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TNR at Work – Disneyland Finds Balance with Feral Cats

Mickey Mouse may have put Disneyland on the map 55 years ago, but today, a colony of feral cats helps keep the famous theme park rodent-free.

No one is quite sure when the cats moved in, but feral cats have made their home on Disneyland Resort’s grounds for at least a quarter century, and likely since the park opened in 1955. Rather than try to evict them, Disneyland staff have set an example as a corporate giant, embracing the cats as an integral part of the park’s everyday operations.

“We view them as partners. It’s kind of a symbiotic relationship with them,” explains Gina Mayberry, who oversees the Circle D Ranch where Disneyland’s animals are housed. The cats, whom she dubs “natural exterminators,” see to it that Disneyland’s rodent population is kept in check.

The cats are free to come and go as they please, but don’t expect to spot one on your next visit—Mayberry says guests rarely see them, as they hide during the daytime. According to a May article in the LA Times, an estimated 200 cats join Disneyland Resort’s overnight maintenance team after the crowds have gone home, prowling the parks’ manicured greenery in search of mice.

Feral cats have been welcome at Disneyland as long as 25-year veteran Mayberry can remember, but it was only seven years ago that animal care staff at the park took it upon themselves to do right by their feline employees and institute Trap-Neuter-Return. Aided by local organizations including FixNation, Disneyland developed a lasting protocol for the humane care of the resort’s cats.

“What we do is trap the cats, get them spayed or neutered and make sure they get a wellness check and release them back into the population,” says Mayberry. Although Disneyland doesn’t monitor the total number of cats, she says the program has been quite successful at adopting out kittens and “maintaining a balance” between cat population and the Disneyland environment.

After the cats are neutered and returned to the park grounds, they receive continuing managed care. They dine at five discreet feeding stations throughout the resort, which are strategically placed to minimize interaction with cast members and resort guests.

“We want to keep them feral so they don’t find the need to associate or interact with people,” says Mayberry.

It’s refreshing to see such a high-profile park treating all its visitors and inhabitants humanely—not just the human ones. Disneyland Resort’s TNR program proves that large, high-profile organizations and feral cat colonies can not only peacefully share the same property, but also strike up a mutually beneficial relationship that improves conditions for both parties. Or as Mayberry puts it, “I truly believe that they do benefit us as well we benefit them.”