Some people call them lazy, meowing their way to get food from human. Love it or hate it, cats are known to be survivors no matter where they are. The lucky few get to enjoy the comfort of home, three expensive meals a day, people brushing their fur, taking up space on their owners’ beds and other quirks owners too shy to admit.
For those on the streets, survival is key. Among them are these amazing stars who work their paws off for an honest living, where some even provide financial boost to their ‘hoomans’.
Tama — Stationmaster
Japan’s Kishi Station was on the brink of shutdown until they hired female calico cat Tama as stationmaster in 2007. With kawaii (cute) culture being a big thing in the country, it didn’t take long for the station to turn into a massive tourist draw as passengers were eager to be greeted by Tama dressed in conductor uniform.
Tama became so popular that it was reported she contributed about JPY1.1 billion (MYR41 million) to the local economy. The station was even rebuilt with cat theme.
Tama died because of heart failure in June 2015. She was 16 years old. The station gave Tama a lavish Shinto-style funeral where she was elevated to the status of a goddess.
Larry — Chief Mouser
In the UK, cats have been employed at the corridors of power to neutralise mice since the reign of Henry VIII in the 1500s. According to a British daily, the government today recruits over 100,000 cats for the same task.
Among those who stood out is Larry, who has been working at the prime minister’s residence, 10 Downing Street, serving David Cameron and Theresa May since 2011.
Other than free food, Larry enjoys the perk of meeting leaders like former US president Barack Obama and celebrities as well.
Lemon — Cat in blue
Everything started when Kyoto police officers at Yoro Station took in two-week-old Lemon who was looking for shelter from the cold streets.
As time passed, the station became his home and the force took Lemon as their own, making him Japan’s first police feline complete with uniform. Besides manning the station, Lemon goes on calls with fellow officers to ensure the city remains crime-free.
Ketzel — Award-winning music composer
In 1996, Ketzel jumped on the piano of her owner Prof Morris Moshe Cotel, a pianist and chairman of the composition department at Peabody Conservatory in the US.
Amazed at how ‘this piece had a beginning, a middle, and an end’, Cotel transcribed the tune and called it Piece for Piano, Four Paws.
Cotel submitted the piece to Paris New Music Review’s One-Minute Competition without telling the judges that a cat composed the song.
Like one surprise isn’t enough, the piece was awarded a special mention!
Kuzya — Assistant librarian
Despite his lack of work experience, a cat who walked into a Russian library and never left landed a job as assistant librarian at the Novorossiysk Library, a two-hour flight away from Moscow.
Kuzya was given a passport and employment letter by a special order of the library’s director. Walking around the library in his bow tie, at least he’s the perfect example to remind guests to remain quiet as a cat, hah!
Langley’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hired a cat as part of their experimental espionage programme in the 60s.
Codenamed Acoustic Kitty, the USD20 million experiment ran for five years where a microphone was implanted into the ear canal and transmitter at the bottom of the skull of a nameless grey and white female cat.
The programme hit a dead end as the feline agent didn’t make even make it to the first mission.
The assignment to eavesdrop on Soviet diplomats at a park in Washington DC came to an abrupt end when the agent was struck by a taxi.
Experimenting the theory that cats can find their way home even if they are sent to neighbouring towns, the Belgian Society for the Elevation of the Domestic Cat in Liège trained 37 mail cats in the 1870s to deliver letters placed in water-proof bags around their necks.
Although there was no big issue with the service, the cats simply took too much time to deliver the task.