For International Cat Day we’re celebrating all felines, not just house pets, but working cats that provide pest control to businesses across the D.C. region!
Cats that grew up on the street and were never socialized have been “put to work” by the Humane Rescue Alliance’s Blue Collar Cats program. The program has placed more than 400 cats with different businesses, acting as a rodent deterrent that is “a cleaner alternative to toxic pesticides, they’re less expensive, and more effective,” according to the HRA’s website.
Two employers of these working cats, Danielle LaPalme at R. Bratti Associates stone fabricators and Tracy Stanndard at Broad Branch Market, told WTOP about what wonderful mouse deterrents their Blue Collar Cats are.
Rocky, a friendly gray cat that is constantly featured on the business’ Instagram, patrols R. Bratti Associates’ office and warehouse in Alexandria, Virginia. LaPalme said workers used to hear “mice scuttering around,” but once Rocky started working there, they “haven’t had any issues with mice.”
Rocky is also the exception to most Blue Collar Cats, and has become incredibly social.
“He’s like the most people-friendly cat I’ve met,” LaPalme said. “I used to have my own cats and they won’t let me pick them up. I can pick up Rocky and carry him around like a little baby.”
LaPalme said everyone at the office loves Rocky’s friendly demeanor, but HRA said that if a Blue Collar Cat becomes too social and “you prefer not to develop personal relationships with your employees,” a cat can easily be re-homed into a more social environment and you can get a more “aloof” rat-catcher.
Stanndard said the two cats, Mac and Cheese, that live at the local D.C. market she owns are not as comfortable with humans.
“Our cats don’t even want you to see them, like if you look at them, they run,” Stanndard said.
Mac and Cheese have a whole set up underneath the small grocery store, in the extensive basement.
“So we have cat toys and a climbing tree for them down there,” Stanndard said. “We have little beds under the shelves and things for them.”
Stanndard said the store struggled with mice that got into their fresh bread, pasta and chocolate bars before the cats arrived. The pair killed a few mice at first and now mainly act as a deterrent, keeping mice away from the shop altogether.
With the mouse problem solved, Mac has developed an affinity for their security cameras, Stanndard said.
“He likes a security camera,” she said. “You know, we can see him on the video playing all night.”
To hire a Blue Collar Cat at your business, you can fill out the Humane Rescue Alliance’s online application form. There is no adoption fee required, but employers will have to cover costs of the cat’s acclimation setup, which should include a large dog crate and a winter cat shelter.
Specific questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this reporting.
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