Maybe the world will take the lead of Walt Disney and his feral cats of Disneyland.
–Al Hunter, Weekly View, The Feral Cats of Disneyland
Disneyland does TNR! This is the news my husband gave me earlier this year. Ever since I started volunteering for Husker Cats, a volunteer group “working to ensure high-quality life for cats living in feral colonies on campus”, my husband and I have been interested in the topic of Trap-Neuter-Release programs. Disneyland being a well-established entertainment park, the fact they embrace their feral cat colony speaks volumes.
When did feral cats first appear at Disneyland? According to Disneyland Cats, the cats have been around since the California them parked opened in 1955. The basic gist of the story is that as a new attraction was being considered, planners made two discoveries: scores of feral cats, and an infestation of fleas.
To make way for the new attraction, something needed to be done about the cats: Weekly View reports that the cats were considered to be a bit of a nuisance and even a possible threat to the guests. And yet Disneyland Cats suggests that the traditional method of trap and kill would not have been well-received by patrons. Back then, Trap-Neuter-Release wasn’t an established practice, and so the chosen solution was to adopt out all the cats.
Ultimately, however, a more permanent and long-term solution was needed. It was likely that cats throughout the park. In addition, new feral cats were arriving at the park every day, drawn there by the abundant food scraps left behind by park guests and by rodents seeking the same food scraps. Adopting out the cats simply could not keep up with the influx of cats.
The park decided to put the cats to work as ratters. Being feral, and so shy and reclusive by nature, the cats stayed hidden and out of the way during the day when patrons swarmed the park. Then at night, when these colonies of cats were free to roam the grounds unobserved, they would act as natural exterminators. (More than one article points out the irony of a park known for its cartoon rodent mascot now finding itself at war with the real thing. ) “We view them as partners. It’s kind of a symbiotic relationship with them,” explains Gina Mayberry, who oversees the Circle D Ranch where Disneyland’s animals are housed, to Alley Cats Allies.
For many years, Disneyland let nature take its course. It embraced their feral cats as allies, but did not actively manage their population. So when did TNR first get started at Disneyland? Disneyland Cats doesn’t specify a date, but just says that the relationship established between the company and the cats “still operates in basically the same fashion today”. Some articles say Disneyland introduced TNR in 2001, others say 2007. There is also no consensus about the program’s catalyst: maybe it was former “Price is Right” host Bob Barker, or maybe it was animal welfare volunteer groups, or maybe the park took it upon themselves. In any case, according to Disneyland Cats, the TNR program is now in place: the cats are all spayed or neutered, feeding stations are located throughout the park “where the cats [can] get their fill when they [can’t] subsist on hunting alone,” and medical treatment is provided when needed.
Various articles estimate that the Disneyland colony numbers about 200 cats. Although visitors aren’t encouraged to get close to and/or feed the cats, Disneyland Cats does note that some of the feeding station locations where guests are most likely to spot a cat include: the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Disneyland, Taste Pilot’s Grill at DCA, White Water Snacks at the Grand Californian, the Rose Court Garden at the Disneyland Hotel, and in the ditch that runs parallel to the path for the Mickey and Friends Tram. Also, you can see photos of them here: Disneyland Cats Will Make You Purr. Apparently, if any cats do start getting overly comfortable with humans, they are found forever homes with cast members.
Disneyland Resort’s TNR program proves that large, high-profile organizations and feral cat colonies can not only peacefully share the same property, but also strike up a mutually beneficial relationship that improves conditions for both parties.
–Alley Cat Allies, TNR At Work
Another large company that embraces TNR is Google. On the Gcat Rescue site, the reason given for its TNR program is increased sightings of cats, and particularly kittens, drew their attention. Volunteers trap regularly throughout the year when the Humane Society of Silicon Valley (HSSV) holds their low cost clinics, as well as anytime the group is aware of new cats on the campus. To date, the group has rescued, adopted, or placed almost 150 cats.
If you wish to support Trap Neuter Release right here in Lincoln, Nebraska, check out organizations that provide it. The Cat House and Husker Cats always needs volunteers, donations, and those willing to foster and/or adopt. Help them out today! To get involved on a more national level, check out the Community Cats Movement.