Shelters Have A New Way To Save Feral Cats From Death

By Sarah Jeanne Terry

Why put down a feral cat when you can put them to work?

Dirty street cats sitting in factory
credit: svedoliver/iStock/GettyImages

That's the question that shelters around Los Angeles are asking because they just found a great way for stray cats to earn their keep. Feral cats help keep rodent populations down, which can be crucial for plenty of residences and business.

The feral cats of Disneyland are famous for keeping the happiest place on earth free of unwanted pests.

No-kill animal shelters are using the same principals, helping match feral cats at risk with business owners and others who might want the skills of a working cat. Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles is one of the shelters that has been catching, neutering or spaying, and pairing cats with businesses to help them control rodents. Business owners agree to provide food, fresh water, and medical care as needed in exchange for these felines' efforts.

According to USA Today, one Los Angeles area business owner, Richard Medina, took Best Friends up on their offer. He took on two working cats to watch over his Los Angeles Distribution Company, which distributes gourmet food and beverages. Now the cats protect the distribution center from rodents that might be after their tasty goods.

Marc Peralta, who runs Best Friends in Los Angeles, explained that feral cats who grew up living on the streets often fear human contact, so they don't make great pets. But placing them in a working cat program is "a different way to save their lives," Peralta said.

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And business owners benefit as well. Cats are a natural way to keep rodents away. And it's not as if cats are expected to hunt down every mouse and rat. Just the smell of a cat in the area helps to keep rodents away. A Santa Clarita woman named Brittany Sorgenstein could not keep rodents out of the feed for her farm animals. But she hesitated to use chemicals or traps that might catch her animals. But then she adopted two working cats to keep an eye out, and the rest is history.

In Los Angeles and around the country, shelters have resettled working cats in situations that work great for both parties. Best Friends has placed 75 cats. The Barn and Business Cat program in St. Paul, Minnesota has placed 336 cats. And the Arizona Humane Society has saved 730 cats. The programs sound encouraging, and they offer another way to save animals, even if they're not right to become pets. We always knew cats had some serious skills.

We're glad others figured out how beneficial cats can be for society.