By Wendy Young
Last Updated May 12, 2021

It appears the cautionary tale of The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly doesn’t always ring true. In particular, when it comes to controlling the rat population of a heavily urbanized city. That is, without placing a constant stream of poison everywhere, and risking harm to the rest of the city’s domestic – and wild – inhabitants.

Instead, the city of Chicago has decided to take an old-school approach to an old-school problem. By releasing over 1,000 cats into the streets, these mousers will take an organic, all-natural approach to tackling the rat problem.

The Tree House Humane Society, as a part of its Cats at Work programme, have offered up their residents to handle the surplus of rodents. Speaking to WGN, Sarah Liss of the society said “We’ve had a lot of our clients tell us that before they had cats, they would step outside their house and rats would actually run across their feet.”

The cats that have been used in the programme had been deemed to be too feral to be rehomed. Or, sadly, too wild to find a forever home with others. Instead, they are caught before being neutered or spayed, then released back into problem areas.

“Cats are placed two or three at a time into residential or commercial settings in order to provide environmentally friendly rodent control,” the shelter said. “Property and business owners provide food, water, shelter, and wellness to the cats who work for them. In most cases, our Cats at Work become beloved members of the family or team and some even have their own Instagram pages.”

While the rat-and-cat arrangement may seem a little harsh, the cats actually don’t do that much killing. While one or two may find themselves at the mercy of their claws, it’s actually simply the presence of the cat which can act as a deterrent for the rats. The pheromones that the cats release are often picked up by the rats, who then know to stay away from the area.

A freelance writer and word nerd, Wendy is a content writer with a knack for getting into the nitty-gritty of pet ownership. For the past three years, she’s been researching and writing a huge range of different topics – but always comes back to her beloved pet articles. Lover of all things four-legged and owner of Harley, Pepper and Rush, Wendy is currently completing her MNSW at Edge Hill University.

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