Think canines are the only four-legged creatures that can hold down jobs? Think again.
1. Millie: guard cat
When workers at Bandai’s toy warehouse in Britain found a lonely Bengal cat roaming the grounds, they decided to hire her. Now an official security guard, Millie (top) has a pet care clause woven into her crime-stopping contract.
2. Ketzel: music composer
Move over, Keyboard cat: In 1997, Ketzel the feline became an award-winning music composer. Ketzel’s owner, Morris Moshe Cotel, was a pianist and professor at Peabody, and he transcribed the tune after Ketzel jumped onto the piano keys one morning. “This piece has a beginning, a middle, and an end,” Cotel said, amazed. “How can this be? It’s written by a cat.” Cotel submitted the piece to a Parisian music competition, where it won a prize. (The judges didn’t know a cat wrote it.)
3. Rusik: crime-buster
Each year, Russia loses about $800 million from illegal sturgeon fishing. So in 2003, police in Stavropol hired a cat named Rusik to sniff out sturgeon smugglers. He successfully busted a handful of mafiosos. But that July, Rusik died in the line of duty after being run over by a mafia car he had sniffed out. It was a fishy ending—police believe the driver was a hitman.
4. Kuzya: assistant librarian
It’s tough landing a job as a librarian. Now it might be impossible. After all, who can outdo a cat in a job interview? Earlier this year, Kuzya was promoted to assistant librarian at the library in Novorossiysk, Russia, where she earns a salary of 30 packs of cat food per month.
5. Belgium’s mail cats
In the 1870s, the Belgian village of Liège trained 37 mail cats to deliver letters. Conceived by the esteemed Belgian Society for the Elevation of the Domestic Cat, the plan was to wrap waterproof mailbags around each feline’s neck. The New York Times reported that, “Unless the criminal class of dogs undertakes to waylay and rob the mail cats, the messages will be delivered rapidly and safely.” To the joy of jobless mailmen everywhere, the plan failed.
6. Mr. Bigglesworth: actor
“Mr. Bigglesworth” is a great name for a cat. Not only is the purebred hairless sphinx from Austin Powers an actor, but it has a smashing name in real life, too: “SGC Belfry Ted Nude-Gent.”
7. Félicette: astrocat
The first cat to go where no cat has gone before, Félicette was blasted 97 miles into space on October 18, 1963, by a French Veronique AG1 rocket. She survived! Prior to the big launch, the French government collected 14 alley cats and tested their mettle for spaceflight, subjecting them to compression chambers and centrifuges. Ten of the cat astronauts were discharged for over-eating.
8. Oscar: grim reaper
If you ever see Oscar and he curls up in your lap, you might have a reason to worry. You’ve probably got only two hours left to live. Adopted by a nursing home in Rhode Island, Oscar has accurately predicted the demise of dozens of patients. He’s so good at predicting when you’ll kick the bucket, the nursing staff will call a patient’s family when he pays their loved one a visit. Some scientists believe that Oscar may be attracted to the smell of biochemicals released by dying cells, called ketones.
9. CIA Spy Cat
With all this talk about the NSA snooping around, you might want to think twice if your tabby is looking over your shoulder. In the 1960s, the CIA tried spying on the Soviets with cats. To eavesdrop, the CIA implanted a microphone into the cat’s ear canal and hid a transmitter at the bottom of its skull. After burning through $20 million over five years, the prototype cat—a nameless gray and white female—was ready. The CIA parked a reconnaissance van on a D.C. street. The cat hopped out, dashed across the road, and was promptly hit by a taxicab.
10. Stubbs: mayor
Stubbs has been mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska for 16 years. His time in office has been mired by multiple assassination attempts. A group of teenagers once shot him in the rump with a BB gun, and this August he was mauled by a neighborhood dog (obviously a political foe). He’s still living the high life, though. Stubbs drinks water out of a wineglass coated with catnip every day, and he continues to inspire felines to run for office. In 2012, a 9-year-old Maine Coon named Hank ran for Senate in Virginia under the independent ticket. He got 7000 votes.
11. Larry: former chief mouser to the cabinet office
The British government employs over 100,000 cats to keep mice away, reports the Guardian. But Larry is king. He lives at 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister David Cameron, which may explain why he’s given in to a couple scandals. In 2011, Larry was seen slipping out of the house to spend time with a neighboring lady cat. He’s also been criticized for sleeping on the job. After making only one confirmed kill, Larry was sacked for poor job performance. Thankfully, unlike every Chief Mouser before him, Larry’s upkeep was not paid for by taxpayers.
12. Tama: stationmaster and economy-booster
When Tama became stationmaster at the Wakayama electric rail station in Japan, ridership suddenly increased 10 percent—a boost of 2.1 million passengers per year. The local economy reported an overall boom of 1.1 billion yen (that’s $11 million!). To recognize the calico cat’s achievement, the railway promoted Tama to Operating Officer, making her the first cat to become an official railroad executive. She now has two assistants (who are also cats).