Throughout history, people have gotten bright ideas for using cats to make life easier. Some ideas sort of made sense but the originators of these uses forgot that cats tend to be quite independent. Most cats are not trainable, nor do they listen to instructions very well.
Sometime during the 1870's, the town of Liege, Belgium decided to hire cats to deliver the mail. The post office hired 37 cats to deliver the mail. From what I can tell, the idea was the cats hired would take the mail directly to their owners home for a small fee - a saucer of milk.
Postal employees placed the mail in waterproof bags which were then fastened around the neck of the cat. Once released, the cat was supposed to immediately go home but most cats wandered around the city. The fastest delivery took five hours while most took all day. This service didn't last very long.
On the other hand, the United Kingdom hired cats beginning in 1868 but not to deliver it. Cats were hired to keep the Post Offices clear of mice. Every cat was paid one shilling per week for food, etc and some even received a small pension. This continued well into the 1950's. Even the United States had cats who kept post offices clear of mice. Unfortunately, the feline population got out of hand and was banished from all buildings.
Although it is the 21st century, cats are still being hired to perform certain duties, some you know and some you don't.
1. A Bengal guard cat hired by the Bandai toy factory to hunt and kill mice in their warehouse. The cat is classified as security guard and as part of the employment package receives proper care.
2. There is a cat who is recognized as a prize winning composer. One day the cat jumped on a piano keyboard. Its owner heard the music and wrote it down as the cat created it. The owner submitted it to a Parisian contest and it won a prize.
3. A cat in Russia has been hired to find illegal sturgeon smugglers by sniffing them out. Unfortunately the cat was run over by a hitman because he was interrupting the illegal trade by finding shipments.
4. One of the libraries in Russia promoted a cat to the position of assistant librarian. The cat is regularly paid 30 servings of cat food per month.
5. In 1963, the French tested 14 alley cats to become astronauts but 10 had to be discharged from the program for over eating. One of the remaining four traveled 97 miles into space and survived a space shot.
6. In addition, the CIA tried using cats to spy on the Russians during the 1960's. They spent $20 million and 5 years to develop the first cat spy. When they tested the cat, it ran away into traffic and was killed by a car. The CIA dropped the program.
7. For 16 years, a cat has been elected Mayor of a town in Alaska. He loves his catnip but his time as mayor has been fraught with personal danger.
8. In Japan, one of the rail stations hired a cat as station master which resulted in an increased ridership of 10 percent or around 2.1 million additional riders. Due to this contribution, the cat was moved up the ladder to become an Operating Officer with two assistants.
Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.