Putting Wild Cats to Work

There are millions of feral and stray cats across America. Some cities have found a humane way to coexist with them — give them work.

New York City has tens of thousands of stray and feral cats

Instead of euthanizing, New York City is putting thousands of feral cats to work to solve the city’s rampant rodent problem. Kathleen O’Malley helps run the NYCFCI-- New York City Feral Cat Initiative. She tells Brut that the Mayor's Alliance believes that a working cat program is an excellent alternative to traditional pest control. Cats offer a natural nontoxic and pretty low-cost method of deterring rodents. If a cat kills a rodent, that is nature.

In exchange for food and shelter, the cats deter rodents and other unwanted pests from businesses and homes. The cats literally have nowhere to go. The shelter doesn't want them because they may have to euthanize them if they can't find placement for them. NYC Feral Cat Initiative is happy to work with homeowners or businesses who want to actually adopt these feral cats. It's what the industry calls a working cat situation, where the cats are brought to live in a backyard, for example, and they defend that backyard just as they defended that empty lot against rodents.

New York City has tens of thousands of stray and feral cats. Left unfixed, they breed prolifically. Trap-neuter-return, which is the humane and effective method of reducing the feral cat population by trapping humanely, neutering, and then putting them back outside because that's really the only life they're suited for. Then the cats stop breeding, but they stay in place and they are deterring the rodents in the neighborhood, which people who own homes appreciate. And over time, the population of cats grows old and dwindles, and eventually there may not be too many cats around. Instead of putting them to sleep, the city employed a compassionate strategy. Thousands of cats have been rehabilitated by the NYCFCI. Local officials hope this approach spreads to other cities.


02/15/2019 12:21 PMupdated: 06/21/2019 6:30 PM
  • 5.9m
  • 592


  • Amanda P.
    2 days


  • Andy M.
    2 days

    this is good

  • Karli F.
    2 days

    Cats aren’t endangered. I don’t understand why people try and save every single one🙄.

  • Clairisse S.
    2 days

    Invasive species issue aside, I don't think they know what, "feral," is.

  • Darnell M.
    2 days

    For the millenials moving to NYC complaining about papi having a cat in the store, this is why the cat is in the store.

  • Zachary B.
    2 days

    I love this idea

  • Noah Z.
    3 days


  • Helen N.
    3 days

    I love love love cats, I have my own kitty babies at home but I keep them inside. It can not be denied that they have a negative effect on native bird populations, among other native animals like reptiles. They are not native here, they are extremely efficient killers, and they kill when they are hungry and when they want to play/practice. Cats are beautiful, graceful and powerful hunters that make them one of the biggest threats to native birds. But it’s not that having cats as pets is a problem, it’s us letting them roam outside. Keeping a cat indoors must be the only way to keep a cat. Feral cats should not be let out to continue roaming. Yes, outside is where they ‘thrive’ and eat many rodents, but that’s also where they eat many native animals (the common street rat, Rattus norvegicus, is an invasive nonnative species here as well as the house mouse, Mus musculus, both are from Europe). Are we going to put that above the population declines of native birds, many of which help provide vital ecosystems services? Many other native animals prey on rodents, such as bobcats, weasels, birds of prey, and snakes. Maybe we could “employ” them, or maybe try a different approach to nonnative rodent infestations because cats cause a lot of other ecological harm. I want my kitties to be as happy as possible, too, but not letting them outside is a sacrifice I’m well willing to pay for helping protect our native wildlife. My babies seem pretty content inside anyways 🐱❤️ and keep the rodents out of the house.

  • Jacob L.
    5 days

    Next thing you know the entire city has toxoplasmosis

  • Alex H.
    6 days

    "Low cost" You still have to take care of the cat? The cat needs high quality food, toys, visual enrichment, it needs to be taken to the vet.

  • Gabriella A.
    6 days

    Dang New York is Gunna smell like cat pee

  • Alexandria M.
    12/05/2019 03:48

    My animals are NOT pests!!! And I would be devastated if a feral cat killed my babies.

  • Markos A.
    12/04/2019 17:20

    Hopefully they get good benefits and a 401k

  • Mathew R.
    12/03/2019 21:55

    I'm happy someone is doing this as a kid I always had the idea of getting all the cats together and making them work to kill rodents and help out on farms or such things. Makes me very happy knowing someone is doing something to help these loving animals. ^_^

  • Dipobroto S.
    12/03/2019 20:52

    working cats 😼

  • Steve W.
    12/03/2019 17:30

    People would rather trap somebodys cat who is outside for the moment, and kill them rather than release them back into their natural habitat. There is nothing humane about that

  • Nate B.
    12/03/2019 16:16

    The 10 people that are angry bc they didn't think of it first

  • Amanda G.
    12/03/2019 04:57

    Most of my dogs are mousers! I live out in the country so fieldmouse was a big problem til I got my pups

  • Marchesa M.
    12/01/2019 19:01

    Put them to work - let’s make Merica great again! 👌🏻👍🏻

  • Aleman M.
    12/01/2019 14:43

    ya pusieron a los michis a trabajar 😢🤣