Disneyland Partners With Feral Cat Colony To Control Rodents

When you have a theme park as large as Disneyland, you run into some unique challenges. Among them, the gobs of melted Mickey bars and popcorn boxes attract hordes of rodents, and those rodents have attracted an estimated 200-strong feral cat colony that has been going strong for the past 25 years.

Turns out, the theme park officially views the feral cat colony as “partners” in controlling the rodent population (Not everyone can be a movie star, I guess). Disneyland also helps maintain the kitty clutch through a trap, neuter, and release program, and five hidden feeding stations. Who knew that beneath the layers of cuteness lied a rich dark underbelly of even more cuteness?

Don’t bother going around saying “here kitty kitty” on your next visit to the most magical of kingdoms, though, these cats only come out at night.

Secrets of the Walt empire, revealed!

After dark, the dirty work at Disneyland begins [Los Angeles Times via Alley Cat Allies via Modern Cat]

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  1. Dalsnsetters says:

    Seems like everyday is Caturday at Disneyland!

  2. Deezul_AwT says:

    There’s a feral cat population on Georgia Tech’s campus as well, and they do much of the same things for control there. Neuter the animals, hidden feeding stations, care for injured ones.

    http://gtalumnimag.com/?p=3233

    • nrich239 says:

      Great article.

    • babyruthless says:

      There’s a feral cat program at Southern Methodist, too. It’s a bit of a problem because the feral cats live where the Bush Presidential Library is going, and they’re having to figure out how to move a feral cat colony (apparently in addition to the bad press the University would get by killing the colony, it wouldn’t do much good; it would get repopulated with new cats anyway).

      http://smu.edu/cats/

      Also, Wreck ‘em!

    • oblivious87 says:

      Personally, I think they keep those cats so students who have had a few too many have a way to entertain themselves on long walks between campuses… I always wanted to catch one, but they are so damn tricky!! GO JACKETS!!

  3. Serenefengshui says:

    Awesome! Better by far than using rat poison.

  4. domcolosi says:

    BUT WHAT IF THEY CATCH MICKEY?!?!

    end five-year-old me.

  5. Megalomania says:

    It sounds cute but all I can think of is a lawsuit waiting to happen when a kid hugs a kitty, and the irony of Disney having mousers on site

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Feral cats wouldn’t let themselves be petted or hugged. They’re essentially wild animals, and would not usually go toward human beings.

      • MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

        You’ve never been to my neighborhood. They come up to the houses and ask about the dinner special and place reservations.

    • Billy says:

      I think we can keep waiting. According to the article, this has been happening for 25 years.

      On the other hand, maybe there have been lawsuits. If that’s the case, Disney, obviously, takes that risk into account.

    • Billy says:

      I think we can keep waiting. According to the article, this has been happening for 25 years.

      On the other hand, maybe there have been lawsuits. If that’s the case, Disney, obviously, takes that risk into account.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      If said child could catch a feral kitty, they are either a trapper or the kittey is dead/really sick.

    • MsAnon says:

      Honestly, this is probably the safest method of controlling rodents, especially in a park swarming with small children. The other alternatives would be poisoned bait (which could be eaten by children) or traps (which could injure curious children), both of which would be much more likely to cause lawsuits. And since the park is so thoroughly cleaned, any cat waste is probably disposed of.

    • Conformist138 says:

      In that case, sue the city parks for having squirrels. Same thing- they just won’t go near people because they are wild animals. I have been to Disneyland over half a dozen times from ages 2-18 and never once saw any hint of these cats.

      Feral cat colonies can be found literally all over the inhabited world. Anywhere you can find domestic cats, you will find feral cats. Considering the park is catching them for neutering, you bet they’re probably being given vaccinations and other medical care to keep them from being walking disease factories or getting rabies.

    • CFinWV says:

      Good opportunity to teach your kid about feral animals.

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Sounds like someone could make a fortune renting night vision goggles to people outside the Disney gates and peddling nighttime cat safaris.

  7. Blueskylaw says:

    Well, since Walt Disney is technically a “Farm” since it is taxed as farmland, therefore saving it millions of Dollars a year, you would expect it to have feral cats.
    http://www.readthehook.com/Stories/2003/04/10/coverLandUseFarmersFriendO.html

    • Bativac says:

      You are confusing Walt Disney World with Disneyland.

      (Not that it isn’t ridiculous that Disney is able to get away with that by having a token number of cattle on its property.)

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Also, IIRC, one of them is allowed to have a nuclear reactor installed on the property according to their land deal/lease.

  8. mythago says:

    But Disneyland is open at night…

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      According to the schedule, most days it’s only open until 8 p.m. I think that the cats, if they’re truly nocturnal, would only come out while it was night and more or less devoid of the hustle and bustle of humans. It’s the humans and the noise that would prevent them from coming out as soon as the sun sets. I mean, unless these were cats a la Gargoyles and if that’s the case, they’d be holed up in castle until it was safe.

      • jaya9581 says:

        Disneyland frequently closes at 8 PM during the off season, but in season and other high-attendance times of the year they are open with guests present until midnight, with Downtown Disney open until at least 1 AM.

        I’ve seen cats there a few times during the day. They want nothing to do with people, and usually all you see is a quick flash of their backside as they take off. I’ve never seen a mouse or rat inside the park though, and they are EVERYWHERE in SoCal.

    • VA_White says:

      Feral cats are not friendly and will avoid people if they can. They are wild and see humans as a threat. It’s my guess they wait to come out until things get quiet. Their prey isn’t going to be running about when people are there anyhow.

  9. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    And one day, a video will appear on You Tube of Minnie Mouse running screaming down Main Street, USA, with a horde of pissed off cats chasing her. Minne will trip, and be devoured in front of all the children.

    And within 5 minutes, that video will be yanked, the people who made it and posted it secreted away to the private gas chamber underneath Cinderella’s Castle, and within a year, it will be only a slightly misremembered legend.

  10. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    That is the feakiest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

  11. quijote says:

    It’s hard not to imagine that the cats are able to talk. And I imagine there must be some fat evil boss cat, and so on.

  12. KhaiJB says:

    good for them. turn a problem into an asset :)

  13. Belabras ate my dingo! says:
  14. M3wThr33 says:

    I’ve seen them around a few times. Usually when leaving after midnight, prowling the tram queue. But in the daylight sometimes they’ll be around the Rivers of America, in the quiet areas. They don’t like noise or human contact, so they naturally avoid it.

  15. Tristan Smith says:

    You can see the cats pretty much any time if you know where to look, however they are much more active at night. If anyone is interested, the best place to spot them is near the restroom underneath the Hungry Bear restaurant. That area butts up against a tree filled foresty area.

  16. valthun says:

    Nah, you still see some running around on occasion during the day. Usually in the underbrush and you generally have to look for them. They stay out of the way of humans.

  17. Laura Northrup says:

    The cats originally came to Disneyland to complain about how much “Aristocats” sucked.

  18. drburk says:

    I’m lucky to have been behind the scenes in disney, it’s a bit scary. Long twisty paved roads through swamp land. The brush is overgrown and tall so you don’t get to see what is around you. I’m sure there is plenty living in the swamp we don’t want to know about.

    • LandruBek says:

      I hear there’s even a cult of Cthulhu there, but it’s become kind of disneyfied and the shambling Shoggoth are now animatronic. Iä!

  19. peebozi says:

    But what about the illegal aliens…these cats are taking jobs from them!!

    no Americans, especially in Florida, like to kill animals for fun and profit .it’s like farm work, no one Americans want it…they’d rather starve to death or live the high life on unemployment…going on vacations, driving cadillacs, watching their 200″ HDTV’s, and buying massive amounts of cocaine, alcohol and pot!

    • KatieNeptune says:

      Disneyland in CA…

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Are you inferring that the cats are taking the place of exterminators? I don’t know if you realize just how impractical it would be for exterminators to attempt to rid Disneyland of rodents.

  20. fantomesq says:

    You do see the cats come out after Park closing. I’ve worked many overnights at Disney and anytime it is quiet, the animals come a crawling. They go back to the founding of the Park and were most notable during the remodel of the walkthrough of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle because that’s where the cats took up residence and the interior of the castle was infested with fleas!

    http://mikecalahan.com/?p=392
    http://www.alleycat.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=873&srctid=1&erid=10139969

  21. tempo says:

    This is 100% true. I changed my userpic to Larry, a wild Disneyland backstage cat who is very into people and super friendly.

  22. Big Mama Pain says:

    Yay, now I actually want to go to Disneyland!

    Not sure why they have feeding stations for the cats, though; they will stop hunting if they have a reliable food source.

    • invisibelle says:

      I had a housecat when I was a kid that was a fantastic mouser, and we fed her more than enough to be considered reliable. :) I think it’s just instinct for some kitties.

    • Harry Manback says:

      Because if they wipe out the rodent population the cats will move on, and then the rodents will return, and then the cats will return and the cycle will begin again. My uncle’s farm cat was quite well fed and never lost his desire to hunt daily.

    • Mauvaise says:

      Actually it’s the opposite. Interesting (to me) fact: a cat’s drive to hunt (prey drive) is separate from it’s drive to eat. I read about a study done some years back on a feral cat colony that was being used as rodent control. They also thought the cats would catch more if they stopped feeding them, but they actually hunted even less. Maybe because they were too hungry or something – I forget. But the point is, feeding them ensures they will keep on hunting.

      • jesse.anne.o says:

        I’d be really interested in that study, Mauvaise – if you can remember any of the drs. names or the publication it was in? Or even the title?

        This is often part of the outreach feral cat advocacy groups have to do re rodent control and deli cats. People try to withhold food even though it’s 2 separate things — then they just end up with malnourished cats. The scent of the cats is what keeps the rodents away as long as there’s no plentiful food-source (i.e. feeding the cats measured food at the same time each day that they finish shortly after delivery eliminates any attraction mice/rats would have to the area).

        I can be reached via my blog or jesse.anne.oh ahhht gmail

  23. quail says:

    Do people realize how many feral cat colonies there are in the country? Just about anywhere where there’s humans there’s feral cats in some number. Many downtown parking garages in urban areas will do the same, feed & shelter some feral cats in order to keep the rats at bay. They figure the cats will show up anyway with the rats there.

    Side note: one of the coolest things about the Disney properties I’ve ever heard was that the air filters for the Space Mountain ride have to be changed out weekly. They use blowers to simulate speed in the darkened mountain. The first few weeks the ride was opened they discovered the air filters covered in a white powder. It turns out with all of that extra air blowing they were trapping dandruff and dead skin and it shortened the life of the filters.

    • Maseca says:

      Where did you get this information about Space Mountain? I’m about as big of a Disneyland trivia nut as you’ll find, and I’ve never heard this. A cursory Google search turns up nothing as well. If you have a reference, I’d be very interested in reading it.

      In fact, I’ve been in Space Mountain during an e-stop with the lights on more than once, and I didn’t see any evidence of “blowers”. The trains travel at a max speed of ~30mph. That’s pretty windy on its own when your entire body is exposed to the air. How would the wind from these blowers always be facing the correct way for a moving ride? Wouldn’t the riders at some point be caught in the cross breeze? It just doesn’t make any sense.

  24. sumocat says:

    It’s worth noting this is similar to how it is theorized cats came to be domesticated in the first place. As we developed agriculture, stores of grain attracted rodents and the rodents attracted cats. Humans recognized the value of the rodent-killing cats and began rewarding them with treats and kindness to keep them around. 10,000 years later and the arrangement still works (and cats still remember that they are the valuable ones in our relationship, not the other way around).
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/28/AR2007062802343.html

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      I need to get on to mine about their end of the bargain! The last thing any of them killed was a can of Friskies.

  25. Donathius says:

    I’m pretty sure the cats don’t ONLY come out at night. I’ve seen cats around Disneyland and California Adventure quite a few times in the middle of the afternoon. I saw one once in a closed-off seating area at an outdoor restaurant that was playing a few kittens. I remember seeing another walking along the tracks of the abandoned mine train on Tom Sawyer’s Island.

    Google Disneyland cats and you’ll find there are plenty of pictures of them.

  26. grebby says:

    These are all the descendants of Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 aka “Jake.”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077305/

  27. highmodulus says:

    Now you made me like Disney. I hope you’re happy.

  28. TheDisneyBlog says:

    I’ve seen those feral cats all over the park. Most stay far away from humans, but a few do occasionally come into dining areas to pick up some scraps during the day. I agree that looking around the Rivers of America is your best bet to spot one during the day.

    Here’s another Disneyland cat story: When Walt Disney originally opened Disneyland in 1955 he placed a huge ad for an upcoming movie right in the middle of the park. Walt was no dummy, he knew that Sleeping Beauty Castle would be featured in every families photo album, on television, and magazines – a huge reminder of the upcoming film. Two years later, as the the opening date for Sleeping Beauty approached, scenes from the movie were turned into dioramas and made into a castle walk-through. When construction crews first entered the castle to begin adding the movie elements, they discovered that it was home to over 200 cats who lived in the rafters, nooks, and crannies. (They also noticed that it was a huge fire hazard, but that’s another story.)

    Now, it’s unlikely any of the cats you see today are descendants of the original bunch, as they are neutered when caught. So how do those cats all find their way to Disneyland? Well the park is pretty much known as the unofficial dumping place for unwanted cats in Orange County. I’ve seen cars pull up next to the backstage area and throw cats over the fence or onto the sidewalk.

    And that’s probably more than you need to know about Cats at Disneyland

  29. Dustbunny says:

    It’s about time those lazy cats started working for a living!

  30. Copper says:

    Texas A&M Corpus Christi has a similar program going on. I’ve been here three years and there were always feral cats around, but until this year the staff basically played ignorant. They acted like the cats weren’t around and just said to leave them alone. Now there’s feeding stations and the cats have become kind of a campus mascot. There’s a few that are actually really friendly and sleep in the campus walkway during the day. These cats let people pet them and they don’t really move much during the day except to reposition.

  31. biggeek says:

    At the Enchanted Tiki Room, a 17-minute musical show features 225 robotic birds, plants and singing tikis. Patrick Pendleton, the show’s primary mechanic, has seen it more times than he can count.

    To make sure the characters work properly, he plays the show repeatedly, watching each closely. “It’s hard to catch everything in one show,” he said.
    —————

    That job would drive me absolutely insane.

  32. BytheSea says:

    … so they make them nocturnal too? Eeeeevil.

  33. Droford says:

    Wheres the wild pack of dogs to keep the cats in check?

  34. HaydenGrace says:

    last time i was there, i saw two of them!

  35. Annika-Lux says:

    They come out during the day, too, in the Frontierland area. Next time you’re on the train, look off to the sides, you might spot one. Also, at the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country is a good place to see some kitties up close.

  36. dark_inchworm says:

    As a guy who’s recently become obsessed with cats, cat rescue, and TNR, this touches me :)

    I noticed a mother and two kittens wandering through sewer openings (can’t think of the terminology, not manholes though) when I arrived at my girlfriend’s apartment complex late one night and didn’t think much of it. A few days later, they all happened to be on our porch! Me stepping out made them cower to beneath the porch, but a few morsels of food lured them out, and they never stopped coming back. Approximately 5 months into their lives, Brite and Dimm are currently sitting in my beloved’s bathroom recovering from their recent castrations :) Glo (the mother) has not been captured yet… in fact, she may have 3-week-old kittens around here somewhere.

  37. The Marionette says:

    That’s actually a really good idea. This way they’re getting rid of the rats and doing it without chemicals. Also the cats are getting spaded and neutered so they are less likely to repopulate and get out of control. I’m just wondering how do they keep them from being out during the day. Are those feeding stations also in cages so they keep the cats there till night?