When you head to any Disney Park, you might intend on seeing two world-famous mice, a couple ducks, a dog, and whatever Goofy is. Of course, you expect all these to be Disney Characters, with the real wildlife mostly situated at Animal Kingdom in Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort. But as it turns out, Disneyland in California is also home to a colony of feral cats, the park’s unofficial employees that are welcome to stay.
According to CNN, the kitties, which may number in the hundreds, have an important job to do. But don’t worry; they’re paid handsomely in care and accommodations.
“Park officials love the felines because they help control the mouse population,” the CNN article explains, adding that the kitties can always find a meal at one of the park’s five feeding stations. “Disney also goes to great lengths to manage its feline population. Wranglers at the park work to spay and neuter adult cats, and any time kittens are found, they’re put up for adoption.”
Although the presence of the purring employees may be news to you, apparently, they’ve been around for awhile.
“The first colony of feral cats at Disneyland was discovered in the late 1950s, when company executives decided to turn Sleeping Beauty Castle from a mere prop into a real attraction,” explains a recent story in The Orange Country Register. “Inside the building shell, according to Disney history buff and author David Koenig, workers discovered dozens of cats living there.”
It wasn’t long before park officials realized that they offered a solution for cheap and enthusiastic pest control, and encouraged them to stay.
CNN says that the majority of the colony creeps out at night after the crowds have gone away, but there are still a few friendlier cats who like to make public appearances. In fact, the spotlight-loving felines have become rather famous to park frequenters and a cult group of followers who view and share photos on the @disneylandcats Instagram page. Impressively, the kitties have over 65,000 fans (unbeknownst to them), plus there’s The Cats of Disneyland blog, which goes hand in hand (or rather, paw and paw?) with the Instagram handle.
“It’s something that’s so unexpected — that this colony exists,” Taylor Roberts, founder of the The Cats of Disneyland, shared with The Orange County Register. “They live here. This is their world. They think Big Thunder Mountain is just a normal place.”
Still, guests are asked to keep a respectful distance from the kitties because, after all, they are still feral. The Cats of Disneyland explains, “As a general rule, Disney doesn’t encourage guests to get too close to the cats. In addition to the simple fact that it’s never smart to try to pet a cat you don’t know, these cats are often better off remaining solitary.”
And if the kitties start approaching passers-by to offer head-rubs and purrs? “If cats start to appear too comfortable around humans, Disney will adopt them out to cast members,” the blog explains.
It’s unclear whether a cluster of cats rule the night at Disney World in Florida, but if there are, it’s probably safe to say that the kitties wouldn’t get turned away.
Have you ever seen one of these furry “cast members” at Disneyland?