1000 feral cats released in Chicago to combat historic rat infestation

Chicago has been named America's 'rattiest city.'
Chicago has been named America's 'rattiest city.' Photo credit: Getty Images

A Chicago animal shelter has released over 1000 feral cats onto the streets over the last decade in an attempt to combat the city's rat infestation. 

For six consecutive years, Chicago has placed number one in the US on pest control company Orkin's list of the 'rattiest cities'. According to the National Post, Chicago's problem with rats goes back to 1977, when the city offered a $1 bounty for each rat killed by residents. 

In an effort to tackle the city's exploding rat problem, Tree House Humane Society - an organisation dedicated to the protection of cats - identified a solution for Chicago's rat infestation problems.

The Cats at Work programme by the Tree House Humane Society is taking previously unwanted and feral cats that cannot thrive in a home or shelter, and releasing them into Chicago's residential and commercial areas to combat the pesky rat problem. 

The organisation explains on its website that cats are placed two or three at a time into a area in order to "provide environmentally friendly rodent control."

While feral cats do kill rats, their presence alone acts a deterrent, as their pheromones are often enough to scare rats away.

The cats are placed under the care of approved local businesses and property owners as 'working cats', where they are rewarded with food, water, shelter and wellness for hunting rodents. 

"In most cases, our Cats at Work become beloved members of the family or team and some even have their own Instagram pages," the website states. 

All the cats that get released are spayed or neutered so as to not contribute to the city's stray cat problem. 

According to WGN9, the animal shelter has released more than 1000 feral cats onto Chicago streets since 2012.