A Chicago animal shelter has backed the release of stray cats to combat the US city's ongoing rat problem.
The Tree House Humane Society has been neutering the animals before they are returned to patrol the streets after the city was named the 'rat capital' of the states for six consecutive years.
Pest control specialists Orkin rank metropolitan areas by the number of new rodent treatments performed from September 2019 to August 31, 2020 – with Chicago at the top.
However, the city has been fighting back with the 'Cats at Work' program that has released 1,000 cats onto the streets since 2012.
The Tree House Humane Society shelter claims to be using feral felines that "wouldn’t thrive in a home or shelter environment", or "those cats cannot be reintegrated into their former colonies" as Windy City's new brand of pest control.
The shelter told WGN9: "Cats are placed two or three at a time into residential or commercial settings in order to provide environmentally friendly rodent control.
"Property and business owners provide food, water, shelter, and wellness to the cats who work for them. In most cases, our Cats at Work become beloved members of the family or team and some even have their own Instagram pages."
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But despite what people may think, the cats aren't out to kill the rodents.
Rather than killing them, the cats 'are actually deterring them with their pheromones' as shelter spokeswoman says that the smell is enough to keep them away.
Chicago has had a long history of pest problems dating back to the 1970s when residents were paid $1 for every rat they kill.
Last May, it was reported rats had become even more aggressive in their search for food in US cities as their supply dried up during Covid-19 lockdowns.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a new advisory alerting people to be aware of 'aggressive rodent behaviour' when the situation became serious.
The CDC statement read: "Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas.
"Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food.
"Environmental health and rodent control programs may see an increase in service requests related to rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behaviour."
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