positive contributor to society, no less.