Awhile back in 10 Purrfect Jobs for Cats, I discussed careers that would suit a feline’s nature. Because every job seeker – cats included – must be aware of their shortcomings as well as their strengths, I decided to explore a few careers that felines would fail famously. I should add a disclaimer though: some of these job fails might only apply to me, i.e. all cats might not be as unemployable as yours truly.
Imagine the scene: a huge pile of a freshly laundered clothes and towels is laid out on a table, ready to be neatly folded and put away. What would any cat do? We’d climb right to the top of that pile and proceed to catnap for hours, that’s what!
Butler or Maid
We cats do not wait on people. Ever! Can you imagine? Even if we had opposable thumbs and could admirably perform the duties of a butler or a maid, I don’t know a single feline who would. Our view of the world is that we are the ones to be waited on hand and paw by the humans, and this has worked quite well for us for eons. What fool would ever challenge that?
When my human aims her camera at me, I turn my head. I can’t help it! Catching sight of the flashy beast triggers some sort of reflex, as though I’ll be turned to stone if I actually look straight at it. So the major reason by human never shares photos of me here or on her Facebook page is that 99% of them are of the back of my head. A profile photo of me is a stroke of luck, and a full on, look at the camera pose is as rare as an albino alligator (look it up!)
A while back, a certain feline wrote about 10 Purrfect Jobs for Cats. Rocky’s position, I believe, was that there are plenty of jobs cats could do admirably well but that most felines think work is beneath them and looking cute is all they need to do to have us humans wrapped around their paw. I would agree with that last part; Rocky doesn’t lift a claw to help me around the house and yet…I am definitely smitten with the furry boy.
That being said, there actually are some cats with jobs, and mighty important ones at that. Cats have, in fact, been working for us for a very long time. Their skill at keeping the mice and insects away from the granaries in ancient Egypt likely contributed to their high place of honor in that society. Many farmers employ barn cats even today, but rodent control isn’t the only job felines can do. Here are three working cats with very interesting jobs.
Station Master Tama
A calico cat named Tama is the first feline to become an official railroad executive. Tama is the station master and Operating Officer of the Kishi Station in Wakayama, Japan. Moreover, this hardworking feline has been on the job for eight years! In 2006, the Wakayama Electric Railway Company converted all stations on the Kishigawa Line to unmanned posts to cut costs. Station masters were chosen from local businesses, and grocer Toshiko Koyama was selected for Kishi. Koyama adopted the stray kitty and fed her at the station.
In 2007, railway officials seeking ways to boost ridership decided to officially name Tama the station master. It worked brilliantly! Ridership increased dramatically as tourists flocked to see the cute cat. It’s a cushy job, apparently, as Station Master Tama’s primary duties consist of lounging in her office, greeting passengers and posing for photos. Although she doesn’t collect a paycheck, the railway does supply Tama with free cat food.
Tama became the symbol of the railway and still attracts scores of tourists today. In 2008, Tama was given an award for providing an estimated 1.1 billion yen ($10.8 million) economic boost to the region. Now a spry senior at 16, Tama has earned the right to work less and relax more, logging just four days a week and getting help from two “junior station masters” who are, of course, also cats.
An orange Manx cat named Stubbs has served as honorary mayor of a small town in Alaska for 16 years. Talkeetna, a hub for bush pilots to ferry climbers onto Mount McKinley, was reportedly the inspiration for the quirky town of Cicely, Alaska in the 1990s TV show Northern Exposure. So naturally, having a cat for mayor wasn’t a stretch for a town that embraced its reputation for eccentricity.
The roughly 900 residents elected Stubbs as a write-in candidate since he seemed better suited for the job than the human contenders. They say Stubbs is the best mayor the town has ever had, and he’s frequently spotted making the rounds around town.
Unfortunately for Stubbs, his political career hasn’t been all sunshine and roses – over the years he has been shot with a BB gun, mauled by a dog, and fallen into a restaurant’s fryer. Word on the street is that these unfortunate incidents were all assassination attempts by a political opponent. Nevertheless, Stubbs is still on the job, and unlike some human politicians, still maintains a high approval rating after many years of service.
Police Officer Lemon
When an itty bitty stray kitten wandered into the Yoro police station in Kyota, Japan, he was warmly received by the officers, who immediately made him an honorary member of the force. Now a fully grown mancat, Lemon wears a custom-stitched uniform and mostly works a desk job at the station (rather, he keeps the other cops company and chills out on any desk he pleases).
Sometimes he gets to go out on ride-alongs with the officers to help calm people in distress and offer a little feline comfort to victims of a crime. “Purr Therapy” is what every cat does best, so even though Police Officer Lemon is just doing what comes naturally, I think he’s a shining example of a working cat!
Do you know of any other cats with jobs we should feature here?
I’ve heard that term “working dog” an awful lot in my 12 years. It seems you humans are highly impressed with dogs who have jobs. Moreover, those perpetually eager-to-please canines are apparently contributing to society and their “master’s” household in a multitude of ways. The same cannot be said of cats. We aim to please only one – ourselves – and we have no masters, only “staff.”
Still, I’m not convinced that those mangy canines are the only ones who can hold down a job. If I wanted to, I could quit catnapping all day and get a job. That’s a big IF, though. Historically, the term working cats is more of an oxymoron than a reality. But I don’t think it’s because cats aren’t perfectly capable of doing certain jobs. We just don’t see the point. I mean… the stinky goodness makes it into our food bowls whether we work or not. Why should we? Looking unbearably cute is “contribution” enough, am I right?
I said as much to my Warden, and she had the audacity to laugh! I pretended to be mad at her, but she’s my cat food supplier, so that didn’t last long. In the end, I thought purrhaps I could just pretend to look for a job and it might mollify her. So I put my paws together and came up with 10 jobs I’d excel at, IF I were so inclined to actually work (which I’m not).
Massage Therapist – Cats are a natural at kneading, and most of us do this on our human’s body already, no oil needed! Just get me a massage table, and I’m all set.
Household “Snoopervisor” – Whether the Warden is cooking, reading, writing, bathing or paying bills, I need to be right there, making sure she is doing it right.
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. Read More »
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.
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.
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?
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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