Chicago Distillery Guarded by Feral Cats Is a Win for Everyone

Grain stores in a Chicago distillery benefit from feral cat guards while the cats get a chance to have a happy home.

Grain stores in a Chicago distillery benefit from feral cat guards while the cats get a chance to have a happy home.

feral-cats-guard-distillery-chicago
Via @distillerycats on Instagram

Feral felines in Chicago are finally finding their place in the world courtesy of Tree House Humane Society’s Cats at Work Program – a TNR endeavor that relocates feral cats to barns, factories, loading docks, even backyards to work on rodent control.

“People assume they’re going to be aggressive or attack them,” Jenny Schlueter, manager of Cats at Work told DNAinfo. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. They’re not wild animals. They’re still domesticated cats, but they’ve been ‘unsocialized.’ Their socialization is always changing. They can become quite friendly.”

In this particular case, four feral cats have been moved to Chicago’s Empirical Brewery, where they hold the much-coveted position of rodent control jedis.

“If a brewer says they don’t have rats, they’re lying,” said Bill Hurley, owner of Empirical, 1801 W. Foster Ave.

Attracted by the stock of high-quality grain, breweries are a rodent’s paradise; thus the need for ratters – which is where Venkman, Raymond, Egon, and Gozer, Empirical Brewery’s chosen ones, enter the picture.

Dubbed the Ghostbusters, the quartet of distillery cats are extremely hard workers, keeping rodents at bay day in and day out, and even making friends with their human co-workers – who were kind enough to buy the motley crew an array of toys before realizing they wanted only one thing for entertainment: cardboard boxes!

Though keeping cats may seem like a strange thing for businesses in 2015, it has become quite the trend, prompting the creation of a popular Instagram page @distillerycats, and providing breweries with the type of rodent control they once only dreamed of. Since the Ghostbusters arrived on the brewery scene last December, Empirical hasn’t seen a single rodent – quite the change from the days when they hired a human exterminator for lackluster results.

“Just their presence keeps us safe,” said Hurley. “They’re the only reason we can store grain. We also didn’t want to live with rodents.”

As for Tree House, who feel the struggle of convincing men that cuddling cats is every bit as macho as constructing houses or working on cars on a daily basis, they could not be more thrilled with the way in which Empirical staff has embraced their feline colony.

“We’re so grateful to them,” Schlueter said. “They’re good role models for guys.”

Who says cats don’t earn their keep, hmmm?

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