Manatee County Working Cat Program matches feral cats to businesses needing pest control

Feral cats in Manatee County, Florida have a new purpose in life where they help rid an area of vermin. Thanks to the Manatee County Animal Services Working Cat Program, cats who would otherwise be deemed unwanted are given respect for the pest control service they provide.

feral cat program
EMS Station 5 with
working cat (ABC7)
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Hans Wohlgefahrt, Outreach and Event Specialist for Manatee County Animal Services, says the working cats program is working well, especially in areas with a high population of vermin. He considers feral cats an ideal solution.

Although people can adopt these feral cats, they need to understand these are not cuddly lap cats. The main responsibility of an adopter is to offer the cats food and a safe place to stay during their ‘down time.’ The cats may not be seen much during the day, as feral cats operate best at night in ridding a property of pests.

One such business to take part in the Working Cat Program is Manatee County EMS Station 5. One paramedic even built a shelter to house the six cats in their care to keep them safe from raccoons and coyotes.

Sherri Pellien, a paramedic with Manatee County EMS told My Suncoast News

“For us we enjoy them, just having them around being able to break away from the daily stress of our job. I think this is an important program because it gives animals that are coming into animal services another pathway for us to consider.”

Station 5 is one of several EMS facilities who employee working cats. The cats are spayed or neutered and given their vaccines before being taken to their new home. Not only are EMS facilities using the cats, Manatee County Animal Services has several working cats on their property in Palmetto.

Manatee County has a lot of information available on their website telling those interested how and why cats are deemed as qualified to be working cats. They help match businesses to the type of cat needed and always send cats as teams so the feral has a buddy.

“Occasionally a community cat cannot be returned to their colony. When this is the case, MCAS will sometimes designate these cats as “working cats.” Since they’re not ideal pets, we put them to work in local businesses doing what they do best. A working cat​ deters ​vermin, such as​ rodents. They are commonly employed where pest control is needed: in working farms, factories,​ warehouses, stores, churchyards, and private property.​​

Cats that qualify for the Working Cat Program are: social, but too feisty interacting with people and thrive by having “work” to do; shy or fearful of people and prefer the company of other cats and animals;  cats whose litterbox habits make them unsuitable to live indoors (and for whom medical issues have been ruled out). We do not adopt out cats as Working Cats if they are suitable to be household companions.”

Working cats are a safer and more effective means of rodent control and much cheaper than putting out toxic chemicals.

Manatee map

Anyone interested in learning more about the Manatee County Animal Services Working Cat Program can click here to view their website or call 941-742-5933.

Many animal shelters and humane societies offer a barn cat program. If you’re not in the Manatee County area, please contact your local shelter and ask if they have such a program.


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