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article imageGot rats? This Chicago neighborhood decides to get cats

By Megan Hamilton     Apr 6, 2016 in Environment
Chicago - Crews in Chicago will soon tear down an old hospital, and once that wrecking ball starts swinging, that can only mean one thing:
Rats. Lots and lots of rats.
Scurrying away from the building they lived in.
While the city and the developer are setting poison baits and traps, residents are turning to the rat's fuzzy and cute nemesis--cats, npr reports.
The ratty situation is happening in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, which is well-known for upscale bars and restaurants, clothing shops, and beautiful homes. But like most areas that are densely populated, rats also like to call the neighborhood home.
So lots of people are ringing up the Treehouse Humane Society's Cats at Work program, Fox32 reports. Cat coordinator Paul Nickerson, who has helped set up 650 feral cat colonies around the city, said he has gone from getting four to six requests a week to 10 requests per day. The waiting time for getting a cat colony has now zoomed to four to six weeks.
"It's really the only 100 percent solution in terms of getting rid of rats permanently," he said.
It's an idea that works, said local resident Victoria Thomas. She has a colony of three feral cats at her flat.
"I used to have nightmares about the amount of rats coming through our yard all the time," she said. "They would be there day and night. All the time. They would have babies running around. Large ones. Bigger than cats." Fortunately, with cats on patrol, that's changed.
"It's been five years. We never see a rat."
All owners have to do is provide food and shelter and the cats do the rest, 5NBC Chicago reports. The program has saved more than 6,000 feral cats, project officials said.
Chicago resident Anne E. Beall is definitely glad to have these felines on her side, Life With Cats reports.
"We struggled with rats for many years at our home. We did everything; called the city, put down poison and gassed their holes. Nothing worked," she said. "One night, a rat ran over my husband's foot, and we decided that we'd had enough."
Beall is a Community Cats Colony caretaker for Tree House Humane Society and is also the author of a book on feral cats. Once she and her husband took a colony in, the rats disappeared within a few short weeks.
For the kitties, it's a lifetime job with health benefits, Life With Cats reports. Since its beginning in 2012, the Cats at Work program has placed over 400 working cats in backyards, factories, and warehouses all over Chicago.
All of the cats are spayed or neutered and have been treated for parasites. They also receive all the necessary vaccinations and are microchipped.
It's a win-win situation for the cats and their caretakers.
More about chicago neighborhood, Cats, Feral cats, Rats, Lincoln Park
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