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.