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“Since they’re not ideal pets but do a great job at deterring and controlling rodents, HRA will put them to work in local businesses to control the rodent population.”

by Prince Of Petworth March 15, 2017 at 3:30 pm 42 Comments

hra blue collar

Since there were not cats in the animal fix… [and textdoc, wasn’t there just a Dear PoPville asking about something like this?]

From a press release:

“The Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) has launched the Blue Collar Cats Program, an initiative developed to find alternative opportunities for outdoor cats, or “community cats,” to live – and work – in our community. HRA is soliciting area companies that may have, or potentially have, rodents interfering with their business and matching them with a cat that will make that business their ‘home,’ patrolling the surroundings to keep rodents at bay.

“Prior to Blue Collar Cats, cats who have had little to no human interaction, and therefore were unsocialized and likely not the ideal adoption candidate, had few options,” said Lauren Lipsey, HRA Vice President of Community Programs. “Now, through this program’s collaboration with local businesses and homeowners, we are able to save even more animals and support their right to a long and fruitful life.”

“Previously homeless and unemployed, Oreo was brought to me as a rescue outdoor cat. After a few weeks of acclimation in his crate, he was released and now happily patrols my back deck area for rats. I haven’t seen a sign of rats in weeks. Rats used to cross my deck at night – I’d like to see them try that now!”
Eva R., DuPont Circle

The cats selected for this program have shown no characteristics typical of what our adopters expect in a companion animal and are not adoptable. Since they’re not ideal pets but do a great job at deterring and controlling rodents, HRA will put them to work in local businesses to control the rodent population.

Added benefits for working with Blue Collar Cats: Blue Collar Cats are a cleaner alternative to toxic pesticides; they are less expensive, and more effective in addressing the rodent problem. But perhaps the best benefit: these businesses are saving the life of a cat that may have no other option.

After trying every deterrent in the book, we went old school and hired a couple of rescue cats. I can only presume the 24-hour presence of our security guards, Tamale and Melora, have turned our shop into a forbidden zone for rats. Also, folks really dig being greeted by our cats when they enter the shop!
City Bikes, Adams Morgan

There are no upfront costs for businesses. All cats have been spayed/neutered, microchipped, eartipped, and vaccinated against rabies and feline distemper. The business’s responsibility is to provide daily food and clean water, shelter, and basic care throughout the cat’s lifetime.

Businesses and homeowners that participate in the program will be assisted by HRA Community Cat specialists during the introduction of the cat to her new environment. Curious to see if you might have a place where a Blue Collar Cat can be put to work? Visit www.bluecollarcats.org to learn more and sign up to receive additional information.

The creative campaign for Blue Collar Cats was created on a pro bono basis by RP3 Agency, a branding and creative firm in Bethesda, Maryland. RP3 developed the Blue Collar Cats name and designed a DC-centric campaign focusing on posters and collateral that feature a take on the historic “go-go” music-themed posters and placards that were prevalent throughout Washington, DC and surrounding areas during the height of go-go’s popularity.”

  • L.

    Sure, why not? Good luck to all involved!

  • textdoc

    Sounds like a good idea! IIRC, HRA has previously made community cats available to serve as “barn cats”… but in D.C. there are a lot of non-barn buildings/areas that could use community cats in this manner.

    “[and textdoc, wasn’t there just a Dear PoPville asking about something like this?]” — Hmm… if there was, it’s not ringing any bells for me. The closest match I can think of is this post:
    .
    https://www.popville.com/2016/10/wtf-im-no-animal-expert-but-isnt-that-what-cats-like-to-do/

    • FridayGirl

      Ah, I just saw this after I posted my comment below. We were thinking of the same thing. I think this is ironic.

      • textdoc

        Yeah — I think the difference is that HRA doesn’t want to adopt out friendly cats to indoor homes where the would-be cat owner mainly wants a mouser. It doesn’t mind adopting out not-so-friendly cats to outdoor (or indoor-outdoor homes) where businesses specifically want a mouser, since those cats wouldn’t otherwise be adoptable.

        • textdoc

          Actually, it looks like this program is open to homeowners too, not just businesses… but for homeowners who are seeking an outdoor cat for rodent control.

        • textdoc

          I was re-reading the Oct. 2016 posting, and in that case, the person seeking a mouser was turned down by a rescue group. I don’t know whether HRA would also turn down a mouser-seeker.

    • houseintherear

      This is a solution to the problem of having to euthanize cats that are not adopted/are not adoptable due to their disposition. Most rescue groups do not have cats of this nature, because many cats of this nature are euthanized. So no, you cannot adopt a “mouser” from a rescue group, or from the HRA shelter floor or a foster home. But now, thanks to HRA’s good thinking, you can employ a blue collar cat. There is a big difference.

      • textdoc

        Agreed. It doesn’t make sense to adopt a friendly, sociable cat primarily to be a mouser, but it does make sense to “employ” an otherwise unadoptable “blue collar cat” to be a mouser.
        .
        Rescue groups tend to focus on rescuing animals from high-kill shelters in West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland — usually, animals that are perfectly adoptable, but that are unlikely to be adopted because those shelters are in rural areas with less demand for shelter pets.
        .
        IIRC, for the past 8 or so years, the HRA has been pretty big on doing TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) of community cats who aren’t suited for adoption. Which means its euthanization rate is already on the low side, but this is a good way to get it lower — and also to provide a community cat with a specific job and (more importantly) shelter and regular food/water.

  • bruno

    We have them around the hood. They do a good job, evidently.

  • Ben

    Screw “blue collar” cats – I want a “blue collar” hawk!!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve definitely seen a cat hanging out inside B&J’s Diner on Rhode Island after it had closed for the night. It was just chilling at the front door, looking out. It seemed like it could have been some sort of health code violation, though having a cat around seemed like less of a problem than having a bunch of rodents running around inside.

  • LittleBluePenguin

    This seems like a great idea, I hope it all works out! I remember when I lived in NYC, almost every bodega, hardware store and more had a shop cat – some were super friendly, others were more skittish and stuck to ‘business.” Additionally, many gardens and garden centers “employ” cats as part of their natural pest management, and it seems to work really well.

  • textdoc

    The detailed page at http://www.humanerescuealliance.org/bluecollarcats/ is really interesting. Apparently Qualia had a community cat who became so social over time that he was rehomed into an indoor home!

    • Art

      That’s great, I was wondering what happened to the Qualia cat

      • saf

        Not quite. Kitty got teased by kid and snapped at said kid. Parents got all nasty about “dangerous animals” on the neighborhood listserve. Luckily, kitty was social enough to go to a home.

        • textdoc

          Yikes!

  • Anon3

    Great idea – NYC is full of bodega cats, doing very important jobs.

  • wdc

    I like this bit from the FAQ section of the website:
    “What if I’m not really a cat person?”
    “Blue collar cats aren’t really into you, either.”

    • Caroline

      that made me laugh out loud

    • Anon

      Ha! Actual LOL

  • GreenThumb

    What about the risk to song birds and other urban wildlife? Surely these cats won’t just feast on rats and mice.

    • textdoc

      These are cats that aren’t suited — at least not yet — to live indoor-only lives.
      .
      D.C. has many such cats already, thanks to people who don’t spay/neuter their cats, people who abandon their cats in alleys when they move out of town, etc., etc. Given that there already exists a population of such cats, it makes sense to redistribute some of them to areas/businesses that need them.

  • FridayGirl

    I’m waiting for the person who was complaining a couple months ago that the HRA wouldn’t let them adopt because they “joked” about having a pet to catch rodents come back to complain again about this… heh. heh.

  • Honestly – “community” or “feral” cats will never have any effect on rodent populations. (I live on an alley – I know.) Adult rats can weigh half as much as feral cats. The question is about how to live with wildlife – which includes both rats and cats.

    • lmfb

      Perhaps I just got “lucky,” but I had a cat who would routinely drop off dead rats at my doorstep. Not mice, full size big ole gross rats. (Okay, yes, mice also.) It was not my favorite of his ways to garner my affection. But yes, cats can kill rats.

    • Michael Pierce

      This is where a Terrier would come in handy.

    • James W.

      This is an odd comment, considering studies that show feral cats have a significant effect on bird populations (as in killing several billion birds every year in just the United States). I’m not aware of studies of effect on rodent population, but it seems likely that it should – at least – have *some* effect.

  • Mickey’s BFF

    A wonderful woman by the name of Ms Donna in our NoMa neighborhood trapped about 8 feral cats over the years and turned them in for neuter and release. They patrol our neighborhood and I have never seen a rat in the 6 years I have lived here.

    • Anon

      And your native bird population is probably pretty low too!

  • traydc

    We feed a community cat and have seen it kill several rats in our yard. It’s working out well for us, especially given the huge increase in rats in our neighborhood following all of the construction on H St.

  • Anonymous

    What about those of us who don’t want feral cats in our neighborhood? You guys ok with me just deciding to set up a feral dog colony to keep the feral cats at bay?

    • lmfb

      Nope!

    • Anon

      Sigh.

    • houseintherear

      Are you scared of cats?

      • Anonymous

        I’m sick of stepping in their poop in my yard. I am somewhat scared of their parasites, especially for my kids.
        Are you scared of dogs?

  • GBinCH

    In England, 10 Downing Street has a house cat. The official title for this cat is Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Mouser_to_the_Cabinet_Office

    • textdoc

      Thanks for the link — I love this!
      .
      ‘The post is currently held by Larry, since 15 February 2011. The departure of the last incumbent, Sybil, was in January 2009. [. . .] In January 2011, rats were seen in Downing Street, “scurrying across the steps of Number 10 Downing Street for the second time during a TV news report,” according to ITN. There being no incumbent Chief Mouser at that time, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said there were “no plans” for a cat to be brought in to tackle the problem; however, the following day, newspapers reported that the spokesman had said there was a “pro-cat faction” within Downing Street, leading to speculation that a replacement might indeed be brought in to deal with the problem. On 14 February 2011, it was reported that a cat called “Larry” had been brought in to address the problem. The London Evening Standard reported that the cat had been selected by David Cameron and his family, from those at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.’

  • RikerV
  • Wednesday Addams-Morgan

    I live on 17th near Dupont (I know, sadly unfaithful to my username) and our local liquor store cat, Mimi (at Rosebud Liquors), is the best and cutest! We have a TON of rats on 17th, but I haven’t seen them in Mimi’s patrol area, including my building.

    • Wednesday Addams-Morgan

      Which is to say I love this idea.

  • Alice Sands

    This is a horrible idea. No one wants to euthanize cats, but chucking them back outside is irresponsible, no matter how you dress it up. Releasing cats to kill rodents is like using a chainsaw to remove a splinter. Cats are great pets, but they are a non-native predator that will kill WAY more than rats. Cardinals. Robins. Chipmunks. Squirrels. Plus, doesn’t DC have a law that all cats must be kept indoors?

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