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Shelter Is Putting Cats To Work To Make Them More Desirable

AP / Matt Rourke

Cranky cats at an animal shelter are getting a lesson in desirability after being put to work.

Philadelphia’s Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT) created the Working Cats program, where unadoptable felines are given jobs as pest control at various establishments, including barns, stables, and breweries.

The program began four years ago, placing cats with behavioral issues at factories and warehouses to chase its unwanted mice. The cats are microchipped, vaccinated, and presented as free labor.

“Part of the reason cats became domesticated was to get rid of the rodent population,” Ame Dorminy, a spokeswoman for ACCT told the Associated Press. “We took advantage of their natural propensity to hunt and made an official program out of it.”

A win-win situation, the fuzzy felines are given room and board, and businesses become rodent-free.

Cats who are suitable for the Tom & Jerry dream are kept in a separate section titled Time to Adjust or TTA for short. The cats' qualifications are listed on each cage, which include hissing, swatting, spitting, and refusal to be picked up.

The animal shelter acknowledges while some cats would not succeed as a family pet, they are still capable of living a gratifying life.

“A lot of these cats feel more comfortable when they can be themselves and use natural behaviors,” Dorminy said. “Then they’re more open to human interaction because they feel more confident.”

These felines have become a hit in the workforce, with many owners coming forward with their own satisfying experiences.

Gary, a pure white cat with behavioral issues, was chosen by Bella Vista Beer Distributors as their official mouse chaser.

Owner Jordan Fetfatzes said he discovered mice chewing through about 15 bags of chips an evening, leaving a mess and forcing staff to throw the goods out.

An employee discovered ACCT's project online, and after multiple failed attempts to rid the business of rodents through exterminators, decided to try out the program.

Fetfatzes said Gary would hiss from the crate and stay in the office until after hours. He would only go into the warehouse when people weren't around.

After a few weeks, he became acclimatized with his environment and even became sweet and playful with the customers and staff. As for work, Gary is an all-star employee, officially eradicating all the mice from the business grounds.

“You’re not only saving your business money, you are helping save the life of an unwanted pet,” he said. “And in this case, we made a friend.”

Todd Curry, the vice president of sales for the Emerald Windows, said hundreds rats would frequently riffle through the dumpster next to their showroom, likening it to the film Ratatouille.

When traps failed to work, Curry recruited Shelley from ACCT’s program. After proving herself as a fierce rat hunter, rodents have fearfully stayed away.

Brought to the shelter for biting her former family's children, Shelley has transformed into alovable cat, who constantly seeks love and attention.

“The only reason she was here was for the rats, but it has turned into a lot more than that,” Curry said, adding she functions as a workplace stress reliever.

“It’s nice to see these cats put to use, not put down,” he said.

Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com