Most cat owners readily accept that their felines earn their keep only through snuggling sessions and the occasional dead bird on the stoop.
However, there are some ambitious cats that are truly working for their kibble, putting in a full day’s work in such industries as security, fitness and even meteorology.
Lisa Rogak explores various types of kitty-held careers in her book "Cats on the Job: 50 Fabulous Felines who Purr, Mouse, and Even Sing for Their Supper." Here's a sneak peek at some of the book’s featured felines, and we saw this as an opportunity to share the stories of other hard-working kitties not covered in the book.
Félicette underwent similar rigorous training as her human counterparts. (Photo: Deefaze/Wikimedia Commons)
Appropriately nicknamed Astro-Cat, Félicette was the first cat to go into space and the only cat to ever survive the trip. Félicette, a stray, flew up to space in a Véronique AGI 47 sounding rocket on Oct. 18, 1963. After reaching about 100 miles (160 kilometers), Félicette's capsule detached from the rocket and headed back into space. While she was only in space for 15 minutes, it did land her precious face on a commemorative stamp.
Station master (and, later, Shinto goddess)
Tama, the station master of Kishi Station on the Kishigawa Line in Kinokawa was probably one of the best-known working cats in her day, thanks in no small part for saving the tiny station. The station was slated for closure in the mid-00s, but in 2007, the owners of the lined elected to make Tama, the cat of a local storeowner, the station master in an effort to boost awareness and use of the station.
From '07 until her death in 2015, Tama greeted visitors and was paid in cat food. Tourists flocked to meet the feline, using the station to do it. The city similarly cashed in, creating Tama-themed cafe and shops. All told, it's estimated that Tama contributed around 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) to the local economy. When she died, Tama was enshrined as a Shinto goddess, the honorable eternal station master.
There's no shortage of library cats in the world. They're good for pest control, they're fairly independent and they don't make much noise. And we imagine cats love libraries because, well, there plenty of shelves and nooks to explore or to use for napping. Not everyone is such big fans of library cats, however. Pictured above is one such example: Browser, the library cat and mascot for White Settlement, Texas. The city council voted to evict Browser in 2016, but an outpouring of support convinced the council to reverse its decision. Browser has an honorary GED (he routinely attends the library's GED classes) and he is the subject of the library's annual fundraiser calendar.
Like library cats, there are more than a few cats that hold political office. Perhaps most iconic of them was Stubbs, the (almost certainly honorary) mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, from 1997 until his death in 2017. Stubbs "ran" Talkeetna from Nagley's General Store, where he greeted constituents and drank catnip laced water from wine glasses. In 2014, someone drafted Stubbs to run for U.S. Senate, but Stubbs didn't win the seat. The Anchorage Daily News dismissed the claims that the town had a cat for mayor as "Made up. Concocted. A fable."
Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office
In perhaps the most official posting on the list, Larry is the mouser for 10 Downing Street, aka the headquarters of the government for the United Kingdom. Larry spends his days "greeting guests to the house, inspecting security defenses and testing antique furniture for napping quality." His plans to eliminate the mice in the building is still "in tactical planning stage," however.
Permanent hotel resident
New York City's Algonquin Hotel has had a cat on the premise since the 1930s. Since then, whenever the hotel is home to a male cat, his name is Hamlet. If the cat is a female, her name is Matilda. After three Matildas all in a row, the hotel is currently hosting a Hamlet. This Hamlet was found among a feral colony on Long Island, according to the hotel. In addition to daily brushings, Hamlet VIII also attends "birthday parties [and] fashion show benefits" that are held at the hotel.
Weather observer cat
Cats have long been employed as mousers at New Hampshire's Mount Washington Observatory, which sits at the top of the highest peak in the Northeast. As the only heated building atop the summit, the observatory attracts plenty of rodents, so a steady stream of kitties has been brought in to keep rat and mouse populations in check.
A black cat named Marty makes his home at the observatory, entertaining tourists and assisting the night staff with weather observations through the graveyard shift.
Editor's note: This story was originally published in October 2015 and has been updated with new information.