The job market isn’t only looking up for most Americans; job prospects also are on the rise for community cats. Take feral cats, for example. They increasingly are finding “employment” as a green alternative to toxic chemicals for rodent control at barns, wineries and local businesses. Prior to showing up for rodent control, the feral cats available through Whisker Warriors and other shelters and rescues, get a health check, are spay or neutered, vaccinated and in many cases microchipped. Their new “bosses” agree to give them ongoing care and a safe place to live out their lives.
Not all cats taken off the streets are unsocial, however. Many abandoned community cats crave human companionship. Some of these kitties now are enjoying being the toast of the town at cat cafes, which continue to spring up all over the country, after first making their mark in Japan and China. The cafes provide patrons with the opportunity to cuddle with kitties while enjoying coffee, tea and other refreshments. Better yet, the cafes serve as adoption centers for rescues and shelters, sending hundreds of cats to good homes. Right here in the Sacramento area, you can visit with adoptable kitties and enjoy coffee or tea at Champy’s Catfé, which is part of the FieldHaven Markeplace, the volunteer-run thrift store which benefits FieldHaven Feline Center in Lincoln.
Cat tourist destinations on the rise
Recognizing the magnetism they possess, community cats are setting their entrepreneurial sites even higher on the global tourism industry. Already there are a host of tourist destinations whose main attraction are their feline residents. Among the most notable is the Hemingway House in Key West, Fla., where the descendants of Papa Hemingway’s beloved felines roam the grounds of his famous home.
Another cat tourist destination is the Cat Islands of Japan, famous for having more cats than people. On Tashirojima, one of the more renowned of the Cat Islands, cats were originally brought over to control rodents. Today the popular tourist destination is complete with cat-shaped buildings. Even better the government has stepped in with a Trap, Neuter and Return program that also provides the cats with necessary veterinary care.
And then there is the Houtong Cat Village on Taiwan’s north coast where cats more than double the local population of about 100. Cats bring in nearly a million annual visitors to Huotong, and local shops and museums cater to them with cat-themed items. Thanks to dedicated volunteers and the local government, the cats are getting spayed and neutered to control their population, although some outsiders are coming to drop off their unwanted cats in the village.
Owing to the popularity of such cat tourist sites, ABC reports that a small island in Taiwan faced with a lack of jobs and an aging population of just 200 people has decided to use the island’s hundreds of stray cats to draw in tourists. The idea was the brainchild of the “six” remaining students at the island’s only school, who according to ABC, have already “taken photographs of local cats to then custom print onto bags and cards made out of recycled clothes — they even turned the public mailbox outside the front of the school into a giant cat.”
So while community cats still are a cause for much concern among cat lovers, there are programs across the globe that are giving them the recognition and affection they deserve and helping many of them find safe havens.