Army of Stray Cats Battles Plague of Rats in Western China

Brian Setzer may not be reforming his old band but the stray cats are ready to strut, and by strut we mean open a can of whoopa$$ on ravenous rats plaguing the western Chinese city of Bole. Olé!

Since cats don't read or listen to the news – wee paws for station identification – farmers in the Bole area have been recruiting them into a fearsome fur-some “Army of Cats", sicced since May on the ravenous rodents who are eating the Boleians (Bolites? Bolers?) out of house, home and farm.

It's biological warfare on a massive scale... or at least, a Tom & Jerry-ish, Itchy & Scratchy type scale. Rats have enjoyed easy pickings of late since their principle predators – foxes and eagles – have been displaced by rapid urbanization and industrialization in Xinjiang.

Cats, on the other hand, have coexisted with people for a few thousand years. Zoologists surmise that the domestication of cats probably occurred as a result of human appreciation for their penchant for rodent-control, so it's fitting that we've gone back to the future, so to speak.

The cat army presently numbers about 100, most sourced from Bole's mean streets where they survived on restaurant scraps, garbage, and the kindness of passersby. “Only a hundred,” you sniff snidely? These are tough, no-nonsense, inner city cats I tell ya! They take no guff and take no prisoners. Forestry workers from Bole have made efforts to make their new rat-reducing recruits comfortable out in the rural boonies by constructing cozy sleeping enclosures for them near convenient water sources.

Even local government authorities are lending a helping hand. “In winter, when the minimum temperature drops to minus 30 degrees Celsius,” explained Bole forest worker Li Hua, “they will stay in local herders' homes – these herders will get government subsidies in return.”

Recent reports from the field... fields actually, indicate the Cat Commandos are pushing the Rat Pack back on all fronts. Not only have Li and his fellow forest workers observed fewer rats in areas patrolled by the cat army, “Local herders also say they have seen fewer rat holes.” Hello kitty, goodbye Mickey!

Hopefully this organized renewal of the ancient cat vs rat rivalry doesn't get out of hand with the army of cats turning against their erstwhile masters... then I guess the world will go to the dogs. (via Mainichi and IndiaTalkies, images via FARK and Weirdly Odd)

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