Cats for hire

By Nicole Hamilton | January 31, 2017

E Everyone knows cats can nap like nobody’s business. But as it turns out, they’re also some of the hardest workers around.

That’s what Karen Orawa learned one day when she visited her friend’s winery near Los Angeles. When Karen told her friend she was looking for a way to keep rodents out of her barn and garage, she learned about the winery’s newest and most dedicated employees: cats.

At first Karen was sceptical about her friend’s hires. Were cats really the perfect employees for her enclosed property, or was it too good to be true?

Natural rodent deterrent

She decided to research working cat programs, and while what she learned made her interest grow, it wasn’t until she found Best Friends’ working cats program in Los Angeles that she was convinced to give it a try.

As a long-time supporter of Best Friends, Karen began to understand that working cat programs do more than deter rodents and protect enclosed property. They also save cats with few placement options once they end up in shelters. And a particularly successful working cat program in L.A. is helping the city to achieve no-kill status.

A solution that benefits cats and humans

“There’s a great need for placement of these cats,” says Elizabeth Anderson, lead cat caregiver who helps with the placement of working cats from the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center in Los Angeles. Liz is talking specifically about cats living outdoors on the streets and cared for by citizens, who bring them to a shelter with the hope that they will be adopted.

If the cats are friendly, adoption is possible, but if they’ve never lived in a home, they might be terrified of people and want nothing to do with them. Many cats without any human bonding cannot be socialized enough to live happily in people’s homes.

The working cat program solves this problem by placing these cats into new homes where they can put their natural rodent-deterring talents to good use and thereby save property from serious rodent damage. Today, places like wineries, auto shops and urban farms that have safe, enclosed areas for the cats benefit from working cat programs.

“Everyone benefits from our working cat program,” says Liz. “Shelters benefit because it makes more room for friendly cats who need homes, and adopters benefit because they can save their property from rodent damage without spending a lot of money.” But it’s the cats who benefit the most, she says. The program not only lets them live in an environment where they can thrive, but it’s what allows to live in the first place.


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