The city of Chicago has a rat problem. A big rat problem. After a mild 2015-2016 winter, the rodent population exploded, and there has been a 40% increase in rat complaints since last year. Citizens have tried traps, poisons, high-frequency noise emitters, and all sorts of devices to fight the problem, but one method seems to be working better than the rest, so long as you can get it to stick around. People are getting feral cats to protect their yards from the rodent threat.
Chicago’s Empirical Brewery is already in on the trend with four resident stray cats provided to them by Tree House Humane Society‘s Cats at Work program, which hooks people and businesses up with feral cats that have been trapped, microchipped, and spayed or neutered to act as ratters. With the rat infestation in the city so out of control, the waiting list for feral felines is six months long. Homeowners and businesses are signing up in droves for the chance to have a stray cat that will hopefully make their yard its territory.
The challenge is getting the cats to stay put. They are, after all, feral, and are not suited to being indoor pets. The residents who request these cats spend some time keeping them caged so that they can learn that the home is a source of food and shelter. After this warming up period, the cats are released. Some choose to stay, some leave forever.
But those that stay get to work quickly, marking their territory and spreading their scent. The rats that aren’t scared off by that are hunted. These cats are so effective that they are highly prized by residents of the city, even though alley cats were once considered pests, themselves. Hopefully this means more cats in need finding safe homes and fewer rats spreading disease and parasites in the city.
Would you get a feral cat for your home? Are you happy to see these cats getting a job that provides food and shelter? Let us know in the comments below!