Working Cats in NYC
December 22, 2007 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Working Class Cats documents the lives of gainfully employed felines in NYC. There is, of course, some controversy. [via]
posted by milquetoast (36 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wish my cats would get off their lazy asses and get jobs.
posted by birdherder at 7:47 AM on December 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I tried for years to teach my cat how to do my laundry, but between her feline laziness and her lack of opposable thumbs, the project eventually went nowhere.
posted by darkstar at 7:51 AM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, it amuses me that people have such a horror of time-tested, proven techniques because they disagree with Modern Scientific Ideas. Cats being used as ratters and mousers, for example. I've seen them used primarily in "farm and garden" stores, where seed is sold, and in locally owned convenience stores where there isn't any fresh food. These cats aren't wallowing in the salad bar, they're keeping rats and mice from chewing on cereal boxes.

Now, at the delis in New York, one could argue that the cat hair and dander is a threat. I'm allergic myself, so I probably wouldn't eat in any of these restaurants, but it seems to me that a cat (and its requisite risks) is far preferable to disease-ridden rodents. Cats are domesticated and have lived with us for thousands of years; their diseases are diseases we're familiar with, as a species, and for which we have developed adequate treatment and immune response.

Rats and mice are vermin, and are responsible for plagues and disease throughout human history.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:54 AM on December 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


I wonder which fines are higher: the ones bodega owners get for having the cats on duty or the ones they'd get for vermin.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:56 AM on December 22, 2007


Caturday falls on Labour Day this year?

Pension for all kitties!
posted by ersatz at 7:58 AM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, if your cat won't get out there and earn a living, you can at least teach it the Charles Mingus Cat Toilet Training Program.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:04 AM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


So there's a house in Japan where 14 cats are whored out for petting?
posted by jouke at 8:04 AM on December 22, 2007


JaredSeth, they don't get fined for the rats, usually. The rats run and hide when people come in, so a rat-infested store can get a clean bill of health. The cat, on the other hand, lies asleep on a cushion or on a chair in the office and is obvious.

Basically any place that sells food is going to have vermin. Almost every restaurant owner or grocery store owner should be paying fines if the health department actually understood that. I've even seen boxes of cereal that have been rat-nibbled in "clean," corporate stores--Wal-Mart and Kroger's--and have seen "evidence" in several convenience stores.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:11 AM on December 22, 2007


Rats and mice are vermin, and are responsible for plagues and disease throughout human history.

It was THE FLEAS goddamit.
posted by three blind mice at 8:20 AM on December 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


As the article notes, the first finr for a cat is $300. The first fine for rodent feces is also $300. Rodent feces is quite visible to an inspector.

I was once asked by a friend to help clean up a California restaurant that had been shut down due to health code violations. Rodent feces was one of the (many) infractions. It was quite an eye-opener when we found, in one of the unused ovens, a rat's nest with eight wriggling, baby rats...
posted by darkstar at 8:22 AM on December 22, 2007


I wonder which fines are higher: the ones bodega owners get for having the cats on duty or the ones they'd get for vermin.

According to the NYT link it's the same either way. $300 for having a cat, or $300 for rodent feces or any other sign, I'd guess, of rodent infestation.

Personally I think I'd rather eat food that was in the presence of a cat, than food that's been saturated with commercial rodenticide -- that apparently being what the city would prefer store owners do. (And I can attest to the fact that commercial poisons almost inevitably cause rats/mice to crawl away and die in the walls, which smells unbelievably awful.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:25 AM on December 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yes, three blind mice, it was the fleas--but what were they carried by? :)
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:43 AM on December 22, 2007


darkstar writes "It was quite an eye-opener when we found, in one of the unused ovens, a rat's nest with eight wriggling, baby rats..."

Eaaaaugh. Dammit. Now I'm off to take a shower.

No rats here, but field mice, and the last time I tried to get a cat (partly as a mouser) he beat up my little dog, who has to come first. He's living with a friend now and is a good mouser, but he really didn't like my dog and wasn't adjusting, so he had to go.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:49 AM on December 22, 2007


Working cats (and dogs) in Hollywood and New York are on strike!
posted by ericb at 9:01 AM on December 22, 2007


What an elegant solution. Leave it to bureaucracy to screw with it.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:04 AM on December 22, 2007


So there's a house in Japan where 14 cats are whored out for petting?

And there's FlexPetz in the States where you can rent a dog for a day via their "Flexible Dog Ownership" plan.
posted by ericb at 9:05 AM on December 22, 2007


Sometimes the rats themselves are pretty visible too. I could have sworn that was the reason they shut down the KFC/Taco Bell down in the Village near my work.

I do wonder if they would eventually shut a place down for repeated "cat on premises" infractions.
posted by JaredSeth at 9:42 AM on December 22, 2007


I'd rather have working cats than wild rats in a convenience store any day. Cats have worked as mousers for humanity for as long as there's been agriculture, and that's their natural relationship with man - why not let them have a job that they're good at?

New York is teeming with rodents, so trying to cut those numbers back a little bit sounds great to me.
posted by MythMaker at 10:08 AM on December 22, 2007


Sometimes the rats themselves are pretty visible too. I could have sworn that was the reason they shut down the KFC/Taco Bell down in the Village near my work.

That incident is cited in the NYT's article in the FPP's "controversy" hyperlink:
"To store owners, the services of cats are indispensable in a city where the rodent problem is serious enough to be documented in a still popular two-minute video clip on YouTube from late February of rats running amok in a KFC/Taco Bell in Greenwich Village. Store-dwelling cats are so common that there is a Web site, workingclasscats.com, dedicated to telling their tales."
posted by ericb at 10:11 AM on December 22, 2007


Goddam I wish we still had inline image tags.
posted by DenOfSizer at 10:17 AM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


That KFC/Taco Bell was a strange case. I suspect there was something wrong with the rats--they have some sort of disorder or disease--because their behavior was contrary to their instincts.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:17 AM on December 22, 2007


If we're talking about working cats, let's not forget about Oscar, the grim meow-ler.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:36 AM on December 22, 2007


Pick at the plaster chipped away
survey some stunning tooth decay
enlist the cat in the impending class-war.

posted by wemayfreeze at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2007


Back in high school, I worked in a large supermarket in NYC. For part of the time I spent there, I was on "rat patrol". My duties were to make a daily check under each cash register and each aisle display, and look for rodents on the glue traps that were set. If there were any caught, I would have to dispose of the trap (and the unfortunate rodent) and replace it with a fresh one.

If I remember correctly (it's been almost 20 years), there were 135 traps all told in the store. One particularly rough week, I remember going through 2 full boxes of traps, with 100 traps to a box. This store, despite what seemed to me at the time to be a very significant rodent infestation, regularly scored high marks from the city health inspectors.

The explanation, of course, was that everything was relative: we obviously had rodents, but we weren't teeming with them like some stores were. Also, I had to keep an inspection log that detailed the location of every rodent found, and a regular inspection program was considered to be "mitigating" when any signs of infestation were found.

Bottom line - if you think for one second that your grocery store is rodent-free - you are absolutely 100% delusional.

Oh, and I like the cat idea - a LOT.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:28 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's a family of cats living in the hardware store here in my town. They follow the customers around (they seem to instinctively know who will tolerate them and who wants to be left alone) and they sleep in the window displays. As far as I know there haven't been any complaints or controversies, but that's one of the advantages of living in a small town.
posted by amyms at 12:31 PM on December 22, 2007


Cats are clean. They don't leave their droppings around (except one cat I know). I'd much rather see a cat in a store than rats or rat turds.
posted by mike3k at 1:35 PM on December 22, 2007


Yeah, the Times article says they are working on legalizing the cats in food stores. Perhaps for once common sense will prevail...
posted by Maias at 3:04 PM on December 22, 2007


I absolutely love walking into a store to find a cat in residence. It tells me--stereotypically? maybe--a whole lot of things about the storeowner.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:23 PM on December 22, 2007


Same here, angelboy. When I go into a bookstore and see a cat lolling on a cushion, it adds to a sense of comfort, too. As if this is a place where I could curl up in front of a fire with a good book, a cup of tea and a cat sleeping on the rug in front of the hearth. It's stereotypical, of course, but there is something about it that adds to the ambience.
posted by darkstar at 4:39 PM on December 22, 2007


And because I'm too late to get it in on the Oscar thread grapefruitmoon linked, above...

FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!
posted by darkstar at 4:50 PM on December 22, 2007


A thread about working cats isn't complete without Shopcat.
posted by thewalrusispaul at 5:02 PM on December 22, 2007


amyms writes "There's a family of cats living in the hardware store here in my town."

I don't think it matters to health inspectors unless there's food involved.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:21 PM on December 22, 2007


Holly and Oreo are rough-looking cats.

I'd trust 'em with mousing duty.
posted by jason's_planet at 6:45 PM on December 22, 2007


Some people say that civilization started with the need to make beer, because beer required lots of grain, and elements needed to grow and process lots of grain can only happen when there is an organized society.

What is also needed when there is lots of grain, is cats. Cat domestication occurred along with civilization. And now after tens of thousands of years, society seems to have lost the knowledge of the importance of cats.
posted by eye of newt at 7:19 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is the only place I can think of to say this... but yesterday at lunch I saw a man on a cel phone walking a big black cat on a leash through the Financial District in San Francisco. Just trucking down the street next to eachother, clearly on their way somewhere. Guy. Big cat. Leashed together. Walking kinda fast.

Never seen that before in my life. Freaked my shit out.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:28 PM on December 22, 2007


This is the only place I can think of to say this... but yesterday at lunch I saw a man on a cel phone walking a big black cat on a leash through the Financial District in San Francisco. Just trucking down the street next to eachother, clearly on their way somewhere. Guy. Big cat. Leashed together. Walking kinda fast.

Never seen that before in my life. Freaked my shit out
It was probably Woland and Behemoth.
posted by nasreddin at 1:45 PM on December 23, 2007


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