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Home > Cats > 8 Surprising Jobs That Cats Can Do

8 Surprising Jobs That Cats Can Do

cat wearing carribean pirate costume

When most people think of working animals, dogs and horses come to mind. But cats can be a remarkably valuable addition to the human-animal relationship, performing jobs that would shock even the most avid feline fans.

Here are the eight surprising jobs that cats can do, ranging from mascot sailors to cuddly companions for inmates.


The 8 Jobs That Cats Can Do

1. Shipmate

One of the oldest enduring jobs for a cat is as a shipmate. Keeping domestic cats on ships dates back over 9,000 years. Ancient Egyptians used cats to hunt birds on riverbanks, but merchant sailors kept cats on ships to keep the rodent population down and conserve grain and other goods for long journeys.

2. Ratters

Much like controlling rodents on ships, barn cats have been around as long as farming and keep the population of vermin under control. Ranging from housecats to feral cats, these cats spend a lot of time on farms and in barns to keep out mice, rats, weasels, squirrels, and other animals that can spread disease and eat grain.

Burmese cat face before pounce hunting to toy mouse
Image By: Viacheslav Lopatin, Shutterstock

3. Firehouse Mascot

Firefighters often keep cats in the firehouse to keep the station pest-free and boost morale. This practice dates back to the 1800s, giving the cat a role as a station mascot. All firefighters on all shifts take turns providing care to the cats, including food, shelter, cleaning, veterinary care, and of course, playtime.

4. Library Cats

Cats are often kept in libraries and promote literacy and relaxation. Similar to cat cafes, library cats allow visitors to relax with a cuddly companion while enjoying their books and magazines. As quiet animals, cats are the perfect match for the tranquil atmosphere of a library.

5. Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are companion animals that help people with mental health issues. Though not trained to perform specific tasks like service animals, ESAs offer relief to people with conditions like depression and anxiety. Just about any animal can be considered an ESA since it’s not a legally recognized service, including cats.

Elderly woman hugging a grey cat
Image By: Alonafoto, Shutterstock

6. Inmate Support

The abundance of feral and homeless cats led to a program that brings cats into correctional facilities to help inmates develop a sense of routine, accountability, and companionship. After rigorous vetting processes, cats are brought into these facilities to interact with inmates and provide humane education, instill responsibility, and encourage compassion.

7. Celebrities

Some cats have risen to the level of celebrity and made a name for themselves in the industry. Cats can be influencers, social media stars, or stage cats in theater productions. Some notable examples include Grumpy Cat, Keyboard Cat, and Morris the Cat.

8. Mayor

Yes, really! Talkeetna, AK, had a feline mayor for 20 years—Stubbs the Cat. This cat was named for his stubby tail and served from July 18, 1997, until his death on July 21, 2017. Like many public figures, he faced his fair share of danger, including a dog attack, a shooting from teenagers with BB guns, and an accident involving a (thankfully cool) deep fryer.

cat wearing cowboy costume
Image By: Michelle Moross, Shutterstock


Can Cats Do Work?

As this list indicates, cats are capable of performing some jobs to assist humans. While they may not serve the same purpose as dogs or horses, they can perform well as companions, ratters, and mascots to help humans in a variety of ways.



There you have it—the eight surprising jobs that cats can do. Cats get a lot of attention for pest control on farms and ships, but few people know how helpful they can be as mascots in firehouses, libraries, and other venues.

Featured Image Credit: danilobiancalana, Shutterstock

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