How I invented the Working Cats® program – Transcript from Melya’s interview
There’s rat infestation all over the world. During the middle ages, the Inquisition killed all the cats because they’re related to the witches. Therefore the rats came in. That was a huge problem that we’re still dealing with. So what are the methods people use to deal with rats? The methods are either very cruel glue traps or exterminating methods that don’t work because the poison goes into the atmosphere, goes into the air, goes into the water table, goes into the soil and poisons us. All of this really doesn’t have any effect on the rats. They still come back.
The other problem that we’re having is with feral cats. Feral cats are cats that have either been abandoned by their owners so they’ve lost trust of humans or they were born in the wild and have never been touched by humans. So there’s no way for them to be adoptable. When they come into shelters they’re automatically deemed feral and killed.
So I’m thinking, “Wait a minute.” Since in the middle ages, the Inquisition killed the cats and the rats came in. What if we reversed that? What would happen if we brought in the cats now to be topline predators over the rats? So that’s what we did and what we see is that the cats don’t kill the rats. It’s the scent of the cat as a topline predator that makes the rats leave. So you have a green program. You have a program where you save the lives of cats and they have a place in the community, a place in our society. They’re Working Cats®. The rats disappear and you have no environmental toxins in our environment. It’s a win, win, win situation.
The Working Cats® program began at the Los Angeles downtown Flower Market. I was there one day and I saw a guy coughing. And I said, ”What’s going on. Are you okay?” And he said, “Well, no, they spray poison into the environment to get rid of the rats.” I said, “Well I didn’t even know you guys had rats. ”He said, “Yes, but the poison they’re spraying is really hurting us.” So I went to the head of the Flower Mart and I said, “So I hear you spray poison to get rid of the rats,” and he said, “Yes we do,” and I said, “Is it working?”, and he said “No.”I said, “How long have you been doing this?” He said, “Since 1900.” So I would think that’s enough time to know that it doesn’t work. He said, “Well I don’t know what else to do.” I said, “Well I have a suggestion. Let me bring in three feral cats and if in three months you don’t see a complete decrease in your rat population I will take them back,” and that was 12 years ago and I saw the cats the other day and they’re very, very happy.