Collin County Animal Services is hoping to win the war on rats by sending out feral cats – working cats looking for a job, hoping to escape euthanasia.
The shelter's "barn cat" program allows residents with sheds, barns or expansive property to adopt a feral cat for free to act as an all-natural pest control.
The cats are spayed or neutered and vaccinated so that they can focus on the job at hand, reducing the county's growing rodent population, stirred up by all of the new construction.
Collin County Public Works Director Jon Kleinheksel just adopted four feral cats for one of their barns – three males and a female named Annabelle – to keep rodents clear from expensive equipment.
"They literally eat some of the wiring harnesses out of the equipment and you're talking thousands of dollars to repair," Kleinheksel said.
According to animal control officer Lisa Drummonds, the shelter has had to euthanize 336 cats so far this year. Ninety percent of them were feral. In 2015, 391 cats were put down.
Drummonds hopes people take advantage of the program to keep down the spread of disease from unvaccinated cats and to keep down euthanization numbers.
"They can hunt mice, rats, small snakes, bugs," Drummonds said. "Feral cats do serve a purpose."
People who are interested just need to stop by the shelter at 4750 Community Avenue in McKinney. The barn cats come at no charge.