Labor Day is next week, a day celebrating the human worker in the United States. But many other species have “jobs” that are often just as important. This week and next, we will discuss first cats and then dogs that spend their days serving society.
You can find the most common “working cat” on any farm. They are especially useful on farms that produces food, but almost any place with a barn will have a few cats around. These cats help keep the rodent population in check, thus protecting the farmer’s livelihood: the food he sells. But they are just as important on farms where animals live to keep the feed safe from both little chewing mouths and deposited waste.There are programs in several states that work to place rescued feral cats as barn cats on local farms, an alternative to putting them down due to their unfriendliness and the difficulty in adopting them out to other kinds of homes. If you’re in need of such a cat, check to see if there is a program in your area. In such cases, the program expects the adopter to ensure the cats have proper food, water and medical care.
Even the pampered cats people keep as pets in their homes are “working,” even if you don’t realize it. If you live in the “country” and haven’t seen rats or mice in your basement or found evidence of them in your kitchen, thank your cat. If every spider you find in your house is already dead, thank your cat. And, finally – particularly in the Southeast and more specifically in Florida – if you never see a living palmetto bug, thank your cat. Even cats that don’t need to hunt still enjoy it as an instinctual part of their personalities and they will go after anything smaller than they are that moves.But cats’ work skills don’t end with their hunting abilities. Some cats receive training as service animals for a variety of conditions. Some cats can predict when their owners are about to suffer a seizure. The cat’s timely alert allows the owner to get to a safe place or take medication that stops seizures. They also serve to calm people suffering with anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses. Still others visit hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities to bring joy to patients and residents.