Cats too cranky to be pets are being put to work in Philadelphia.
The ill-mannered felines use their penchant for biting and swatting to hunt pests -- pouncing on mice in barns or stables through the Working Cats program, The Associated Press reported.
“Part of the reason cats became domesticated was to get rid of the rodent population,” Ame Dorminy, ACCT’s spokeswoman, told the AP. “We took advantage of their natural propensity to hunt and made an official program out of it.”
Philadelphia's Animal Care and Control Team established the program four years ago, the AP reported. The group recently expanded the program to bring the misbehaving mousers to urban sites, such as factories and warehouses.
The cats' renewed purpose can often help them open up, Dorminy told the AP.
“A lot of these cats feel more comfortable when they can be themselves and use natural behaviors,” she said. “Then, they’re more open to human interaction because they feel more confident.”
Bella Vista Beer Distributors took on grumpy cat Gary after finding mice were munching on merchandise, according to owner Jordan Fetfatzes, the AP reported.
Gary had "behavioral issues" and would hiss when approached in his crate, the AP reported. Starting out at Bella Vista, he stayed in the office all day and hunted in the warehouse at night.
Weeks later, grumpy Gary is now a cuddly mascot for the business -- and completely repels the mice, the AP reported.
“You’re not only saving your business money, you are helping save the life of an unwanted pet,” Fetfatzes said. “And in this case, we made a friend.”
Philadelphia isn't the only city with working cat programs. Los Angeles had one of the first in 1999, the AP reported. Tree House Humane Society in Chicago places feral cats at condos and suburban backyards. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Pennsylvania places cats in a wide variety of positions.
Todd Curry brought in a sassy cat named Shelley from ACCT to guard the rat-ridden dumpster outside the Emerald Windows showroom, the AP reported. He's the vice president of sales there.
Shelley was brought to the shelter after biting her former family's kids, the AP reported. Standoffish at first, Shelley now loves attention -- and helps relieve stress around the workplace.
“The only reason she was here was for the rats, but it has turned into a lot more than that,” Curry said. “It’s nice to see these cats put to use, not put down.”