Homeless Cats are Helping Reduce a Rising Rat Population

What an amazing idea. Let us gather up all the homeless cats and have them help us attack a rising rat population. Because obviously having too many rats is a big problem. After all, aren’t rats notorious for spreading nasty things like disease? At least history tells us that.

Let us consider Miso, a feral cat who will soon prowl streets and alleys for his prey. He will be patrolling an alley in Washington, D.C. that is infested with rats. He assigned to a neighborhood almost every single plastic trash bin has holes from the rats biting through them.

Miso is going to help out the community. Miso is assigned here for around three weeks and will have shelter and food as a great incentive to hang around after he is released from his cage.  All he needs to do is start catching those rats.

Actually, these feral cats are only one type of animal that big cities are using to kill rats. New York has been using rat-hunting terriers, dachshunds, and mutt owners to clean rats from the streets. Chicago has actually used some urban coyotes for the task. While all these animals are not any part of an official city program, but these cities are willing to try anything that will kill rats. Of course, the remaining mystery is just much help they will provide.

Using Cats Against Rats

“My position [on the cats] is if it works, that helps us,” stated Gerard Brown, a man that manages the DC rat control program. Calls about rats over the city hotline have increased over 30 percent over the past three years, something that Brown blames on mild winters that have occurred over the last few years. “Usually when winters are cold, that acts as a natural exterminator,” he claims. In the year 2016 Mayor Muriel Bowser has heard all the complaints about rats and has declared a renewed war on them.

Two Ways of Reducing Rat Populations

When you get right down to it, there are two primary ways to reduce rat populations. The first way would be restricting the food supply of the rats, and this is usually garbage in most big cities. Ecologists refer to this as a bottom-up method. The second way to reduce rat numbers is known as the top-down approach, which is to bring in a predator, in this case a feline, which will help kill off the rats.

The mayor decided to implement a Rat Riddance program to attack these rodents on every front. DC city workers have also been suffocating rats right in their own burrows by utilizing dry-ice pellets which will release carbon dioxide. Brown tells us that a burrow can have anywhere from 9 to 15 rats. And finally, city workers are now deploying brand new rat-resistant garbage cans as well.

And then we have the feral cats that are operating separately from official city efforts. Our boy Miso happens to be the 44th feline to be hired through their Blue Collar Cats system, which was launched by nonprofit Humane Rescue Alliance. The Blue Collar Cats people go out and catch feral cats, they then neuters them and give them vaccination before releasing them right back into their natural habitat, which are the alleys and streets of Washington, D.C.

Local business owners and homeowners have agreed to furnish these cats with food and covered shelter outdoors. And in return, these hired cats will utilize their God given instincts as rodent predators. Most people are not aware that cats will usually hunt even if they are being fed.  The program strongly discourages withholding food from them, thinking that hungry cats kill more rats – this is simple wrong.