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From a Cat’s Point of View

The Disneyland Cats have been around for as long as any of us can remember. Our ancestors lived in Sleeping Beauty Castle before we were unceremoniously evicted. Ever since then, we’ve prowled the streets and walkways of Disneyland (and more recently Disney California Adventure). When it comes right down to it, we run the place. Without us, rodents would run amuck and the entire population of Disneyland would be a lot less cute. We put up with the humans visiting our quarters, but only because they leave at night. There are magical food stations positioned for us all around the property, and we get to eat whenever we like. Nowhere is off limits to us. Disneyland is OUR land. And we try our best to forget it was “all started by a mouse.”

From a Human’s Point of View*

(* Note: Remember to take everything humans say with a grain of salt. They’re not the brightest.)

It’s impossible to pinpoint exactly when the first cats started to appear on Disneyland property, but there have been sightings going as far back as 1955. Soon after Disneyland opened, Walt decided that there should be an attraction inside of the park’s most prominent “weenie,” Sleeping Beauty Castle. When he brought imagineers into the castle to begin the planning process for what would eventually become the Castle Walkthrough attraction, he was greeted by quite the sight—scores of feral cats had set up a home for themselves inside the building. Not only that, but the cats had brought with them an infestation of fleas. It became clear that something needed to be done about the cats, but the Disney company knew they couldn’t exactly “eliminate” the problem without considerable uproar from guests. The immediate solution was to adopt out all the cats to cast members, ensure them good homes, and so free up some valuable real estate. They dealt with the flea problem as quickly as possible too.

Meanwhile, being an outdoor theme park with lands meant to simulate rustic situations, Disneyland had developed a bit of a rodent problem. While the irony was lost on no one in the company, Disneyland had mice running around—and we’re not talking about Mickey and Minnie. There were also still plenty of feral cats on property who hadn’t set up shop in the castle. The cats were smart and realized they’d found a decent hunting ground on a property that was free of all the typical dangers stray cats have to face. They were able to emerge at night to a relatively empty park, and they could hunt in peace.

It was around this time that someone in the Disney company must have had a pretty brilliant idea. The cats weren’t bothering anyone—feral cats, by nature, are scared of humans—and they were doing a much better job with pest control than any human exterminators were likely to do. So the cats were put to work. More accurately, they were allowed to continue doing the work they were already doing, but now it was with Disney’s blessing, and some payment.

A relationship between the company and the Disneyland Cats was established that still operates in basically the same fashion today. Feeding stations were set up around the property where the cats could get their fill when they couldn’t subsist on hunting alone. The cats were all captured and spayed/neutered before being released back out onto the grounds so that the cat population would remain under control. The cast members at Circle D Ranch (the same cast members who look after the Main Street trolley horses and the goats at Big Thunder Ranch, etc.) help manage the cats. They give them medical treatment if necessary, keep the food refilled, and generally look after Disney’s herd.

The cats actually live a pretty mundane life, similar to most other feral cats you might have in your neighborhood. Of course, they do so in the Happiest Place on Earth. They generally stay hidden out of sight during the day and only come out at night. There are exceptions, of course, and guests have been known to spot cats sleeping in the parks or otherwise slinking around property. As a general rule, Disney doesn’t encourage guests to get too close to the cats. In addition to the simple fact that it’s never smart to try to pet a cat you don’t know, these cats are often better off remaining solitary. If cats start to appear too comfortable around humans, Disney will adopt them out to cast members. The same is true of any new litters of kittens that are accidentally born on property.

It is estimated that the current cat population on Disneyland property is about 200. Some of the feeding station locations where guests are most likely to spot a cat include ones near the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Disneyland, Taste Pilot’s Grill at DCA and White Water Snacks at the Grand Californian. Cats can also often be spotted in the Rose Court Garden at the Disneyland Hotel and in the ditch that runs parallel to the path for the Mickey and Friends Tram.

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33 Responsesso far.

    • Connie Vermillion says:

      I saw one of the Disney cats one evening while waiting around for the fireworks. It was in the center where Walt and Mickey are. It was in one of the sectioned off lawn areas between the paths that go through this area. It was a very pretty cat, I have a picture of it and the angle of the picture the lighting on the lawn looks like he is wearing a hat. I was very excited to have spotted one of Disneyland Cats. I didn’t bother it or try and pet it. It ended up going into the bushes.

  1. David Hood says:

    Really interesting stuff!! Thanks for posting it.

  2. If the cats have been spayed or neutered how does the population continue?

  3. Love this blog! Keep up the great posts. :-)

  4. Janice Heck says:

    Never knew this. I’ll look for kitties at Disneyworld on my next trip. I imagine they gave them there, too.

    • No cats in Walt Disney World. The property is way too big, and the area has too many predators like alligators.

      • Al says:

        We have seen cats at Walt Disney world Pop Century resort, guests feed them regularly as of 2013

      • Melissa says:

        I actually saw a cat sleeping in the bushes while walking down the exit ramp for the monorail at the Ticket and Transportation Center.

        • Cat says:

          Florida has an enormous feral cat population. Even Disney World probably has a few, but not “officially” like the ones at Disneyland. (I’ve heard that Zoo Miami no longer keeps kangaroos because uncontrolled feral cats were causing problems for them).

      • Kelly says:

        Not true, unless they have been eliminated. I saw TONS outside Pecos Bill’s when I worked at WDW.

    • ran6110 says:

      If you use the parking garage and take the tram look carefully along the fence and you can generally see one or two sleeping in the sun…

  5. […] sure to keep an eye out for the famous Disneyland cats! Fun little furballs roam Disneyland’s grounds freely, and they often stop by Whitewater as […]

  6. Pam M. says:

    Obviously a stray cat that is pregnant or some that have been spayed or neutered roam in resulting in an occasional litter. I am sure that is resolved as the staff locates the kittens for adoption.

  7. Jo says:

    Even though the freeway dumps you directly into Dland, it is surrounded by the community that is Anaheim (my home town).

    Feral cats, whose grandparents were pets in the city, have strayed and moved into the hotel/motel area of the city and some lucky ones move into the Disney properties. I would like to think that my old kitties who ran away somehow had the kittens that ended up hunting down Mickey and Minnie.

    All heavily populated areas have large feral cat populations for vermin control. You only know of it in the middle of the night when they sing their songs of romance. ;-)

    Disney one-ups the process by assuring spaying/neutering of the adult population and adopting the kittens of those “who got away”.

  8. JP Carol says:

    I had no idea. Being a cat lover, this info serves to make Disneyland an even happier place for me

  9. […] Read more about it in this fun blog post. […]

  10. Cheryl says:

    Just came home from a visit to Disneyland. We noticed a beautiful cat near the river rafting ride in Disney California around dusk. Thanks for sharing the story behind the cats!

  11. Michelle S. says:

    We spent the day at Disneyland yesterday 9/28 for daughters 30th birthday. It was about 7:30P.M. We were taking one last ride around the park on the Disney Railroad and saw a gray and mostly white cat at the main street station just hanging out at the pretend station on the other side of the tracks. The cat sitting there just made the station look all the more real. With my daughter being a Veterinary Technician we commented that it must be a feral cat and how it looked like it ate well. Our daughter told us about the Disney cats and how they live there at the park. While she was telling us what she had heard about the cats the one we were watching started to hunt in and around the bushes by the pretend station. The cat was definitely on a hunting mission.

    I just wanted to say how wonderful I think it is how the Disney employees take care of all the cats. Bless their hearts! It truly is one of the best kept secrets of Disneyland.

  12. Tamar Moloney says:

    Love reading about the Disneyland cats! It was my pleasure to have seen a couple once around the Hungry Bear one time. They stayed pretty much to the far end of the patio where people ate. One kind of strolled around a bit but I think everyone around was pretty mindful of him/her. Keeps up the good work kitties!

  13. Jt says:

    I think the cat program is wonderful ! However, (should we be surprised) PETA thinks its horrible. Why ? because they are morons. PETA says it a way of socializing them,(getting them used to humans) then abandoning them. I really dont see it that way. They adopt out any cat that is becoming friendly with people, they feed them, give them medical attention, adopt out any kittens born, and provide them with a safer life as far as a feral animal is concerned. PETA just has to object to everything, and anything cause they are lonely losers who cant get laid..

  14. Judy says:

    Well, this is the first I heard of Disney’s cats! I’m 60 years old (almost) and moved to So Cal (No Hollywood) when I was 6 from northeastern Canada. The first thing my parents did (I guess in the first year after we were there) was to take us to Disneyland. That would have been in about 1962. So a few years after opening. And we made it there at least once a year all of our growing up years. I took my kids there yearly when they were growing up. This is the first I have ever heard about their cats. It’s wonderful. I am a cat person. ( although I agree with JT and his comments about PETA). Feral cats are a challenge for any community. I went wandering about the Net and found lots of pictures –Instagram– and a few stories about the cats and some other tales as well. This was fun.

  15. Jim says:

    I have seen two cats this week along the Mickey & Friends tram route – thanks for an informative story. I had heard about the cats before, so it was cool to actually see them.

  16. Nancy says:

    Last year, we had dinner at the Alfresco Tasting Terrace and saw one of the cats on the hill behind the restaurant. I had never heard about the cats and she was the first one I had ever seen in all of our trips. She looked very well fed and comfortable with all the attention she was getting from the diners!

  17. Nancy Robison says:

    so what is the problem now?? I just dont understand and it is also animal cruelty!

  18. Nancy Robison says:

    this is a big problem for the mucky mucks. it is against the law to withhold food from animals so they will starve to death…animal cruelty which is against the law in all states…

  19. Glenda Parrish says:

    Is the city of Annahiem interfeering w/ the feeding of feral cats?

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