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There are no words for the irony. Feral cats were original inhabitants of the Magic Kingdom…the place that started with a mouse.
Original Rulers of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
When Disneyland opened in 1955, the interior of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was empty. Later, when Walt Disney decided to build a walk-through attraction inside the castle, they discovered a significant number of feral cats had claimed it as their royal home. Unfortunately, there was also a huge infestation of fleas.
Homes were found for all the castle cats, the place was treated for fleas, and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle became the walk-through attraction we know it as today. Everything was good. That is, until rodents began to take over the park. Again…the irony.
No one had taken into consideration that the castle cats provided a much needed service–they kept the park free of unsavory vermin. So, when a new group of feral cats found their way onto Disneyland property, they were allowed to stay. These cats were trapped, neutered, then returned (TNR) to their home “land”, to maintain a stable (cat) population.
It’s no spoof, I’ve got proof!
Today, the Disneyland Resort (Anaheim, California) is home to approximately 200 feral cats. Disney neuters, feeds, and provides medical care for the cats, and in return the cats keep the park free of rodents and other vermin.
Feral cats are not socialized to people, and prefer to stay out of sight. I recently visited Disneyland with the intention of photographing some of the resident feral cats. Intention is the operative word. I managed to get pictures of 9 of the 200 feral cats, and consider myself extremely lucky. Here’s proof of Disneyland’s most elusive ca(s)t members.
Becky ~ Rancho del Zocalo restaurant, Disneyland
Early one morning, I caught Becky climbing up to her perch atop Frontierland’s Mexican restaurant, Rancho del Zocalo. The way she poses, you’d think she knows the Bougainvillea backdrop compliments her complexion.
Francisco & Friend ~ Grizzly River Run, California Adventure
Francisco (left) hangs out at Grizzly River Run in California Adventure, and is one of the friendliest of Disneyland’s feral cats. He’s been known to come near the fence to give park guests excellent photo-ops. His** friend (right) came out too, but stayed at a distance in camouflage.
**Most tortoiseshell cats are female, as are calico cats. However, there are rare male tortoiseshell and calico cats. Likewise, most orange tabby cats are male, yet I have a friend with a female orange tabby.
Giovanni & Friend ~ California Adventure
Giovanni (left) hangs out at the Wine Country Trattoria restaurant (California Adventure) behind the upstairs terrace. His friend (right) hugged the rock wall far in the distance, pausing only long enough for me to snap a picture before darting out of sight.
Disneyland Hotel Feline Cast Members
Cats also patrol the property around the Disneyland Resort hotels. I stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, and found a few shy cast members luxuriating in the bushes surrounding the pool and Trader Sam’s on the warm, sunny afternoons.
I learned the names of some of Disneyland’s cats from talking with cast members when I visited the Park.