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What Are Distillery Cats?

The human and cat relationship started from a mutually beneficial arrangement in early farming communities wherein cats protected the crops of humans by catching rodents; in turn, humans provided cats with a full tummy and a cozy place to stay. 

Distilleries employ and care for cats to eliminate their pest problem as for more than thousands of years, cats remain recognized for their status as a rodent deterrent. 

The Feline Pest Control

The companionship of humans and cats originated from the fact that cats are highly skilled in catching pests. In the first farming communities numerous centuries ago, wild cats aided in the rodent concern of the people by catching rats and mice. The effectiveness of cats in mitigating the rodent concern brought by the continuous rise of agricultural practices made cats welcome among people. (Source: Fantastic Pest Control

As cats deterred and mitigated the rodent infestation in barns and crop fields, humans rewarded them with a cozy place to sleep and food. Rodents can spread more than 35 pathogenic diseases, making cats beneficial in protecting crops and eliminating chances of rodent-caused diseases.


Currently, not every cat can hunt rats and other pests, but most still have their hunting instincts intact. Disneyland, World War II vessels, and New York bodegas still use cats for rodent control. Paul Nickerson, Manager of The Tree House Cats at Work project, where vaccinated feral cats are used to handle the rodent population, states the effectiveness of cats as a rodent deterrent.

The other rats will get a whiff of the cats’ pheromones and bug out and leave the area.

Paul Nickerson

Since cats mark their territory by rubbing themselves against things, a rat will immediately avoid a specific area once it smells the scent of a cat. (Source: CNN)

The Famous Distillery Cats

The distillery cats are one of the most famous workforce felines. When mice and other animals become familiar visitors to the stockpile of grains & other food brewers and distillers have, cats fill the role of being rodent repellents.

Cats working in distilleries and breweries aren’t a new phenomenon; a book entitled Distillery Cats: Profiles in Courage of the World’s Most Spirited Mousers by Brad Thomas Parsons tackles the ever-evolving role of distillery cats from being a mousetrap to a promoter.

In a 2019 article written by Caroline Paulus for The Bourbon Review, Paulus names five social-media-famous cats that you can follow. The first cat is Rick Key at Castle & Key Distillery, who found his new home in the distillery, being into the family regardless of being FIV positive. The second cat is Maine Coon Sugar Maple at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, known for brutally handling pests.

Following Sugar Maple is Rye at Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co., an initially shy feline that now spends her time at the gift shop’s register. Junipurr and Rick at New Riff Distilling are the fourth cats, an inseparable cat duo skillful in catching pests. The last cat mentioned is Fatty at Hotel Tango Distillery, a 35-pound cat surrounded by rumors that an alligator bit her tail.  (Source: The Bourbon Review)

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