Furry exterminators tackle rat problem

RENTON, Wash. — Workers at the King County South Wastewater Treatment Plant are used to the game of cat and mouse when trying to avoid the rats and other rodents drawn to the smell of sewage.

“I actually had a rodent run across my arm,” said Sarah Collins.  “I wasn’t too thrilled with that.”

So Collins got an idea three years ago: why not actually get a few cats to catch the rats?

Assistant Plant Manager Mike Wohlfert agreed.

“We figure it was worth a shot,” he said.

Now two feral cats prowl the grounds, rooting out rodents from beneath bushes and other hiding spots.  Collins and her husband even built a small barn for the cats so they have a safe place to sleep at night and a spot where they know they can get fresh water.

KIRO 7 was not expecting to find food in the barn, assuming the cats just ate the rats.  However, the food is critical to turn the cats into exterminators.  With a steady food source, the cats hunt the rats like a sport, one they are very good at.

“It’s far more cost effective than having pest control come on a weekly basis,” Wohlfert said.

The furry exterminators are not just saving taxpayers money, they are saving their own lives.  Barbara Horton helps rescue feral cats, which she says are often picked up by animal control and euthanized.

“They may be perfectly healthy and perfectly fine but just can’t be adopted out as pets,” Horton said.

She hopes now that the new use for feral cats is out of the bag, more people looking to get rid of rodents will consider building their own tiny barns.


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