Working Cats: Felines That Have Important Jobs and How to Get One

As your cat basks in the glow of the midday sun, you may wonder if felines ever do anything besides eat, play, and sleep. The truth is that cats are so domesticated now that some are spoiled beyond use for heavy-duty tasks such as pest control. My own cats have become so lazy that they don’t always bother to pick up the occasional annoying fly, but simply follow it with their eyes (which I also apparently do since the fly finally got away).

Unlike my cats, not all felines are lucky enough to live in loving homes where everything is provided for them. Some cats live on the street with the minimum necessary for life. They have never experienced the love of a human and are generally not suited to being good pets since they are partially wild. However, working cat programs can give these cats a second chance when they are caught in trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs and find themselves unable to be released back into their former environments.

What is a working cat?

A working cat is a feline that is “employed” as an alternative to harsh chemicals to combat parasites. This is a symbiotic relationship between humans and felines, as humans are able to eradicate rats and cats generally enjoy a much better lifestyle than they are accustomed to. Working cats typically come from shelters through the TNR program. Under this plan, feral cats in the community are captured, sterilized, treated with medications and vaccines if necessary, and then ideally released into the wild.

However, sometimes there is a major reason why they cannot return home. Maybe they lived in a rundown shed that’s now demolished, or maybe whoever tipped off animal control hated cats in the first place. If the cat is in poor health, it may not be able to be released either. Not knowing humans, feral cats who cannot return home are at serious risk of being put on the euthanasia list since they cannot be adopted either.

Most community animal shelters or humane societies have a working cat or feral cat program in place to save these animals that would otherwise fall through the cracks. These cats are often called “barn cats” or “warehouse” cats, denoting their typical workplaces. A working cat catches mice as it did in the wild, but on the grounds of a farm, church, or warehouse. Otherwise, that facility would have to implement other pest control measures that might not be as healthy for their crops or congregation, such as chemical pesticides.

A Maine Coon cat chasing a mouse outdoors

How to get a working cat

If you have a pest control problem in your business or have a facility such as a small farm that requires constant maintenance, you may consider contacting your local humane society to inquire about their feral cat program. Just know that the process is a little different than adopting a pet.

Feral cat adoptions are generally free. However, it often happens that you have to bring at least two cats, and you are not necessarily allowed to choose which ones. Feral cats are afraid of humans and do not tolerate people “shopping” in their shelter all day, so the staff usually selects the cats to relieve them of the stress of constant visitors.

To adopt a wild cat, you will need to ensure that you can always provide:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Litter
  • An enclosure or shelter sheltered from rain or bad weather

This list constitutes the “minimum wage” for your working cat. Some cats may even develop a friendship with their employer, although they are not as friendly as devoted house cats.

What is a therapy cat?

I enjoy cat cuddles all day long (even now, as I write this article), but they are especially appreciated whenever I’m feeling lonely or upset. Therapy cats use their purring abilities to bring calming and healing benefits to the people they encounter. They are often taken to nursing homes to comfort residents who feel lonely.

Unfortunately, the current Americans with Disabilities Act only grants the title of service animal to dogs, which means there are many restrictions on where a therapy cat can go. For example, no laws currently allow felines to visit restaurants or grocery stores, nor do they unconditionally allow cats in public places. However, a trained and licensed therapy cat can be admitted to specific hospitals, schools and other public places where they can work if their owners obtain prior approval.


How to Train Your Cat as a Therapy Cat

Cats and their owners must complete several hours of supervised training and pass individual inspections to qualify as a therapy team. If you are interested, research organizations like Love on a leash for more details and requirements.

How to adopt an ESA

Since they do not have the full rights of a service animal, therapy cats essentially function as emotional support animals (ESA) for the community. Individuals can also acquire an emotional support cat to provide comfort day and night. There are no strict requirements for registering a cat as an ESA, and you can even register a pet you already own, but you will need a letter of recommendation from a cat professional. mental health approved to be eligible for registration. Since there really are no qualifications for the type of cat, you can try visiting your shelter and asking a calm demeanor feline to serve as your ESA if you don’t currently have a cat.

The benefits of registering your cat as an ESA include fewer housing restrictions. Under the Fair Housing Act, your landlord must accept an ESA under their roof without requiring a pet deposit, even if the home is not considered “pet-friendly.” Only a few exceptions apply, for example if the owner also lives in the house or if the complex is intended for a residence for the elderly. Some airlines may also allow emotional support cats to fly in the cabin at no extra cost, although this practice has been declining in recent years.

Just for fun: cats can be booksellers too

Cats can play a central role in pest control and therapeutic assistance, but they can also bring their community together around a shared love of felines and fiction.

THE thick black cat looked at me from the deep, old-fashioned window of the haunted bookstore in Mobile, Alabama. He was taking a nap, but when he noticed he had a customer, he crawled out of his daybed and came over to greet me. Affectionate, he rubbed his body against my hand and impatiently awaited the caresses lavished on him.

After my friend and I sang it for a while, the human bookseller behind the counter told me his name was Mr. Bingley. I immediately appreciated its prestigious name, which comes from Jane Austen’s word Pride and Prejudice, and seemed suitable for the resident bookstore cat. I can attest that Mr. Bingley takes his job very seriously, creating connections with customers so they don’t want to leave the store. If you search the store on Google Maps, you’ll see that “cat” is actually the most mentioned word in reviews of the bookstore, and some people have joked that he’s the most overworked employee . I hope he wins employee of the month.


They may try to trick us into taking long naps on the couch, but cats are capable of doing many different types of jobs, depending on the cat in question. Even your own cat can be registered as an emotional support animal if you obtain a letter of recommendation from a licensed mental health professional. Wild felines that are not suitable for adoption may be enrolled in a local working cat program, where they are guaranteed at least food, water, bedding and shelter in exchange of parasite capture.

Some cats, like the affectionate Mr. Bingley, can take odd jobs as a bookseller or gardener like Mrs. Norris in the Harry Potter trilogy. Although felines currently do not enjoy the same service animal protections as dogs, cats can serve as therapy animals in certain settings, provided they are trained, registered, and licensed. particularity of the hospital or school where they will be. to visit.

Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory


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