Disneyland Employs a Rodent-Hunting Army of 200 Feral Cats

Did you know Disneyland has an army of feral cats to control their rodent population?

While this article title may sound like part of one of Disney’s selection of traumatizing 1980s kids movies (Don’t watch Fox & the Hound – and if you did, continue to block it from your memory), Disneyland actually employs a colony of approximately 200 rodent-hunting cats.

Disneyland feral community cats
Credit: @disneylandcats

How are these feral cats “employees” of Disneyland?

First, note that these cats are feral and not strays. So they’re generally elusive, avoid the crowds, and are more active at night. But many have warmed up to humans or just generally DGAF – And can be seen quite close to people and even allowing some pets or skritches to lucky visitors.

Disneyland sign explaining feral cats as pest control
Disneyland sign about the “Community Cats”

Called “Community Cats” by Disney, these wild kitties are provided with food, housing, and free medicare. They also neuter/spay many of them, but as there are too many to keep track of, kittens often pop up. Many kittens are adopted by Disneyland staff, along with adult cats who have become too friendly with human visitors and are better off as pets. And instead of using poison and other methods, the cats provide a much cuter alternative pest control!

There are several celebrity cats in the colony

Over the years, a selection of the cats has grown fanbases with Disneyland superfans and staff. Fransicso, Giovanni, Cece (aka Patches) and the late Nutmeg (RIP) are some of the most famous felines. Below is Nutmeg, a favorite that was often seen at the Magic Key Terrace at Disney California Aventure, who sadly passed away in May. Nutmeg and her crew were so beloved there that the park created beautiful custom tiles of them.

Another favorite is Francisco, who even has his own hashtag #FranciscoFriday. A fan also created a video montage dedicated to him.

This is Giovanni looking gorgeous.

This kitty managed to commandeer an empty stroller.

What is the history behind the Disneyland feral cats?

This feline fable starts back when Disneyland’s iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle was still under construction, with feral cat sightings going back to 1955. Disney Imagineers soon found a colony of feral cats had already moved into the castle (along with a flea infestation.) They didn’t want to exterminate the cats, which would also upset the visitors who already enjoyed spotting them around, so they decided to work with them. First, they dealt with the fleas and tried to get all the kitties adopted by the park staff.

Disneyland castle being constructed
Credit: Disneyland

But then they had to consider two problems: They couldn’t herd all the wild kitties, and they had a growing rodent problem. The cats were already enjoying the park, as it simulated the natural outdoors, minus any predators such as coyotes. So Disneyland started its “Community Cats’ division, which has continued ever since!

Ryan Gosling spills the secret on Disneyland’s secret killer cat army

Back in 2011, Ryan Gosling (a former Disney Mouseketeer) was interviewed by Conan O’Brien. Hey went on to share an embellished story of Disney’s feral cats, which led to many believing the cats were a myth. (And also led to the creation of the Ryan Gosling Disneyland cats Tumblr.)

Ryan Gosling Disneyland feral cat army
Credit: ryangoslingdisneylandcats.tumblr.com

There’s a belief that Disney is breeding an army of cats. And they’re not just ordinary cats. They have a special set of skills. They’re like commando cats. And they live in [cat] barracks on the outskirts of the park. And at night, when they close the park, under the cover of darkness, these cats ascend into the park and they eat all of the mice. which is what I love about Disney, because they’re so weird and they think of everything. And they go back when the sun comes up and do it all again. But the thing that’s so messed up about it, and why I hate them, is that the whole empire of Disney is built on the back of one mouse… If you’re a mouse and you go into Disneyland, you’re not leaving alive.

Ryan Gosling, Conan on TBS, September 2011
feral cat army patrolling Disneyland for rodents
How Ryan Gosling imagines Disneyland’s “Community Cats”
[Gosling’s Disney commando cats rant]

If you’re now a fan (or a feral cat who wants to enlist, visit disneylandcats.com. And in case you missed it, check out all the pets of The Little Mermaid cast and The Barbie Movie cast.

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