Got A Rat Problem? Get A Cat To…Befriend It And Groom It?

Cats and humans began their grand partnership some 10,000 years ago, when kitties handled humans’ pesky rodent problem and people repaid the felines with food, shelter and companionship.

Now the deal’s off, apparently.

Yesterday a Reddit user shared a video titled “When you get a cat hoping it will help you get rid of the big rat in your yard.”

The video shows the user’s new cat, a tortoiseshell/calico, “solving” the rat problem by befriending the rodent, playing with it and even grooming it.

The video has amassed almost 86,000 upvotes in 24 hours.

The odd friendship between feline and rodent is not without precedent. Studies have shown that cats are not effective rodent hunters in urban settings where rats have gone unchallenged for so long that they rival or exceed the size of most members of Felis catus.

In certain neighborhoods of New York City, for example, researchers observed cats essentially ignoring massive rats and in some cases eating trash side by side with them. The largest rats, apparently aware of the truce, are equally unconcerned by the presence of the cats. Other rats were more cautious around kitties.

The scene reminded me of the time my brother wanted me to bring Bud over to handle his rat problem. At the time he was living on 88th St. in Manhattan, less than a block from Gracie Mansion. His apartment had an unusual perk for Manhattan living — it was a spacious ground floor flat that opened up into a private, fenced-in backyard with grass and a few trees.

Mighty Bud
Tremble before him! Buddy the Mighty Slayer of Rodents!

In fact, it was one of the first places I took Buddy after adopting him. He was just a kitten, maybe 14 weeks old, and I brought him with me on a warm summer day when my brother had a few friends over for a barbecue.

Buddy made fast friends with my brother’s Chihuahua-terrier mix, Cosmo, and spent the day playing with his doggie cousin, frolicking in the grass and chasing bugs around the yard. Then he got a treat: Steak from the grill, chopped into tiny Buddy-size pieces.

Having a backyard in Manhattan was awesome, but there was a downside. At night the yard was like a stretch of highway for marauding rats who ran across it in numbers with impunity, probably en route to raiding the garbage bins of a bodega on the corner of 88th. The rats were so emboldened and so numerous, you could hear them scurrying across the yard at night.

My brother proposed bringing Buddy over and letting him loose in the yard after dark, letting his claws and predatorial instincts thin the rodential herd.

I declined, using the excuse that Bud could pick up diseases from going to war with the rats. That was true, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have come to that: At the first sign of those rats, Buddy would have run screaming!

(We don’t acknowledge that around him, of course. Officially, Buddy was not set loose upon the Manhattan rats because it would be grossly unfair to unleash such a meowscular, brave and battle-hardened feline warrior upon them.)

It’s one thing if Buddy won’t kill rats. He’s a wimp. But as the Reddit video illustrates, we are apparently closing the chapter on 10,000 glorious years of human-feline partnership, and officially entering the Era of Zero Reciprocity.

We do everything for our cats, and in return they nap, eat and allow us to serve them. From their point of view, it’s a fine deal.

Meowscular Buddy!
Just look at those meowscular guns and vicious claws!

9 thoughts on “Got A Rat Problem? Get A Cat To…Befriend It And Groom It?”

  1. Two of my farm cats are ratters. One eats the whole rodent and the other leaves bits behind, usually the legs and tails. We found a midden of rat parts in one part of the barn … Midnight is a good ratter!
    That said, snakes are even better ratters. They can go where cats can’t. Nature can be harsh. Buddy is smart to stay far away from rats. And if the rats are smart they’ll stay far, far away from Buddy the merciless.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cats are vicious for such cute, furry, derpy little animals. Creatures of paradox who can look cute even when they kill. Are your farm cats feral or do they interact with you?

      It’s funny, I really can’t imagine Bud killing anything. He puffs his chest out and acts like he’s a 500 pound tiger, but he’s such a baby.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mt farm cats are friendly. Some are the offspring of feral mothers, others were abandoned. The farm cats get the same care as the inside cats: food, medical care and petting. There’s never a shortage of homeless cats and kittens in the country.
        Buddy may not be in touch with his killer persona – yet. He may surprise you one day! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My cousin’s family has always had dogs, and after she moved out on her own two or three years ago, she converted to the Dark Side and adopted kitten litter mates.

        Just today I got a text from her with a photo showing her cats, who are adults now, and a cute kitten she just found crying in a tree. They’ve become the little guy’s parents now.

        I’m jealous of people like you and my cousin who live in areas where you get the opportunity to truly rescue cats. It’s awesome that you treat the barn cats the same as your indoor cats.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bella is a complete serial killer with 45 mice ( known kills) and 3 rats and a pigeon to her record but as Qulipy says they are adorable and she can turn on the charm totally when treats are around. her new partner ( Bertie – a black and white cat with a unique smile) has so far been kind to the local rodent population with a kill total of 0. A bit like lions in the wild, the lionesses do all the hunting…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow! Bella is a force to be reckoned with! Do you live on a farm, too? And you’re right, female cats seem to be the better hunters, probably because they have to feed their kittens.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My cat, Hairy was an awesome ratter. I lived in a nice neighborhood, but tearing down of old buildings near the water sent rats scurrying through our neighborhood in the hundreds. I’d let Hairy out in the morning and when I went to let him back in there would be a dead beheaded rat on my doormat. I never knew what he did with the heads. Perhaps he hung them on a wall underneath the garage to admire his skills or maybe he left them in the beds of other cats that he was trying to control.
    His kill rate was so phenomenal that the DR next door begged me to leave him there when I moved.

    Liked by 1 person

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