Category Archives: working cats

Working Cats Program – Putting Feral Cats to Work

By Linda Cole

Feral cat colonies are made up of cats that were born in the wild as well as lost or stray felines who find their way into a colony. Some of the cats are friendly, some are semi-feral, and some are feral with a distrust of humans. These kitties are accustomed to life on the streets, but it’s a challenge for them to find adequate food, water and shelter. Kindhearted humans who tend to colonies try to provide the necessities of life to a population of cats that lives in the shadows. An animal rescue and advocacy group has found a way to help feral cats and give them a chance for a home with The Working Cats Program.

The Voice for the Animals Foundation (VFTA) is a non-profit 501c3 organization in the San Francisco, California area. Their mission is to “create respect and empathy for animals through education, rescue, legislation and advocacy.” Melya Kaplan founded the VFTA in 1999 after witnessing far too many homeless cats and dogs wandering the streets of Venice. It motivated her to create a different kind of animal protection organization, one that helps feral cats find safe surroundings while also providing an important service to the community.
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Famous Cat Actors

By Langley Cornwell

There are plenty of famous animated cats in cartoons, on television and in the movies. We’re probably all familiar with the likes of Sylvester, Felix, Tigger, Oscar, Tom and Garfield, but what about live cat actors? It seems like the live dog actors get all the press. Even here, I recently wrote about Eddie, the dog from Frasier, and Toto but I’ve never given any space to live cat actors.

Granted, anybody that has ever shared their life with a cat knows it’s not easy to teach a cat to perform a task on command. For that reason, there are not as many famous cat actors to write about. Still, our feline thespians should get the recognition they deserve, so here is a little background on some famous cat actors.

Vito Vincent

A congenial orange tabby named Vito Vincent has achieved a level of fame and a reputation for being incredibly calm, even amidst the hustle and bustle of film and television sets. So far, Vito has gained recognition by being on high profile TV shows that film in New York, like 30 Rock and The Colbert Report. His owner and manager believes that Vito will get even bigger and better gigs in Hollywood, so they recently moved from the Big Apple to the West Coast so Vito could let his star shine bright.

Milo

In The Adventures of Milo & Otis, the cat actor and the dog actor got equal screen time. Oh well, at least the cat got top billing. In fact, The Adventures of Milo & Otis is a remake of a Japanese movie called Koneko Monogatari, which means A Kitten’s Story. Milo is an orange tabby kitten and her canine companion is a pug named Otis. Dudley Moore provides the voices of both characters and all of the actors are animals; no humans show up in this film. The movie reportedly took four years to complete due to the complexities of working strictly with animal actors – I wonder how many truckloads of training treats like CANIDAE TidNips and Snap-Bits were used to get the animals to do what they were supposed to?

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Of Mice and Cats (an American Classic)

By Rocky Williams

I’m currently serving time at the Fleabag Prison with two other feline felons, so I thought it might be fun to tell you a story from my ‘Verminator’ days. They’re just a memory for me now, because I’m under house arrest for ankle biting, toe nibbling, counter surfing and other unmentionable crimes. Hence, I have nothing but time to tell a little cat-and-mouse tale. Steinbeck, eat your heart out!

Once upon a time, I had a job as Chief Verminator of Rodent Valley, California. It was a wonderful place for felines, but not so much for humans since the mice, rats and gophers outnumbered them by the thousands. Catching a rodent was a daily event for me, but not because I took my job seriously. I mean really…what else did I have to do all day?

So one day I caught a rat and promptly took him inside so the Warden could see what a good job I was doing as Chief Verminator. I hoped she would reward me with some of that yummy FELIDAE kibble I’m crazy for, but when I dropped him at her feet she screamed “Rocky, get that THING out of here!” Her lack of appreciation for my wonderful gift was appalling. I proceeded to play two-paw soccer with my rat, which I’d named Ben, but after awhile I lost interest in this little game and looked away.

Unfortunately, Ben seized the opportunity to make a run for it, and he got away from me! The Warden saw Ben scamper behind the stove. I pretended that I didn’t see anything. Rat? What rat? Hmmm…I didn’t see a rat, did you?  I nonchalantly licked my paws and sauntered away.

The warden, mouth agape, stared at my backside as I ambled out of the room. I think I heard her calling after me. She might have said something like, “Rocky, come back here and get that THING out from behind the stove.” But if she had said that, what did she expect me to do? The space Ben crawled under is one inch at best, and I’m a big lad. I couldn’t fit under there even I’d wanted to go after him, which I didn’t.

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Working Cats, a.k.a. “the Verminators”

By Julia Williams

Much has been written about the various types of “working dogs” that provide a great service to mankind. I’ve done several articles on “dogs with jobs” myself, and CANIDAE sponsors dozens of exemplary working dogs in their Special Achievers program. But working cats? Other than certified therapy cats – like the delightful Guido the Italian Kitty – you don’t hear a lot about cats with jobs. Nevertheless, working cats do exist and are becoming increasingly more common. They may not undergo the same rigorous training as police dogs or search-and-rescue dogs, but these highly skilled “Verminators” provide an invaluable service.

Farmers have known for eons that cats are the best way to keep a rodent population under control. Cats are also being used at various historical sites, public gardens and museums to keep the grounds rodent free. An extra benefit of having working cats on the premises is that the visiting public enjoys them as well. When word gets out, cat lovers flock to tourist attractions that have kitties on patrol.

Here are just a few places that use working cats to keep the mice away.

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

Legend has it that there’s almost always been a cat living at the Alamo. A Mexican soldier’s diary told of a friendly feline roaming the grounds in 1836, the year of the famous battle. In 1981, guards rescued a stray kitten from a tree and she began joining them on their rounds. Upon her death the cat – christened Ruby LeGato – was buried on the grounds. Now the Alamo has another famous feline resident, a plucky black-and-white cat named C.C. who’s been patrolling the gardens for about 14 years.

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