When you walk around New York City, you are bound to run into some rats. It happens. Sometimes you are waiting for the train and you see them scurrying about the tracks. Sometimes you see them on the street, scavenging amongst the garbage. And if you are really unlucky, they get into your apartment, at which time you should move. Or this could happen.
But some neighborhoods just seem to be devoid of all rat life. Where Alex and I live in Brooklyn, it is very rare to come across one. I think maybe twice in the 4 years we have lived here have we encountered such a rodent. But, walk a mile outside our neighborhood, and you can see the street crawling with life. Once we wandered past a pile of garbage, and 30 rats ran out as Alex shrieked in horror. She didn’t care for it. (I thought it was hilarious) I’ve always wondered why we were spared, but the rest of New York has to deal with the vermin?
Well, I was noodling around CNN the other day, and I may have an answer. In Chicago, there is apparently a huge rat problem. They have tried everything, from poison to gas, but nothing could handle the rodent population. One woman they interviewed says she could expect upwards of 400 rats in her yard every night. It has become such an issue, that Chicago has been declared the “rattiest city in the country”.
When there seemed to be no end in site, an animal shelter by the name of Tree House Humane Society came up with a solution. Tree House was the country’s first cage free, no kill animal shelter. They had a surplus of feral cats, cats that wouldn’t make good pets, so they put them to work doing what they do best: murder.
They take existing colonies of feral cats, drop them off in an area that has a particularly extreme rat problem, and within a month or two, the rats are almost all gone. Not only will the cats torture most of the rats to death, but the pheromone they rub against their territory will scare the rest of the rats away. The program has become so successful, that businesses are buying a three-cat placement in their warehouses for $600. Cats are being called the only 100% effective solution to a rat infestation.
So, this brings me back to our neighborhood. It is filled with stray cats. Hundreds of them. I see kitties out wandering around everyday. At night, we can hear them fighting, yowling, or whatever else cats do. At first I thought it was sad having so many strays, but they seem to do ok, and their population is only growing. Also, I hear tell that neighborhoods with a higher dog population have a higher rat population as well. The rats will feast on doggy poo if not cleaned up properly, which in turn will attract more vermin. So there is now proof that cats are the superior pet!
We in Ditmas Park owe these kitties a huge thank you for keeping us so rat free. The only downside is I know I’m going to come home one day and Alex will have brought home at least two more cats. Mouse, our cat, would be furious. But they are perfect and I love them, so it’s ok.
I’m a spinster.