By Grant Sizemore March 31.
A new program from the District of Columbia’s animal control services, the Humane Rescue Alliance, proposes to tackle the city’s rat population by throwing cats at the problem. The Blue Collar Cats program plans to adopt cats out to businesses, apartments, and homeowners and to allow these cats to wander freely to hunt.
Superficially, this strategy makes sense. Cats are instinctive predators, and many of us grew up watching cats chase rodents in cartoons. It’s natural, right? Not quite.
Not only does this program violate D.C. code, it also fails to account for the fact that cats are ineffective rat controllers that cause plenty of damage in their own right.
According to D.C. code, “no owner of an animal shall allow the animal to go at large.” An owner is defined as anyone “who purchases or keeps an animal in temporary or permanent custody.” The Blue Collar Cats program encourages (even relies on) a violation of law. It also conflicts with many veterinarians’ advice that cats remain indoors for their own safety.