Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cats are Stealth Rat-Killers CATS AT WORK

I was the Community Cats Coordinator at Tree House Humane Society in Chicago for 2 years, and I still volunteer with this program: Tree House specializes in feral cat relocations for outdoor cats who are at risk from poisonings, BB gun shootings, abandoned house demolitions (where the cats tend to live), indoor and outdoor cat hoarding situations, and feeders who have to move and can't take the outdoor cats they feed with them. We trap the cats and place them in x-large acclimation crates in their new environment for 3-4 weeks to get them accustomed to their new home. Dumping them somewhere without acclimation is inhumane as it causes the cats to become confused and they will attempt to find their way back to their original home and food source and that is dangerous. 

To secure their new homes we have a program called Cats at Work, where people actually request feral cats for their community gardens, personal yards, factories, stables, farms, barns and businesses, and in the case of the 47th Ward of Chicago, alleys! (see my previous posts about Cats at Work). Folks requesting feral cats for their yards and businesses must fill out applications, sign contracts, follow the protocol of the acclimation, and pay for the relocation of the cats.

In talking with these educated folks who understand that cats are the "green" and humane solution to their rat, mouse, chipmunk, rabbit and insect problems, they often ask, "if I feed the cats twice a day will they still hunt?" And the answer is OH YES THEY WILL. I also often have this conversation when I run into skeptical neighbors while I am trapping cats in alleys who are initially angry that I am planning returning the cats to the alley. 

My colony cats have lived with me for years in the yard, They are well-fed, spoiled cats who live in a heated, insulated, bi-level outdoor condo, but this is what we see all year:

And here are 2 of the 3 cats in my colony, lounging around like lazy-butts after their night of rat-killing. 

Outdoor cats kill neighborhood rats even if they are stuffed with store-bought cat food. It's their nature, their instinct, and their main hobby in life. They find the rat nests, stand over the hole, and eat the babies, thereby reducing the rat population. 

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