Story at a glance

  • The Tree House Humane Society kicked off a program to release feral felines into areas experiencing rat problems.
  • The shelter says only rescued cats who cannot thrive in a home or shelter environment, or cannot be reintegrated into their former colonies, are used for the Cats at Work program.
  • According to WGN 9, the Tree House Humane society has placed more than 1,000 feral cats onto Chicago streets since 2012.

A Chicago animal shelter is using feral cats to tackle the city's rat problem. 

The Windy City has ranked No. 1 on pest control company Orkin's list of the "rattiest cities" in the U.S. for six consecutive years, as Chicago has had the most rodent pest treatments. 

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In an effort to rein in the explosion of rodents, the Tree House Humane Society kicked off a program to release feral felines into areas experiencing rat problems. 

After humanely capturing the feral cats, the humane society spays or neuters the animals and places them into residential and commercial settings with rodent infestations to act as an environmentally friendly rodent control. 

The Tree House Humane Society says only rescued cats who cannot thrive in a home or shelter environment, or cannot be reintegrated into their former colonies, are used for the Cats at Work program. After receiving approval for a working cat, property and business owners are responsible for their well-being.  

"Property and business owners provide food, water, shelter, and wellness to the cats who work for them. In most cases, our Cats at Work become beloved members of the family or team," the shelter says on its website

According to WGN 9, the Tree House Humane society has placed more than 1,000 feral cats onto Chicago streets since 2012. 

"We've had a lot of our clients tell us that before they had cats, they would step outside their house and rats would actually run across their feet," Sarah Liss of Tree House Humane Society told WGN 9. 

While the cats will hunt and catch rodents on occasion, their presence alone is a deterrent. 

"They are actually deterring them with their pheromones," Liss told WGN 9. "That's enough to keep the rats away." 

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Published on May 11, 2021