Chicago is famous for its bean sculpture and deep-dish pizza, but it’s also known for its rat problem. Seeking a natural solution to the pest problem, the city has found success in the form of feral cats.
Since 2012, the Tree House Humane Society has been capturing feral felines, spaying/neutering the animals, and releasing them back into the city as part of its Cats at Work program.
So far, they have released 1,000 cats, placing two or three cats in a neighborhood at a time to provide rodent control. These cats cannot thrive in an indoor home environment, so they’re finding a new purpose as rat-catchers. Properties and business owners can apply for the program and sponsor a feral cat to come live in their building and catch rats. Once a site is approved, the cats are delivered and the applicants are responsible for providing food, water, shelter, and care for the cats while they do their job.
Upon arrival, the cats will kill a few rats, but once on-site, their scent is usually enough to keep the critters from venturing into their territory. Although these cats will never behave like pets, many form successful relationships with building owners and find a lifelong home in their worksite. Some even have their own Instagram pages!