If you have been to Disneyland a number of times as I have, you have no doubt crossed the path of a feline or two. Cats at Disneyland? You bet! And they are not a part of the collection of animatronic figures located at the park. They are the real deal. So, how did they get there in the first place?
Back in the early days of the park, Disney was having issues with mice. They initially attempted to deal with the problem by leaving hot dogs laced with cyanide out for the rodents in hopes they would eat the hot dogs, travel down to the River of America to drink and fall in. The next morning, a boat would skim them off the top. If any were found floating during the day, they would be picked up by the canoes. This was somewhat effective for a while until a little boy ate one of the hot dogs and fell ill.
So Disneyland brought in about fifty cats and set them loose in the park. Cats are still there today, but typically hide during business hours. It is reported that many Disney cast members leave food out for the cats and have even given them names. And while they may not always fit with the theming of particular areas, they deal with the rodent population and so they have become permanent residents of the magic kingdom.
Regarding cats showing up in areas where they look out of place – I once saw a cat wandering about in Storyland – a land of miniatures. The cat looked like a giant next to all the miniature sized villages and scenery as you could imagine. I attempted to capture it on film but he/she darted away before I could aim and focus.
I did snap this one sitting across the Rivers of America on Tom Sawyer Island.
I wished I would have had a larger zoom so I could get a closer shot. But there he/she is, sitting and appearing to be watching the ducks swimming by (real as well).
While the cats have always been wild by nature, reports confirm that they are becoming more tame. One report by a guest states that the last time they were waiting to ride the Indiana Jones attraction, they spotted a cat sitting in the queue licking it’s paws. The people around were all reaching down for the cat and he/she didn’t even attempt to run away.
While they do a great job controlling the rodent population, they can sometimes cause problems as well. For example, they have even stopped the Big Thunder Rail Road on several occasions by tripping senors and confusing the computers. It is also reported that when Disney Imagineers began to build the walk through attraction in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, they found almost 100 cats living there.
Nuisance, helpful or even entertaining, cats have seemed to find a permanent home in the Magic Kingdom. If I were a cat, I couldn’t think of a better place to be!