In an attempt to combat the city’s rat epidemic, a Chicago animal shelter is said to have released over 1,000 feral cats into the streets.
The “Cats at Work” program was established after pest control company Orkin named Chicago as the rattiest city for the sixth year in a row, with New York coming in third after Los Angeles.
Tree House Humane Society’s Community Cats Program Manager Sarah Liss told Fox News on Thursday that the organization had found the cats making a positive impact on Chicago streets long before the Cats at Work program began.
She said that the rat population was “significantly decreasing and even going away for a lot of folks who [were] taking care of [the] cats,” which is when Tree House “put two-and-two together.”
The Tree House Humane Society hopes that its initiative will help to replace rats with cats while also emphasizing that it is compassionate to the felines, who would otherwise face lengthy stays in shelters and, in some cases, euthanasia.
“These are feral cats who wouldn’t thrive in a home or shelter environment,” the program, which has been running since 2012, was insisted upon by the society, reports NY Post.
“By placing them in Cats at Work colonies, we’re able to make sure they’re living their best lives,” it said.
The cats have also been neutered, despite being feral, to “create a net positive impact on the small animal population of Chicago,” according to the society.
Cats in the program are handled for the rest of their lives with the help of Tree House, as required by Cook County’s 2007 Managed Care of Feral Cats Ordinance.
While the cats have been known to hunt and capture rats on occasion, their mere presence in society deters disease-carrying rodents.
Other strategies, such as poison and traps, are short-term and mostly ineffective, as per Tree House since rodents have a constant food supply and burrows are easily repopulated.
The cats are all vaccinated against diseases like rabies, and the society claims cats are much better than allowing mice to run wild.
“While feral cats do kill rats, often their pheromones are enough to scare rats away,” the society said.