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Bureaucats: Whiskers in the Workplace

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Bureaucats: Whiskers in the Workplace

Post by Kitkat on Sat 03 Feb 2018, 17:00

A cat's life typically consists of sleeping, interspersed with eating and the occasional manic bout of skittishness, followed by a good old nap. But some of our feline friends actually work for a living and hold down a proper job - in some cases, complete with uniform.

Here are some of England's cats that do more than snooze, eat and sidle around while looking superior.

(Check out the link to see their pictures: )

Post Office cats

In 1868 three cats were formally employed as mousers at the Money Order Office in London. They were "paid" a wage of one shilling a week - which went towards their upkeep - and were given a six-month probationary period.
They obviously did their job efficiently as in 1873 they were awarded an increase of 6d a week. The official use of cats soon spread to other post offices.
According to the Postal Museum, the most popular cat of all was Tibs. Born in November 1950, at his biggest he weighed 23lbs (10.4kg) and lived in the Post Office headquarters' refreshment club in the basement of the building in central London. During his 14 years' service he kept the building rodent-free.

The last Post Office HQ cat, Blackie, died in June 1984, and since then there have been no further felines employed there.
An honourable mention must go to the Belgian authorities, who in the 1870s recruited 37 cats to deliver mail via waterproof bags attached to their collars. It was an idea posited by the Belgian Society for the Elevation of the Domestic Cat, which felt cats' natural sense of direction was not being fully exploited.
During a trial, the cats were rounded up from their villages near Liège, taken a few miles away and burdened with a note in a bag - with the idea the cat would return home complete with missive.
Although all the cats - and notes - eventually turned up, the feline disposition unsurprisingly proved unsuited to providing a swift or reliable postal service and the idea was dropped.

Police cats

Dogs have long been part of the police force, but cats rarely got a look-in - unless they were being arrested for burglary. But in the summer of 2016, Durham Constabulary recruited Mittens.
The appointment stemmed from a letter written by five-year-old Eliza Adamson-Hopper, who suggested the force add a puss to its plods.
"A police cat would be good as they have good ears and can listen out for danger. Cats are good at finding their way home and could show policemen the way," she said.
Mittens is not the only police cat. Oscar lives at Holmfirth Police Station in Huddersfield, where his job involves being "a therapeutic source of support for my officers", and Smokey is a volunteer welfare officer at Skegness Police Station.
As a spokesman from the station said, "being a police officer can be very fast-paced and stressful job so when we need to take a break or grab some air now, many of us pop outside a spend a few minutes with Smokey".

Showbiz cats

Whether it's showing off in feature films, flogging luxury pet food to besotted owners, or chilling out on the set of Blue Peter, there has long been a place for cats in front of the camera.
Arthur was the furry face of Spillers cat food for nearly 10 years from 1966, scooping Kattomeat from the tin into his mouth. He was such a star the brand was later renamed Arthur's in his honour. There were rumours that Arthur was made to use his paw to eat because advertisers removed his teeth - but the allegation proved to be untrue. He was just a natural paw-dipper.
Arthur II and Arthur III followed the original.
Blue Peter's Jason, a seal point Siamese, was the first in a long line of presenter pusses on the popular BBC children's programme. Others included Jack and Jill, who became known as the disappearing cats, because of their habit of leaping out of whichever lap they were in whenever they appeared on screen, and Willow, who was the first Blue Peter cat to be neutered or spayed.

Two red Persians played the role of Crookshanks in the Harry Potter film franchise - Crackerjack was a male and Pumpkin a female - while Mrs Norris was played by three Maine Coons named Maximus, Alanis and Cornilus - each was trained to perform a specific act, such as jumping on to actors' shoulders or lying still.

Museum cats

At some point before 1960, a colony of stray cats found its way to the British Museum and established itself there. Unneutered and untamed, it's estimated that at one point there may have been as many as 100 moggies roaming around.
Records in the British Museum's archive contain reports of kittens being born in the loading docks and running through the bookshelves of the museum library.
The museum eventually decided enough was enough. The invaders were set to be exterminated, but were saved by the museum's cleaner, Rex Shepherd, who set up the Cat Welfare Society and had the strays safely neutered and adopted, until the population was brought down to a more manageable six.

Under the guidance of Mr Shepherd, some of the cats, which were kept to control the vermin population, featured in newspaper articles - including a feature on them having their Christmas dinner - and became internationally famous. Suzie could snatch pigeons out of the air to eat them, while Pippin and Poppet were trained to roll over on command.
There are no living cats at the museum today - although there are some mummified ones in the displays. If you're after a live one, try the London Water and Steam Museum, which has Maudslay, a black and white fellow named after an engine, or the Jane Austen Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, where Marmite is on hand (or paw) to greet visitors.

As far back as 9,500 years ago, cats were used on naval ships and in rat-infested trenches. During World War One, the British Army and Royal Navy deployed nearly half a million to fend off pests on land and at sea.
By World War Two, nearly every vessel had at least one ship's cat.
One of them, Simon, became the only cat to be awarded the Dickin Medal - the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross - for helping to save the lives of naval officers during the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
While the ship was under siege for 101 days, he was credited with saving the lives of the crew by protecting the ship's stores from an infestation of rats.
The brave chap suffered severe shrapnel wounds when the ship came under fire and was given a hero's welcome when it eventually returned to dock in Plymouth. Simon lived long enough to get back to England, but died in quarantine three weeks later. He was buried in Ilford, Essex, with full military honours.

Another wartime hero was Crimean Tom, also known as Sevastopol Tom, who saved British and French troops from starvation during the Crimean War in 1854.
The regiments were occupying the port of Sevastopol and could not find food. Tom could. He led them to hidden caches of supplies stored by Russian soldiers and civilians.
Tom, who was taken back to England when the war was over, died in 1856, whereupon he was stuffed. He is now a permanent part of the National Army Museum in London.
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More cats with careers

Post by Kitkat on Sat 03 Feb 2018, 17:15

Welcome to Volume Two: More Cats with Careers.

(Check out the link for the pussycat pics: )

Cricket cats

What sport could possibly appeal more to a cat than one played at a languorous pace with scheduled meal breaks?
The sound of leather on willow appeals to some furry fans such as Brian, who is usually to be found at Somerset County Cricket Club. The handsome chap patrols the grounds and enjoys the ebb and flow of a county match.

Perhaps the best-known cricket cat was Peter, the Lord's cat, also known as the Marylebone Mog, who lived at the famous cricket ground in London from 1952 to 1964.
When the last of his nine lives ran out he became the only animal to be given an obituary in the Wisden almanac.
It described him as a well-known cricket-watcher who could often be seen prowling on the field of play; that he loved publicity and frequently appeared on the television.

Theatre cats

Many theatres in England had their very own cat, who played the dual role of keeping the building mouse-free and providing a calming back to stroke should stage fright kick in. Actress and cat-fan Beryl Reid (who left her £1m house to her cats when she died) said: "The act of stroking a cat is a great reliever of tension and brings down the blood pressure."
Reid also took home the Lyric Theatre's cat, Fleur, when the mouser retired.

One of the most famous theatre cats was Beerbohm, who lived at London's Gielgud Theatre (formerly the Globe) for 20 years. He was known for strolling across the stage while a production was under way, and made his debut in the Hinge and Bracket Review of 1976, stealing the limelight. He was also responsible for destroying feathered hats - and stuffed birds that were being used as props. He eventually retired to Beckenham with the theatre's master carpenter Tony Ramsay.
When he died in 1995, he became the only cat to be honoured with a front-page obituary in the theatre newspaper The Stage, which says the actors Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith were special fans. A further extract reads: "During the course of his career, he overcame a near-fatal road accident in Soho and beat off a chocolate addiction."

Girl Cat and Boy Cat were resident at the Noel Coward Theatre (formerly the Albery). Boy Cat's claim to fame was that during a Royal Gala performance he ate Princess Margaret's bouquet.

Current theatre cats include Pluto at Battersea Arts Centre who actually appeared in a production - he was the black cat in Edgar Allen Poe's The Masque of the Red Death - Marley and the one-eyed Pirate, who is currently missing from the Bush Theatre.

Literary cats

Dictionary-writer Samuel Johnson had a cat called Hodge, for whom he used to buy oysters. Hodge is mentioned in Boswell's Life of Johnson, where he is described as "a very fine cat indeed".
On his death, Hodge's life was celebrated in An Elegy on The Death of Dr Johnson's Favourite Cat by Percival Stockdale, published in 1778. In 1997 Hodge was immortalised in the form of a bronze statue outside the house in Gough Square he shared with Johnson.

Another cat that appeared in literature was Foss, Edward Lear's pet puss, who popped up rhymes and drawings. Servants had shortened Foss's tail in the belief it would keep him from wandering off, and he was on the rotund side and not considered an attractive cat. But Lear was very fond of him - to the extent that, legend has it, when Lear built a new house he instructed the architect to design it to be exactly like the old one so Foss would not be too disorientated by the move. The tabby features in the rhyme How Pleasant to Know Mr Lear.

He has many friends, lay men and clerical,
Old Foss is the name of his cat;
His body is perfectly spherical,
He weareth a runcible hat.

Mention should also be made of the second-most famous cat in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Dinah. Dinah was the real-life Alice's real-life cat.

Academic cats

Three-legged Jasper helps students at Cambridge University to relieve stress during the exam season.
The ginger tom officially belongs to the deputy librarian at the Marshall Library of Economics, and "tea with Jasper" events have proved popular with those wanting a break from swotting. Jasper can often be found snoozing on top of copies of the Financial Times.

At the University of Essex, Pebbles is the official campus cat on hand (paw) to greet students. He even has his own NUS card, complete with photographic ID, which entitles him to discounted entry to Colchester's clubs.

Political cats

Larry and Palmerston - official Chief Mousers at the Cabinet Office and Foreign Office respectively - may be the modern (furry) faces of government, but cats have been employed to rid the corridors of power of rats and mice since at least the 1800s.
Although many were in place in an unofficial capacity, "paid" merely with titbits and the innards of the the rodents they caught, records at the National Archives show that at least some received an allowance.
In 1929, Peter, a black cat at the Home Office, had 1d per day dedicated to his upkeep.
He was in position for 17 years and was followed by Peter II, who died young after being hit by a car, and then Peter III.

In 1964, breaking the glass ceiling, if not the monotony of naming, came Peta, a female Manx. Peta had been offered to the home secretary by the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man and was handed over with great ceremony.
Because of this, she was considered to have a diplomatic background and was paid as such - with a salary of £13 per annum.

When staff complained she was lazy and not housetrained and suggested she might be "put out to grass", a memo was issued ordering she must remain as her appointment had been so public that letting her go could result in adverse publicity.

Other notable political felines include Winston Churchill's cat Jock. When Churchill's home was given to the nation it was requested that there should always be a similar cat in residence. Jock VI is the current cat-in-residence at Chartwell.

In 1936 a tabby arrived at St Augustine's and St Faith's Church on Watling Street in the City of London, close to St Paul's Cathedral. The rector's wife found her a box to sleep in and some food, and the cat was allowed to stay. They named her Faith, after one of the church's saints.

In 1940, she gave birth to a kitten called Panda and shortly after, on Monday 9 September, the church was bombed. Faith found a recess and protected Panda throughout the raids - and remarkably, both survived.
Afterwards, the rector put a photograph and some text on the wall, paying tribute to the "bravest cat in the world" who "stayed calm and steadfast and waited for help" while the church collapsed and burned around her.

Still keeping the pews warm in the capital is Doorkins Magnificat, the cat-in-residence at Southwark Cathedral. In the spirit of the old nursery rhyme she is a "pussycat pussycat who met the Queen" when Her Majesty visited the cathedral in 2013.
Doorkins is famous enough to have a book published about her, which gives a complete tour of the cathedral and a typical week in the life of the Magnificat.

Pushkin of the Birmingham Oratory has hobnobbed with the head of the other Church - in September 2010, Pope Benedict XVI visited on his state visit to the UK for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who founded the church in the 19th Century.
The Pope emerged from a lift and was greeted by Pushkin, who received a special papal blessing.

Wells Cathedral in Somerset has a resident ginger cat, Louis, who can often be found sleeping against the radiators in the cathedral, or on a special chair in the Sugar Chantry.

And St Leonard's Church in Shoreditch is where Schrödinger, a former stray, either does or does not live.

Station cats

Huddersfield railway station cat Felix has frequently featured in the media, has had a book written about her and also has her own line of merchandise - but she's not the only station cat worth mentioning.

Snowy at Harringay, Hector at Redruth in Cornwall, Jess at Andover in Hampshire, Paul at South Parkway in Liverpool and Stan at Charlbury in Oxfordshire are just a few more of the pusses on platform patrol.

Not only do they keep rats and mice away, but passengers are keen to be greeted by their friendly fluffy faces - and some people travel specially to see them.

Over in Japan, a female cat called Tama was credited with vastly increasing the number of passengers going through Kishi station in Kinokawaby - contributing an estimated 1.1 billion yen (£5.7m) to the local economy.
When she died, she was elevated to the status of goddess.
It was an apt reward - but no more than many a cat believes it deserves.
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Re: Bureaucats: Whiskers in the Workplace

Post by Whiskers on Sun 04 Feb 2018, 12:21

While the cats away the mice will play. run

They say you are never more than 6 feet away from a rat.  Not sure if thats true but its comforting to have a cat around the place making sure they stay away!
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Wild rat population in London

Post by Stardust on Wed 21 Mar 2018, 09:58

Be grateful for even the smallest thing, blessings come in many disguises.
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Re: Bureaucats: Whiskers in the Workplace

Post by Whiskers on Wed 21 Mar 2018, 15:45

I can't bear to even open those links.  wary

    Current date/time is Mon 17 Dec 2018, 09:18