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Whiskers at Work: The Many Roles of Cats

A person using a desktop computer with a cat lying

From barn cats keeping pests at bay to therapy cats providing comfort, our feline friends are proving they’re more than just nap masters. These cats at work span various roles — from 9-to-5 felines to social media moguls — showcasing their versatility beyond simply snoozing the day away.

Pest Patrol and Critter Control: Working Cats

Resilient and independent, ‘working cats’ are felines tasked with keeping rodents and other pests at bay. These cats act as natural pest deterrents in a range of settings, including businesses, farms, and other properties. Compared to indoor house cats, working cats are typically remarkably self-sufficient and resilient, requiring less attention and able to thrive with minimal human interaction.

While commonly referred to as barn cats or mousers, these street-smart felines can be found fulfilling their duties in various locations. They’re often employed at wineries, farms, libraries, bodegas, and other facilities to help control rodent populations. Though their responsibilities may differ slightly, there are several types of working cats, including:

  • Barn or Farm cats: Barn cats, also known as farm cats, are felines that reside primarily outdoors, often in settings such as barns, farms, or rural properties. Their primary role is to control rodent populations that could threaten crops or stored food. In exchange for their valuable pest control services, farmers provide them with food and shelter. Barn cats are known for their hardiness, self-reliance, and ability to adapt to the challenges of living in a rural setting.
  • Bodega cats: Much like farm cats, a bodega cat is typically a mixed breed cat kept as a form of pest control to manage or prevent rodent infestations. A bodega cat may be a domesticated cat that is kept by the bodega owner, or a semi-feral cat that the bodega owner attracts to the store through regular feeding.
  • Library cats: Library cats are feline residents who provide companionship, comfort, and whimsy to libraries. Often adopted or allowed to roam, these cats have been members of library life at institutions around the world. Their calming presence can provide a soothing atmosphere in the sometimes-hectic library environment. Library cats can serve practical purposes as well, such as helping to control pests like mice.

Working cats often come from shelters as part of the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. Under this plan, stray community cats are caught, fixed, given any needed meds and shots, and then released back into the wild, or, in this case, employed as Head Mouser on someone’s official Rodent Control Team.

Prescription Purrs: Therapy Cats and ESA Cats

Through their quiet affection and deep attachments to people, the companionship of cats has been shown to greatly benefit us both physically and psychologically, replenishing our mind, body, and soul.

Therapy Cats

Therapy cats use their purring skills and sweet nature to provide calming and healing benefits to the people they meet. These gentle cats don’t perform specific tasks like their service animal counterparts, nor can they help their owners perform day-to-day tasks or detect allergens. Instead, they work alongside their human handler to volunteer in various settings to support people in need.

Cats can be appealing as therapy animals for people who don’t like dogs. They may be a good choice for patients with limited mobility as well, as many enjoy curling up in people’s laps. They’re often taken to nursing homes to comfort residents who may be lonely, allowing the elderly to spend meaningful time petting, cuddling, grooming, and playing with the therapy cat.

There are three main types of cat therapy:

  • Therapeutic visitation: Therapy cats visit healthcare facilities to keep residents and patients company. Often, sick people can’t bring their pets with them, so having a feline friend come by may motivate them to focus on recovery and return to their whiskered copilot waiting for them at home.
  • Animal-assisted therapy: These cats help patients recover from chronic issues or injuries through relaxing activities like petting and light play.
  • Facility therapy: Therapy cats live at care centers and are trained to interact with patients with Alzheimer’s or mental health challenges.

ESA (Emotional Support Animal) Cats

Did you know that cats also make ideal emotional support animals? Through their affectionate nature and deep attachments to people, the companionship of emotional support cats has been beneficial for humans’ physical and psychological health.  Unlike a therapy cat who has been trained to visit public places to aid a variety of people, an emotional support cat is likely to benefit just their own human.

Emotional support cats, or ESA cats, help people with a range of stress-related conditions like PTSD, depression, and anxiety. They also assist the elderly in coping with a sense of isolation and even provide support to veterans suffering from combat-induced PTSD.

Ensuring your cat is safe, healthy, and happy keeps you moving, reduces worry about your own troubles, and gives you a sense of purpose. In fact, the frequency of a cat’s purr has been shown to promote healing! Their playfulness adds more fun to life, and who doesn’t get immense comfort out of cuddling up to a rumbling ball of fur and whiskers?

WFH Felines: Cats, Keyboards, and Companionship

In recent years, cats have emerged as the new go-to work-from-home companions as remote work has become the norm. These furry coworkers bring their playful antics and comforting presence to the home office, even with the occasional keyboard interruption or attempt to claim the laptop as their own.

Despite the minor disruptions they may cause, many remote workers find that having a cat around helps boost their productivity and overall mood. Other ways we benefit from kitten coworkers are:

  • Work-Life Balance: Having a cat while working from home can also help set work-life boundaries and act as a good reminder to take breaks. You can’t continue to be glued to your computer screen if your kitten is meowing for dinner or the litter box needs to be cleaned.
  • Reduced stress: Cats make us happy! It’s not just their cute way of making biscuits while you’re presenting on camera, or their little snores in the background of your Zoom meeting, many studies indicate petting a cat can help lower stress, and even just being around cats can make difficult situations more manageable.
  • Less loneliness and depression: Cats may not replace your coworkers and in-office conversation at the water cooler, but they can ease feelings of isolation. Owning and caring for a cat provides motivation, companionship, and happiness.

From knocking over coffee mugs with a casual swipe of the paw to strategically positioning themselves directly in front of the computer screen during crucial video calls, these furry coworkers have a knack for injecting a healthy dose of chaos into the remote work routine. Yet, despite their mischievous antics, it’s hard to stay annoyed when they curl up contentedly on your keyboard or demand belly rubs mid-meeting. Our work-from-home felines offer a welcomed sense of togetherness, proving that humans and cats make the perfect dynamic duo in the modern, work-from-home landscape.

Cat Content Creators and Influencer Felines

In the wild world of social media, cat influencers have taken the digital landscape by storm. These famed felines have carved out their own adorable niche, captivating audiences with their irresistible charm and one-of-a-kind personalities. With millions of followers and high-paying brand deals, cat influencers have become virtual celebrities, with their daily lives documented and adored by fans around the globe.

What sets cat influencers apart is their ability to effortlessly blend entertainment with authenticity. Through candid snapshots and endearing videos, they offer glimpses into their daily routines, showcasing their quirky habits, playful antics, and heartwarming moments of companionship. Whether it’s lounging in sunbeams, chasing after feather toys, going wild with some catnip, or snuggling up with their human, these kitties have mastered the art of captivating their audience with their charm.

The influence of cats on social media extends far beyond providing entertainment, though. In recent years, many companies have recognized the marketing potential of these sleek, whiskered stars, tapping into their massive fan base to promote their products and services. Cat influencers have seamlessly transitioned into brand ambassadors, collaborating with companies for product promotions, sponsored content, and endorsements. From premium cat food and stylish accessories to innovative gadgets and cozy cat beds, these felines have become the face of a wide range of brands, lending their endorsement to products that align with their lifestyle and values.

With their irresistible charm, authenticity, and ability to bring people together, these influencer felines continue to win the hearts of audiences worldwide, proving that in the age of social media, the power of a perfectly curated feed knows no bounds.

Whether silently guarding crops and hunting rodents, offering therapeutic and emotional support, boosting productivity in home offices, or captivating audiences online, cats have woven themselves into the fabric of human society. They serve as reminders of the joy, companionship, and unexpected contributions that enrich our lives in both significant and subtle ways. Working cats are more than just pets; they are partners, healers, and influencers in their own right, leaving pawprints on our hearts and society as a whole.


By Annie Turner

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