A working cat is type of domestic cat that "works" for its upkeep by hunting vermin, such as rodents. They are commonly employed where pest control is needed: in barns, farms, factories, warehouses, stores, churchyards, and private property. A benefit of using a working cat is that they alleviate the need for harmful pesticides. Working cats are often placed in their environment as a part of a working cats program.
Working cats programs
A working cats program is designed to place cats in safe environments where they are valued for their hunting skills as working cats. These programs are typically offered by animal shelters who will use otherwise unadoptable cats in the program as an alternative to euthanasia. The cats may not be suitable for adoption because they are feral cats or did not acclimate to living in close quarters with humans. Working cats programs usually provide cats that are spayed or neutered and fully vaccinated, and any adoption fee is often waived. In exchange for their services, the cats are to receive a place to live, food, water, and vet care.
A feral cat is a cat without an owner that lives outside. These cats have very minimal to no human contact at all. They tend to hide from humans and do not allow themselves to be touched by them. Attempts to socialize feral cats often fail or take a long time, and even so some remain afraid of humans.
There are efforts to control the feral cat population, which is a big problem. There are trap neuter return programs, which capture the feral cats, neuter/spay them, and release them back outside. This prevents the cat from reproducing. Others result in euthanasia.
Each year, about 1.5 million shelter animals are put down, and 86,000 of those are cats. Working cat programs decrease those numbers by giving a cat that would instead not be adoptable a home, and more room for other shelter animals.
A study that was done at the University of Minnesota showed that taking care of a cat can improve human health. The study showed fewer chances of getting heart attacks, cardiovascular diseases, having trouble sleeping, and anxiety when caring for a cat.
There are also benefits for the community. Feral cats control the population of rodents in a neighborhood, which then negates the need for any harmful pesticides to be used. It also reduces the spread of rabies and fleas since they are vaccinated and their caretakers treat them for fleas. These programs also save tax dollars since they are run by volunteers or privately owned.
Some disadvantages to feral cats are urine markings and destruction to wildlife and property. Feral cats are wild, and they will continue to act like so even though they have a caretaker. They may also injure other pets that get too close.
Another disadvantage is veterinary care. One round of vaccinations is not going to last for the rest of the cat's life. They must eventually get another round. Capturing a feral cat can be difficult, and some caretakers do not care to take the animal to the vet again. If they do not get their vaccinations when they are due, the cats can contract diseases and spread. Cats are three to four times more likely to get rabies than other domestic animals like dogs.
- Brulliard, Karin. "Got rats? These homeless cats are for hire". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
- "Collin County Combating Rodent Problem with Free Feral Cats | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth". Nbcdfw.com. 2016-11-01. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
- "Purr-fect ending fur Humphrey!". BBC News. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Bigos, Audrina. "Feral Cats Put To Work To Keep Rats Away". Retrieved 2016-12-01.
- Dote, Alyx. "Unadoptable cats get ninth life through PACC program". Retrieved 2016-12-01.
- Arizona Humane Society’s Working Cats Program
- Best Friends Animal Society: L.A.’s Working Cats Program
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