Feral Cats Find Work With LAPD
LOS ANGELES – With the help of a local animal outreach group, feral felines in LA are being enlisted to help quell rodent problems at area law enforcement buildings.
According to the LA Times, the Working Cat Program (WCP) is an effort to provide usefulness for the cats, spread awareness about their existence and help the community overcome its rodent issues. And as it turns out, the cats are pros when it comes to keeping house.
WCP is run by the Voice for the Animals Foundation, an LA based group that's dedicated to providing care and outreach for all animals.
The modus operandi is fairly simple. Take a feral colony out of its normal area, acclimate them to an area with a rodent problem, provide food and water and they'll do the rest.
Becky Robinson, President of the Washington D.C. based feral cat organization Alley Cat Allies said, "This type of program shows how cats can play a role in our society. It shows you that they have a purpose for being on this planet, a reason to be around us even if they don't walk up to you and lick your hand."
The program first began a few years ago, when downtown LA's flower district became overrun with rodents. Soon after the cats came in, it was rat-free in no time.
The program is positive for a number of reasons. First off, it's a great alternative to turning the cats over to shelters. As is commonly known amongst shelter workers (but not to many other people), feral cats often can't be re-socialized. Since they're, “un-adoptable,” many end up euthanized. Keeping a colony together is the best alternative.
And to limit growth of feral populations, Trap-Neuter-Return standards are used before the animals are relocated. That includes ear clipping.
Another benefit is the rodent problem is resolved naturally. In most cases, traps or poisons would be used. But those require constant monitoring and are toxic to anything that eats them. Cats, on the other hand, need only mark their territory and the rodents relocate. Oh, and the cats do catch a snack from time to time.
For those of you wondering how the cats are fed, VFTA sets up on-site stations where supplies can be housed. There's also a volunteer at each site who feeds and waters the animals daily.
So far, a handful of LA's police facilities are utilizing the cats – about six at each location. And although that doesn't completely solve the problem, it's hoped that other businesses and organizations will join the cause. Of course, only if the location is deemed appropriate by VFTA reps.
Because feral cats will go to any length to return to their old haunts, there's a break-in period of about 30 days at the new site. During that time, the animals remain together in a confined space – safe from the outside - where they can be monitored and easily cared for.
After the month passes, they're released into their new home. VFTA reps say it doesn't take long before they're out exploring their new areas.
Feral cats can live almost anywhere. That includes places with inclement weather, so as long as the cats have a warm place to hide out, there are few locales that wouldn't be appropriate.
With so little public knowledge on the truth about feral cats, rescue groups say they hope this and other similar programs will tip the scales in the cats' favor. After all, they can be a bit of a nuisance when unmonitored. Put them to work, and all that changes.
Find out more about Voice for the Animals' program at vftafoundation.org/workingcats.htm. To learn more about feral cats, go to the Alley Cat Allies Web site at alleycat.org.
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