29 June 2015

Your Feel Good Story of the Day (With Cats)

Someone has found a way to "re-task" feral cats in animal shelters that would otherwise have to be euthanized have been fixed, and deployed to areas for rodent patrol:
Like the characters played by the actor who inspired his name, Pacino was no scaredy cat. The brown tabby had prowled the streets of Los Angeles, a drifter scraping for his next meal.

After the cat was turned in at an L.A. County animal services shelter, there was little hope that Pacino would be adopted. He was too distrustful, too fierce, too mean.

Then Melya Kaplan came along, looking for a cat with grit, street smarts and attitude.

The 10-pound, 6-ounce cat would become the nighttime warden at the Original L.A. Flower Market, making sure rodents and other vermin didn't get out of hand. He's part of a group of tough cats recruited by an animal rights nonprofit to find homes in places that could use their hard-scrabble qualities. Along with another cat named DeNiro, Pacino would prowl the Italian side of the flower market. Of course.

"Mother Nature doesn't make mistakes," said Kaplan, executive director of Voice for the Animals. "We probably just haven't found a purpose for it yet."
As part of the Working Cats program, street cats like Pacino are rescued from animal shelters and sent to locations ranging from police stations, like the LAPD's Wilshire and Foothill divisions, to private homes, businesses and schools. Over the years, the program has placed about 500 cats in nearly 50 locations.

Kaplan, a frequent customer of the market, developed the program in 1999 when Carl Jones, a market employee, told her about the rats in the workplace. Exterminators would spray the warehouse with poison, but the vermin remained. Every so often, a customer would spot a pair of beady eyes hidden in the row of flowers.


About 15 years ago, Kaplan made a proposition to Yamabe. She would deliver three cats to the flower market to get rid of the rats. And if they could not take care of the rodents, she would take them back.

The market currently has 15 cats, and Jones and Yamabe said they do not see any rats.

Kaplan attributes the program's success to the simple fact that adding a predator to an environment will scare away its prey. Once rodents smell a cat on the prowl, they go somewhere else, she said.

"It's not anything new. People used to have barn cats or church cats to keep out rodents," Kaplan said. "We just brought [it] to the city, and it seems to be really working."

Yamabe remembered one gray cat that died after several years of service patrolling the second-floor parking lot. Within days, the rats returned and Yamabe needed to call for another cat.


For a cat like Pacino, living in a warehouse almost certainly adds years to his life. Living on the streets is tough on any sentient being, including a cat. Kaplan said cats that might have lived fewer than five years on the streets can live more than 14 years in a home, business or police station. They're given meals and the buildings give them protection from bad weather, dogs and cars.


Kaplan said that in time, some of her more veteran cats got used to being around people and became house cats. That, in turn, created space for other cats to be rescued by the program.

"We're saving cats and helping people. And it's always great when the two grow closer together and we can place another cat," she said. "It's what I call a win-win-win."
I'm asking my reader(s) to help me here, and come up with a drawing, or a photoshop, of a cat wearing a beat cop or night watchman uniform.

The internet needs this.


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