January 6, 2008

Cats Hired For Patrol By Los Angeles Police

Usually I read about all the problems with feral cats and what to do about them. Some suggestions are enough to make me build a soap box.
For time eternal, we've heard that we have too many cats. The truth is ... we do. However, spaying/neutering cures that. But in the meantime we also have too many rats.
Well, hallelujah, somebody in Los Angeles finally figured out that cats are useful in our world ... that they have a purpose.
Enter ... The Los Angeles Police Department:
They have recently "hired"
feral cats to control the rats in the department. (I mean as in ... rodents.) It is called the "Working Program".
To be honest, they didn't need to have so many City Council meetings to come to the conclusion that cats make history ... of rats.
I have "Mouse-Trap" in my own barn that could have proven that without tax payer money.

Well, on with the story ... as it appeared in the Los Angeles Times.


LAPD Enlists Feral Cats For Rat Patrol
By Carla Hall,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 29, 2007

They are the homeless of the domestic animal world -- colonies of feral cats that roam residential neighborhoods and lurk around office buildings and commercial garages, scavenging for food.

Unlike other strays that might rub up against a leg hoping for a crumb or a head rub, these felines are so unaccustomed to human contact that they dart away when people approach. Feral cats cannot be turned into house pets. When they end up in municipal shelters, they have little hope of coming out alive.

But one animal welfare group has figured out a way to save their lives and put them to work in Los Angeles. The Working Cats program of Voice for the Animals, a Los Angeles-based animal advocacy and rescue group, has placed feral cats in a handful of police stations with rodent problems, just as the group placed cats in the rat-plagued downtown flower district several years ago -- to great effect.

Six feral cats were recently installed as ratters in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Police Department's Southeast Division, and another group will be housed at the Central Division early in the new year.

Rats had been burrowing into the equipment bags that bicycle officers stored in outside cages; inside the facility, mice were sometimes scurrying across people's desks."

Once we got the cats, problem solved," said Cmdr. Kirk Albanese, a captain at the Wilshire station at the time. "I was almost an immediate believer."

The cats don't generally solve the rodent problem by killing rats and mice -- although the cats are game for doing so if they catch them. Rather, the cats simply leave their scent.

Once rodents get a whiff of feline presence, like gangsters under a gang injunction, they move on."It's the smell of the cat and the cat urine," said animal rescuer Jane Garrison, a member of Voice for the Animals' board, who selected the half dozen feral cats for the Southeast station.

Sandra Magdaleno feeds and cares for the
Southeast station patrol cats in Los Angeles

According to Garrison, it takes about 30 days for a feral cat to be comfortable enough to consider a new location home turf. Garrison said the Working Cats program can be used anywhere.

"We are willing to put cats in any safe area -- businesses, hotels, industrial parks, even residences -- and we will do that for free."

Soon the ferals may get a chance to work their magic on the legions of rats that make their home behind Parker Center, the Central LA Police Department.

"They're coming out of everywhere," said Officer April Harding, who works in media relations. "One time I stood in the parking lot and just watched in horror, like it was a movie."

Thom Brennan, commanding officer of facilities management for the LAPD, said, "Nobody was more skeptical about it than I was. It sounds like too easy a fix. But everywhere it's been done, it's worked. . . . I think I'm convinced it's a viable program that will help us."

There has never been a shortage of people willing to care for the cats at any station.

"If I were a wild cat, that would be a great job," he said. "Your meals are there, your housing is there, you're at a police station so you're safe."


  1. Great story and for once a victory for common sense by the sound of it. Pity there isn't more of it about:)

  2. It warmed the cockles of my heart this story about putting feral cats to good use instead of putting them down. We all have a purpose in life, cats are no exception. ;-)

  3. Wonderful story. I have had up to 12 cats in my barn, some arriving on their own, some born there and some just dumped. Feline leukemia is a big problem with feral cats here and cayotees (sp!) so over the years I have lost all but four of the boys, who have been spayed/neutered and I have had no new arrivals in a while. They do their job keeping the mice and rats out of the feed and I enjoy having them there. Of course they have all been photographed a thousand times too LOL.



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