Seattle Feral Cats are Put to Work in Industrial Shops as “Mousers”

Feral cats are considered a nuisance in many cities across the world. Each city takes its own approach to tackling this issue. In some areas, there is a trap, neuter, and release policy in place, while in other areas, they euthanize many feral cats. However, there is an unusual strategy in place to deal with the issue in Seattle. An initiative has seen feral cats getting new homes in warehouses where they work as mousers. It was reported in The Seattle Times that an advertisement had been posted on Craiglist. The advertisement asked if people had warehouses or garage shops, telling them that Mouser cats were looking for new homes in the Seattle region. There are already some warehouses in the area that have taken up the initiative and can vouch for the work of the cats.

Decorative Metal Arts is a business in Seattle that is based under West Seattle Bridge in a 10 thousand square foot hangar. The employees of this company have personally vouched for offering a feral cat a home as there are feral cats living in their place of employment. There is a pair of male Siamese cats working as mousers in the warehouse. They have their own beds in the storage room, along with food dishes, a heater, and litter boxes. The cats are often seen pepping out from behind boxes of supplies. Maria Trybulski is a lead finisher at this company, has described the situation. According to Trybulski, the warehouse is below sea level and it is surrounded by homeless encampments. This means that there is a lot of garbage littered around the area. Wherever there is garbage, there are rats.

Trybulski would often see the rats running past her when she was at work, and these were large. She described some of them as being at least a foot long. For this reason, she thinks the cats are such a good idea to have in warehouses. The cats work together as a team when they are catching the mice and rats. One cat acts as the chaser, chasing the rats and mice out of their hiding space. The second cat is waiting ready to pounce and catch the rodents. They then leave the rats as gifts for the workers. Apparently, the rat infestation at the warehouse is now under control. Deb Sorensen, a 69-year-old woman from Magnolia was responsible for the February listing on Craigslist. She was one of the co-founders of the Alley Cat Project, which she set up with two other people more than a decade ago.

The Alley Cat Project is amongst only a few groups in the area that rescue feral cats. Their group has only 20 volunteers, and they only deal with feral cats in Seattle. After they have rescued the cats, they do their best to place them in new homes in and around the Seattle area. It is estimated that The Alley Cat Project rescues around 300 cats each year, and approximately 200 of these are kittens. Prior to finding them new homes, the project has then microchipped and spayed or neutered. Adult feral cats are difficult to socialize, but it is possible to socialize the kittens. This means that it is possible to rehome the kittens in domestic homes once they have been socialized.

It is usually impossible to socialize the adult cats enough for adoption to a domestic setting, which is why the group came up with the initiative of rehoming them in warehouses as mousers. Usually, a feral cat is simply returned to the area where it was found, and the volunteers can only hope that someone will continue to feed the cat. By adopting the cats out to businesses, it gives the cats a base where they are safe and have somewhere to sleep off the streets. Sorenson explains that by finding the cats warehouses in which they can live, they will have people feeding them, which is better than returning them to the streets where this is not guaranteed. This project has had a lot of success in the decade since it first began. In that time, Sorensen and the volunteers have found homes for more than 300 feral cats in businesses all over Seattle. These have included a concrete works factory, various shops, multiple breweries, restaurants, warehouses, and even a florist.

Although some of the feral cats that are rehomed by The Alley Cat Project have been trapped by them, that is not always the case. Often, the feral cats are trapped by individuals who live locally who then take them to Seattle Animal Shelter. In turn, the Seattle Animal Shelter seeks support from The Alley Cat Project. Some people would argue that it is a waste of time trying to save feral cats. Sorensen disagrees and says there is no difference genetically between domestic cats and feral cats. She has said that they are not wildlife and that they only survive by hunting rodents or eating out of dumpsters. Sorensen also notes that less than a quarter of feral cat litters survives without support due to their terrible living conditions.

They have a difficult life, and Sorensen is passionate about making a difference. She is determined to reduce the feral cat population around Seattle. Although the focus is on spaying and neutering to reduce the number of feral cat litters that are born, the warehouse adoption initiative has also made a big difference. Caring for cats is something that Sorensen has always been passionate about, but she has had careers in many other fields. Her diverse career has included working as a theater costume designer and as a paralegal. Currently, the Decorative Metal Arts shop is closed up due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the staff is taking it in turns to go in to check on the cats and feed them every day. Therefore, the two cats have not suffered due to the current situation.

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