Girlie, a fluffy calico cat, has a great new home, complete with a stunning view of the San Francisco Peaks. Her bed is comfy, too, and is located by the desk in the office of Lynne Nemeth, executive director of The Arboretum at Flagstaff. Along with her relative, Cleo, they are on 24-hour rodent patrol inside the historic Walter Reichardt House, the former stone home of the non-profit organization’s founder, Frances McAllister.
“Girlie rolls around when I come in the morning,” Nemeth said. “She had been named Fireball by the vet, because she was vicious, but she’s not vicious any longer, so I renamed her. They live in here, so they can roam around. They have about 3,500 square feet to take care of in the building.”
The two female cats, possibly sisters, have been living at The Arboretum since mid-October and are part of the new Working Cats Program through Paw Placement of Northern Arizona. The program is working with the Coconino Humane Association (CHA) to reduce the euthanasia rate there.
“There were in excess of 200 cats last year that were deemed feral or unadoptable and were put down, so that’s what we’re trying to address,” explained Pamela Tharp, who is on the of Paw Placement board of directors. “These two were in a hoarding situation; they don’t learn to be socialized, so that makes it really difficult to place them. Technically, we would not call these cats feral, but unadoptable. They’ve been around people, but just the wrong people.”
Tharp said animal control removed them and took them to CHA, where overcrowding ultimately led them, and their kittens, to another home at the Ark Cat Sanctuary in Parks.
“This type of program gives homeless cats a second chance at a good life,” she added.
Girlie and Cleo are the first Working Cats to be placed in a business, but other cats have already been assigned for duty at private ranches and barns.
The two cats went through a trial period at The Arboretum until the beginning of November and passed with flying colors.
“They’re doing great; since they’ve been here, we haven’t had any rodent issues in this house, so they are great deterrents,” Nemeth said. “Their job is to keep the deer mice out of here, which carry hanta-virus. We also have white-throated wood pack rats, which come into the old buildings. It just can become a health issue, but rodents also damage wiring, build nests and get into food.”
The Working Cats brochure promotes the program as “great resource” for property owners to protect their property “in an environmentally safe way and save the life of a homeless cat at the same time.”
There is no adoption fee for “hiring” a working cat.
Typical candidates for Working Cats are happier living independently or prefer to keep their distance from humans, but still need a protected or sheltered living arrangement.
When visited for this report in mid-November, Cleo hid much of the time behind a pet pen, but both cats rushed to enjoy treats from a can of wet cat food and to eat eagerly from the kibble bowl offered by Nemeth. They also let her pet them behind the ears.
“My sister and I grew up to absolutely adore cats,” recalled Nemeth, who was raised in rural Pennsylvania with 27 barn and three house cats. Girlie and Cleo have definitely settled in to their new scene.
“The cats have been very responsive to the humans here, so I’m very pleased,” Nemeth observed. “I think it’s a great way to save these cats. Everyone needs rodent control, and it’s so much better to have cats than to put poison down.”
The Arboretum, where natural habitats and cultivated gardens showcase the diverse plants of the Colorado Plateau, is pesticide free. “We’re thinking about getting cats for our horticulture building too,” she said. “But,
I don’t want them to be outside because of the birds. Also, we have a lot of coyotes, and coyotes love to eat cats. We’ve also had bobcats come through here.”
Even though not all cats are successful hunters, when cats roam around a property and leave their scent everywhere, rats depart the area on their own. Across the nation, programs such as Working Cats have placed cats with construction companies, police stations, flower shops and other businesses looking for inexpensive, safe, and effective rodent control that employs cats to do what comes naturally to them. One barn owner quoted in the brochure called having a cat on rodent duty a “classic win-win to us.” Nemeth noted cats are the apex of stealth predators: “They’re sort of at the top of their line.” Tharp said Paw Placement is exploring the idea of providing some Working Cats to attack a major rodent problem in older buildings south of Route 66 on South San Francisco Street. A side benefit of having animals in the workplace is that they can be a real boost to employee morale, Tharp says, which is certainly true of Girlie and Cleo, who have settled right in and made human friends.
“They sense they’re safe, that there’s not a threat here.”
Donations are needed to sustain the Working Cats Program and other programs at Paw Placement of Northern Arizona. “We have expenses,” Tharp said. “These cats are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped before placement.” QCBN
For details about “hiring” a working cat, call Paw Placement at 928-699-7586 or visit the website at www.ppnaz.org.
By Betsey Bruner
TNR Researcher says
Here’s a good read to show you what happens to every last one of these relocated invasive-species disease-infested vermin feral-cats that people dump-off on farms and in other rural areas in ANY location of North America and aren’t kept contained.
http : / / www . predatormastersforums . com / forums / ubbthreads . php?ubb=showflat&Number=2628942&page=1
All they are doing is adding to the cat-shooting quotas of everyone who lives rural. What a nice waste of their money and time. I personally shot and buried hundreds of these invasive-species vermin to stop them from gutting-alive and skinning-alive the last of the native wildlife on my lands. Cats that morons adopted-out from “humane” barn-cat programs. Many hunting-forums even pass along contact information of any new “barn cat programs” — for free delivery of practice-targets between hunting seasons. I don’t condone this, because if they miss then I have to shoot them myself when they wander into my own lands. *”Hello? Yes, I have a bad rodent problem out here in the country. Can you bring out about 6 of your cats? Thanks!”* (A week later: BANG! BANG! Damn, missed one. BANG! BANG! BANG!) Their cats are “valuable”, alright. But not in any way that they might ever think.
Cats that are relocated NEVER stay where they have been dumped. This is why you read reports of cats trying to get back to their points of origin hundreds of miles away. All the while senselessly destroying countless numbers of valuable native wildlife in their wake by torturing animals to death for their hourly play-toys. People in rural areas have enough of their own problem keeping these disease-infested vermin in check by shooting every stray cat they see (if only to protect their own animals and cats from all the diseases these free-roaming pestilent cats carry).
Don’t go adding to everyone’s weekly cat-shooting-quotas by releasing more of these pestilent vermin. “Cute” they are not. They ALL need to be destroyed. There are dozens of native predator species that are MUCH better suited for rodent control. Ones that eat rodents only and don’t destroy everything that moves, like cats do. There’s a good reason one species was even named the “Barn Owl”. Gray-Fox being another excellent mouser, they don’t even have European fowl on their menus and will even climb trees to keep squirrel populations in check. Even the 1.75-inch Masked-Shrew, a David & Goliath success story, evolved a poisonous bite specifically for preying on rodents right where they breed. Even the scent of them being around drives away rodents. But what do your cats do? They destroy these most beneficial of all rodent predators the very first chance they get.
Cat-lickers need to become responsible stewards of this planet by getting at least a high-school level of education in matters of ecology and biology so the rest of us don’t have to teach them a valuable lesson by shooting and burying every last one of their invasive species vermin cats for them.
TNR Researcher says
The myth about cats being good rodent control has been disproved on every island where cats were imported to take care of the imported rodents. Hundreds of years later and there’s nothing but a thriving population of cats and rodents — all the native wildlife on those islands now either extinct or on the brink of extinction — even those native species which are better rodent predators than cats (such as many reptiles and shrews which destroy rodents right in their nests), the cats having destroyed them directly or indirectly.
The rodents reproduce in burrows and holes out of the reach of cats, where they are happy to reproduce forever to entertain cats the rest of their lives, and make your own lives miserable, on into infinity. On top of that, when cats infect rodents with cat’s Toxoplasma gondii parasite, this hijacks the minds of rodents to make the rodents attracted to where cats urinate. scitizen . com / neuroscience / parasite-hijacks-the-mind-of-its-host_a-23-509 . html
Cats actually attract disease-carrying rodents to where cats are. The cats then contract these diseases on contact with, or being in proximity to, these rodents. Like “The Black Death”, the plague, that is now being transmitted to humans in N. America directly from cats that have contracted it from rodents. Yes, “The Black Death” (the plague) is alive and well today and being spread by people’s cats this time around. Totally disproving that oft-spewed LIE about having more cats in Europe could have prevented the plague — more cats would have made it far far worse. Many people have already died from cat-transmitted plague in the USA in the last 2-3 decades; all three forms of it transmitted by CATS — septicemic, bubonic, and pneumonic. For a fun read, one of hundreds of cases, Cat-Transmitted Fatal Pneumonic Plague — www . ncbi . nlm . nih . gov / pubmed / 8059908
www . abcd-vets . org / Guidelines / Pages/EN-Other-Zoonoses-Feline-Plague . aspx
“Recommendations to avoid zoonotic transmission: Cats are considered the most important domestic animal involved in plague transmission to humans, and in endemic areas, outdoor cats may transmit the infection to their owners or to persons caring for sick cats (veterinarians and veterinary nurses).”
Cats attracting these adult rodents right to them further increasing the cat/rodent/disease density of this happy predator/prey balance. It has been documented many many times. The more cats you have the more rodents and diseases you get. I even proved this to myself when having to rid my lands of hundreds of these vermin cats by shooting and burying every last one of them. A rodent problem started to appear about the same time the cats started to show up, 15 years of it. And, if you check the history of Disney’s feral cat problem, their rodent problem also started to appear at the very same time their cats showed-up. Coincidence? Not at all. (BTW: All your beloved Disney’s TNR cats are no more, they’ve all been destroyed by hired exterminators this year. LOL) All rodent problems around my home completely disappeared after every last cat was shot-dead and safely disposed of. All the better NATIVE rodent predators moved back into the area after the cats were dead and gone. Not seen one cat anywhere nor had even one rodent in the house in six years now. (So much for their manipulative, deceptive, and outright lie of the mythical “vacuum effect” too.)
Cats DO NOT get rid of rodents. I don’t care how many centuries that fools will keep claiming that cats keep rodents in-check, they’ll still be wrong all these centuries. Civilizations of humans have come and gone in great cities like Egypt, yet their cats and rodents remain in even greater pestilent numbers.
No cat population anywhere has ever been able to control rodents effectively, in fact cats only attract a rodent problem. But native predators can get rid of rodents — easily.
Whatever. Go crazy with your “information”. We have had no cats and our rodent infestation is out of control.
Do YOU BOTH have a better solution than POISON?
Please let me know.