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The cats are out of the bag. And to think it happened in Fantasyland… There’s more to their covert kitty fluff than gratuitous sass and snark, though. Disneyland cats are working cats-members that provide a valuable function in the Happiest Place on Earth.
Covert Kitties Turned Social Media Mavens
Several years ago Taylor Roberts, a freelance writer, glimpsed a cat darting across a path in Fantasyland and snapped a picture.
That night he started the Cats of Disneyland Twitter account with tweets voiced by the witty cats. A web site soon followed: Cats of Disneyland.
With Roberts’ dry humor combined with photos of the covert cats, Disneyland’s secret cats-members skyrocketed to social media stardom. Articles about Disneyland cats were featured in the Los Angeles Times and KTLA. Blog posts were written about them, like my 2015 post, The Cats Behind the Mouse. (Giovanni, Disneyland California Adventure, PC:Elizabeth Fais)
In a theme park inspired by the world’s most famous mouse, it’s the cats of Disneyland who have the run of the place. —Los Angeles Times
Cats-members with a Cause
Disney parks pride themselves in cleanliness. So it’s a little embarrassing that cats are necessary for the Disney “Mouse” squeaky clean image. In truth, the cats play an important role in keeping rats and other vermin out of the Park.
Disneyland’s cats have been behind-the-scenes cast members since the Park opened in 1955, infiltrating the grounds from the surrounding orange groves of the time.
The cats at Disneyland are feral, which means they are happy living and hunting outdoors, and prefer to stay away from people.
I became interested in the cat population at Disneyland, because of the work I do with feral cats in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve made several trips to Disneyland to research the cats. On one trip, I talked with the manager of the feral cat program and here’s what I learned:
- Approximately 200 cats live at the Disneyland Resort, including Disneyland California Adventure, the Disneyland Hotel, and the Grand Californian Hotel.
- The cats have been trapped, spay or neutered, and then released (TNR) back into the park. This is the proven, humane method for managing feral cat populations. For more information, read about Stanford campus’ Feline Friends Network.
- There are feeding stations for the cats “back stage” to supplement their diet and keep them healthy.(PCs:Elizabeth Fais, Ned, at the Disneyland Hotel)
- They’ve implemented an ingenious flea management program that is low-stress for the cats and highly effective.
- The cats are given medical care and attention, as needed. This ensures healthy, long lives for each of the cats.
- When a cat becomes too friendly with Park guests, they are given a home with a devoted Park employee.
- Feeding and petting the cats is discouraged at all times. Disneyland cats are wild animals, and must be treated with respect and caution.
- The best times to get a glimpse the cats are early in the morning (early admission, if possible), or around sunset. Feral cats are nocturnal, and usually sleep out of sight during the day.
- Ask cast members for tips on where the cats hang out. The evening crew seemed to know the most when I asked, as that’s when the cats are most active.
Disneyland Cats: Unsung Heroes!
Something must be done…I mean sung! The “underdog story” is popular in the Disney Classics library. It’s time to break old boundaries and blaze new trails. We need an “undercat story” accompanied with terrific songs. Of course!
Francisco’s already to auditioning!
(PC: Elizabeth Fais, Francisco, Disneyland California Adventure)