Friday, December 21, 2007

Cats v Rats

Feline Domesticus v Genus Rattus

The media frenzy shown in the video above happened on February 23, 2007 in New York City.

What would you do if you had a small store and the choice was keep a tabby -- against the rules of the Health Code -- or be overrun with rats?
The New York Times

Amid the goods found in the stores, there is one thing that many owners and employees say they cannot do without: their cats. And it goes beyond cuddly companionship. These cats are workers, tireless and enthusiastic hunters of unwanted vermin, and they typically do a far better job than exterminators and poisons.

When a bodega cat is on the prowl, workers say, rats and mice vanish.

But as efficient as the cats may be, their presence in stores can lead to legal trouble. The city’s health code and state law forbid animals in places where food or beverages are sold for human consumption. Fines range from $300 for a first offense to $2,000 or higher for subsequent offenses.

“Any animal around food presents a food contamination threat,” said Robert M. Corrigan, a rodentologist and research scientist for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “And so that means anything from animal pieces and parts to hair and excrement could end up in food, and that alone, of course, is a violation of the health code.”

Mr. Corrigan did concede that some studies have shown that the smell of cats in an enclosed area will keep mice away. But he does not endorse cats as a form of pest control because, he explained, the bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and nematodes carried by rats may infect humans by secondary transfer through a cat.

Still, many store owners keep cats despite the law, mainly because other options have failed and the fine for rodent feces is also $300. “It’s hard for bodega owners because they’re not supposed to have a cat, but they’re also not supposed to have rats,” said José Fernández, the president of the Bodega Association of the United States.

There's more...
The picture above is a rat-catching-cat named Oreo, perched in a deli in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Oreo looks so... satiated.
photo Richard Perry/The New York Times. Click photo to enlarge.


The rats?


Or the cats? *waves to Oreo* *Oreo ignores me with dignity*