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Stubbs the Mayor at Facebook

9 Cats With Cushy Jobs

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Stubbs the Mayor at Facebook

Cats are useful wherever they are, and they don’t always live in private homes. Here are a few who serve as mousers, greeters, public relations agents, and stress relievers under various titles. None of them let the burdens of employment interfere with nap time.

1. Mr. Wu the New Orleans Bar Cat

Mr. Wu is the resident cat at Molly’s at the Market in New Orleans. He walked into the bar for shelter during hurricane Katrina in 2005 and never left. Mr. Wu spends a lot of time sleeping, but enjoys being petted by patrons. He also has his own MySpace page, although, like most MySpace pages, it is never updated. When Mr. Wu bellies up to the bar, he is served fresh cream in a go cup. Photograph by Skye via Mr. Cajun Boy.

2. Scuzzball and 3. Creeper the Record Store Cats

Scuzzball and Creeper are the cats at Bleecker Street Records in New York City. The siblings were left to the record store when their owner had to give them up due to the rigors of chemotherapy. Scuzzball has been described by customers as “huge.” Both cats prefer to sleep all day, and are friendliest when the store staff arrives in the morning. After that, they take it easy. Bleecker Street Records is no longer on Bleecker Street, but has moved to 188 West 4th St. between Jones and Barrow in the West Village. Photographs by Freddie Moore

4. Fred the Undercover Cat

Fred was a Brooklyn stray before he helped investigators bust a college student posing as a veterinarian in 2005. Robert Reid had suspicions about Steven Vassall when the fake vet treated his dog, so he contacted the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. Assistant DA Carol Moran took Fred from Animal Control and deputized him for an investigation. When Vassall agreed to neuter Fred for $135, he was promptly arrested. Fred became a media sensation for his part in the sting operation.

5. Tizer the Constable

In 2007, the British Transport Police adopted a cat named Tizer and made him an honorary constable. “Chief Mouser Pc Tizer” was stationed at King's Cross rail station and worked hard to ensure a mouse-free train experience for riders. In addition to saving the force money in extermination fees, he was also a stress-reducer for the staff. Tizer was already 13 years old when he was adopted and put to work. After two years of service, he retired to a private home, where he died in 2009.

6. Zaireeka the Record Store Cat

Zaireeka lived and worked at Permanent Records in Chicago for at least six years. She became a local celebrity among those who browsed the music selection. Zaireeka passed away last year shortly after moving to Permanent Records' Eagle Rock, California, location. Photograph by Flickr user Sharyn Morrow

7. Tama the Stationmaster

Tama, a Japanese calico cat, is credited with saving the Wakayama Electric Railway Company of Japan from financial ruin. Wakayama was losing money, and laid off employees. Tama, who was born to a stray at the Kinokawa station, remained at her post (not that she had anywhere else to go). In January of 2007, she was named Stationmaster and the resulting publicity boosted ridership tremendously, saving Wakayama from bankruptcy. She is now the fifth-highest ranking officer in the company. Tama even has her own uniform and office! Tama has been greeting fans for years. Photograph by Wikipedia Japan member Sanpei

8. Millie the Security Guard

In the summer of 2012, a Bengal cat named Millie was hanging around the Bandai warehouse in Southampton, England. Since she was there, and the warehouse was piling up with toys for Christmas, they went ahead and made her their security guard. Millie got a uniform just her size, and spent her time checking out the stacks of boxes and wandering the warehouse floor. No mice would get past this cat!

9. Stubbs the Mayor

Stubbs has been a fixture at Nagley’s General Store in Talkneetna, Alaska, since manager Lauri Stec adopted the tailless kitten fifteen years ago. But Stubbs is more than just a store clerk. The 800 or so citizens of Talkneetna elected him mayor of the town when he was still a kitten -and have reelected him ever since. Stubbs is popular because he doesn’t raise taxes, he never gets into trouble, and he lets everyone have their say. He is also a tourist draw. Photograph from Facebook

There are plenty more cats with interesting jobs and cute pictures, so look for the second installment of this list coming soon. See also our posts on Library Cats and Bookstore Cats

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Animals
Why Your Cat Can't Roar, But Jungle Cats Can
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Your kitty may have the swagger of a mighty jungle cat, but it’s hard to take the tough cat act seriously once it opens its mouth. Unlike their roaring relatives, domestic cats have a high-pitched, mewling cry. However, they do purr—a trait that isn’t shared with lions, tigers, leopards, or jaguars, the four species of cats with loud, growling vocalizations.

In the video below, SciShow’s Hank Green explains the science behind why your beloved ball of fur can’t roar—and how it’s linked to their ferocious cousins' lack of purring ability.

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats Love to Knead?
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If you're a cat lover, chances are your favorite feline has shown a penchant for kneading, and at some point has given you and/or a favorite piece of furniture a massage with his or her rhythmic paws. Colloquially called “making biscuits,” kneading is a common behavior among kittens and adult cats alike—but animal experts still aren't sure exactly why they do it.

Scientists have a few theories, some of which SciShow’s Hank Green outlined in this fascinating video. One theory is that your cat's kneading is an attempt to mark its territory—yes, even if that “territory” is you—with the scent glands in its paws. Another rationale is that kneading is a neotenic behavior, or a juvenile trait that sticks with cats into adulthood. Kittens knead their mother's belly to stimulate milk production—an act that’s nearly identical to that strange, Shiatsu-like practice it’s doing in your lap. (This could also explain why some adult cats also "suckle" the items they're kneading.)

Green does point out that domestic cats knead, whereas wild cats don’t, which raises the question: Why have only domestic felines retained this behavior? Green attributes this to the fact that house cats were selected over thousands of years for their friendlier, less aggressive traits, but says they've "probably also held on to some of their more social, baby-like behavior, just because it serves them well when they’re around people."

"I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but wildcats are not super social," Green jokes. "They don’t come up and cuddle, so much as try to eat your flesh. Felis silvestris, the ancestor of all domestic cats, is a solitary hunter that only socializes with members of its own species when it’s time to breed. So wildcats only developed social behaviors for two situations”—mating and caretaking behaviors between mother cats and their kittens.

“Unlike wild cats though, domesticated cats have a lot of social behaviors as adults, because they’re not wild loners anymore," Green adds. "They have us to cuddle with, con treats out of, and demand food from. So their innate tendencies for snuggling with mom and hitting on the lady cats are put to good use on us."

While occasionally painful or bothersome, kneading one’s owner is definitely a loving act on the part of the cat, a way of letting you know that it feels comfortable and safe with you. That said, don't sweat it if your cat isn’t big on the habit—or, conversely, worry that it kneads too much.

“Some cats are more needy and knead more than others,” Dr. Michael W. Fox, a veterinarian and author of the syndicated newspaper column "Animal Doctor,” advised one anxious reader who reported that her kitty had taken to kneading the family dog. “This behavior is exacerbated when a cat is weaned from its mother too soon. It’s an anxious cat’s way of seeking contact comfort.”

If you’re not a fan of kneading, it's futile to train your cat to cease a perfectly natural behavior. Instead, consider investing in a pair of nail clippers—and when you’ve finally had enough, gently push the cat away and enjoy the fleeting freedom of an empty lap.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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