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Disneyland is closed and right know we have no idea when it will be opening up again. One assumes that walking down Main Street U.S.A would be like wandering through a ghost town. There are probably a handful of essential employees around, but the parks are otherwise so empty they might be creepy. But if you were there, in the empty park, it would probably be much easier than usual to notice that there are other inhabitants of Disneyland. The park is full of cats.
You may have seen them if you've kept your eyes on the plant life throughout Disneyland as you've walked from one attraction to another. Felines hiding from the crowds. Nobody seems to know exactly how or when the cats moved in. It's possible they've been there since day one in 1955. But they've been there for years at the very least. And according to reports, Disneyland is happy to have them. Estimates range from 100-200 cats living between the two theme parks of the Disneyland Resort, and while they tend to stay hidden during the day, they roam the park freely at night. And likely do the same now that the park is empty.
The main reason that Disneyland keeps the cats around is that they keep down the rodent population of the park. One can certainly imagine that with the amount of open space in the two parks of Disneyland Resort, that can be a significant problem, and by keeping the cats around, they can keep things under control. Certainly, guests would rather see a feral cat in the bushes than a rat.
At the same time, the park needs to make sure the feline population stays under control. To that end, the park reportedly has a TNR program, which stands for "trap-neuter-return." The cats are picked up, fixed, and then returned to the park to do their thing. They're also given vaccinations against disease. This program was originally handled by an outside company but since 2007 Disney has been handling it internally. Kittens that are born inside the park are picked up and given homes. There are five feeding stations around the park for the felines, as well as shelters to give them a place to sleep.
Originally, Disneyland kept the feline program under wraps as it didn't want anybody to know it was happening. Generally, the park still doesn't publicly comment on it, though it's not kept as intentionally hidden as it once was.
It's sort of wonderful to know when you see one of the cats in the park, that they are being cared for in several ways. In the grand scheme of things, it's honestly much easier to take care of all these cats in simple ways than it would be to try and keep the park clear of them. And then Disneyland would have to find another way to make sure the rats didn't become a problem. Really, it's what we've come to expect from the happiest place on earth.
Since March Disneyland has been closed and you have to assume the cats have taken over the place. There's no longer any reason to hide out, even during the day. After more than four months of having a free run of the parks, how will the cats handle it when guests eventually do return?