The San Antonio Country Club has retained a team of previously unemployed felines to rid the property of mice, giving the feral cats the rare opportunity to become productive members of society.
In their new positions, the cats have not deviated much from their lazy lifestyle: they still spend the bulk of their time sunbathing and licking themselves. But, as it turns out, they don’t even need to eat the rats and mice to be effective mousers—usually the cats’ scent alone is enough to scare off the unsightly rodents, Rose Mary Budge writes in the the San Antonio Express-News.
The cats found their work through a joint program of the Texas Barn Cats society and the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition‘s Working Cat Program. The two groups work in tandem as a “sort of kitty employment agency” that “finds homes for colonies of feral felines that are too wild to be house pets but perfectly suited to be ‘rodent-control technicians,'” Budge explains.
The club’s “main mouser” is named Candy, but there is also “Squeaker (a street-smart stray), Bobby Bobtail (an intimidating tabby), Cane (a tough young tom) and Arby (who once lived under a vacant building),” Budge writes.
Marvin Jones, the executive director of the country club, has been impressed with their work: “We’ve seen a dramatic decrease in rodent activity,” he told Budge. (The club had previously used a combination of poisons and traps to combat the rodent scourge.)
Jenny Burgess of Texas Barn Cats said she hopes the group will relocate other cats to other places prone to rodent infestations, including barns, feed stores, and farms.
Budge notes that using cats to guard grain dates back to the time of Ancient Egypt. A program similar to the San Antonio initiative sprouted in 1999 in Los Angeles, and today, there are at least six other organizations in the cat employment/assistance business in Texas (including Houston’s Feral Cat Assistance Program, Tomball’s SOS (Save Our Strays), Dallas’s Barncats, Inc. and Feral Friends, Austin’s Pets Alive/No-Kill Initiative, and College Station’s Brazos Feral Cats Allies.)