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
  • 7.1m
  • 863


  • Akiko K.
    4 days

    That ginger sure is hefty for a feral. When I was homeless, I lost a lot of weight.

  • Franzi S.
    4 days


  • Kathlyn M.
    5 days


  • Ted S.
    5 days

    When I was stationed in Korea, businesses had cat boxes in their alley ways. The cats were placed on strings and caught mice. The box gave them shelter. Is this what you are doing?

  • Ricky D.
    6 days

    I have seen rats that wood kill them cats in New York City

  • Mabel C.
    6 days

    Keep it going!!!😘

  • Frances V.
    6 days


  • Joyce C.
    6 days

    If a rat has a disease, I would think the cat would get it...not a good idea...

  • Daniel W.
    7 days

    Ancient Egyptians idolized cats, saved their society. As one of the world's first large farmers, cats controlled vermin that were in their grain silos. Statues of Sphinx are a nod to the cat gods. During Dark Ages Cats were viewed as satanic and killed in droves. The result: Bubonic plague/Black Death because not enough cats to control rats

  • Francine O.
    02/14/2020 23:58

    Absolutely! Euthanasia is a corrupt way of living with nature and the earth.

  • Omor I.
    02/14/2020 23:38

    I wonder what took them so long...Cats are effective as eff.

  • Ed C.
    02/14/2020 23:05

    If they are neutered they will not cause an issue. If anything they will kill rats n mice. At least no more issue than before. Ideally you want no cats or rats.

  • Nicole B.
    02/14/2020 17:25

    There’s no way that fat orange one hunts ANYTHING. 😂

  • Peter S.
    02/14/2020 03:58

    Great idea Keep it up

  • Magda D.
    02/14/2020 03:23

    They might eat or just bite rats that were poisoned and can in turn die being poisoned themselves. It happened to a family of hawks on the upper west side who were feeding their babies poisoned rats.

  • David J.
    02/13/2020 16:24

    Cats are really affectionate however they have a killer instinct. If your cat is bringing home dead animals bring em to a Vet because of Worms.

  • Roberta R.
    02/12/2020 22:57

    I like that idea they get to live

  • Owen J.
    02/12/2020 17:35

    When I was in Florida by the Miami Beach ocean drive. I saw tons of cats in the area. I figure there were there to resolve any rat issues along that walk way path by the hotels. Seems to work but it should work for NY. Only our NY rats know kung fu. And the subway ones might be packing.

  • Patrick L.
    02/12/2020 07:21

    Aye, I love the local bodega cats. My friend takes care of the strays. Set up a spot in her garage for them.

  • Manth K.
    02/11/2020 14:49

    , the cats are safe