Saturday, July 24, 2010

When The Cat's Away…

A sight lacking from Warsaw is one of rats.  While they can be seen easily enough in pet stores, I've yet to see a nasty little rodent skittering around on the streets.  Even in their usual haunts—dark alleyways, trash bins, the subway—they are absent.
In New York City, the case is just about the opposite.  New York is infested with vermin.  Huge, brass-balled rats, hailing taxicabs, are a ubiquitous sight on Manhattan.  Descend into the Hades that is the subway, and look at the tracks (this goes for Boston as well.)  You'll see a horde of hungry rats and mice squeaking and squealing over any scrap of food they can find.  When I stayed with my brother and my cousin in their apartments in Roxbury, they had to lock up food like ramen for fear of the mice.  Mice actually went into my backpack and gnawed on several of my E. Wedel chocolate bars (which I was saving for my grandma.)  How horrible is that?
Well, Warsaw doesn't really have this problem.  Oh, I am sure that someplace there is an apartment building with a mice problem, or a nest of rats infesting some poor sucker's house, but for the most part, Warsaw is clear.  How is this miracle?  Cats.  Lots of cats.
Poles love their dogs and their cats.  Moscow may be the city of stray dogs (these dogs famously take the subway into the center to find food during the day, then take it out to the 'burbs in the evening) but Warsaw is the city of cats.  Stray cats are everywhere and are generally cared for by the population.  One babcia I knew set up a small kiddy tent and provided the herd of cats (about fifteen) with food and water every day.  Her care enabled the cats to breed and produce more and more kittens, which in turn needed more care.  BUT, they wasn't a mouse or rat or other nasty little rodent in sight.  The Warsaw Metro?  Clear as clear can be.  Many business parks and apartment complexes have a few cats hanging around that are generally fed and taken care of by the occupants.  It's not uncommon to see as few kitties tousling about near a stack of office buildings or sitting and watching beneath a bush or shrub.

My (deceased, may blessings of peace and love be upon her) cat here showing the true power of the feline by downing a rabbit.  (Maine Coon cats are not to be trifled with.)

I can attest to the power of having a cat to free yourself of all other little invaders.  My own cat, Patches (who recently passed away after seventeen years), kept our property clear of squirrels and chipmunks (as well as songbirds.)  We used to walk about in the yard and find furry tails of squirrels (that would be all that was left of them: a tail attached to nothing.)  Her passing has enabled the songbirds to return, and hence our house is now dotted with nests.
For all of you that suffer from finding greasy paw prints on your stove in the morning, or wake up to see that some little bastard has nibbled at your bread: get a kitty.  It's what Warsaw has decided to do, and so far it's worked for them.

A cat in Szczecin stands guard and keeps the castle clear.

A kitty sleeps in Lazienki (look at his little tail flopping down between the boards of the bench!)


Steve said...

I think I have read that rat catching services are freely available from the local authorities in Poland. I was certainly surprised at the local fire brigade reports that one of their main summertime jobs is getting rid of bee and wasp nests. Rat free Warsaw may also result from the stronger social-service ethic in Poland.

PolishMeKnob said...

Well, in the US, firemen are often portrayed as rescuing kittens out of trees.