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.

hitchhikingcat-1445451554976It 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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63 Comments So Far

    • 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.

    • Thank you for loving and caring for the ferals. I do animal rescue and have a special place in my heart for feral cats. The journey and dream of Walt Disney has inspired me to continue my dream and journey of ending this tragedy of animal abuse and neglect for the next generation. Thanks again.

    • Words are not enough to express the gratitude we feel to Disney for taking care of these sweet babies. It speaks well of you all that you care so much.. What a Wonderful thing. We look forward to the posts every day.. Thank You Disneyland ???

    • Saw a big grey one climbing up behind Pooh’s on Feb 24, 2016. Thank you for confirming it was not just a figment of my imaginanation!

    • “The cats actually live a pretty mundane life, similar to most other feral cats you might have in your neighborhood.” Oh I think they live a MUCH better life. They don’t have to deal with temperatures in the teens during the winter…abusive humans who use them for target practice…cars…coyotes…raccoons…and, of course, the constant malnourishment, disease and parasites (which Disney cats don’t have if they’re being taken care of as they say). I’m guessing the ferals around here would love to retire in Disney!

      • Melody Upham I love what you said here, I’m a Ferrell mom and my colony got taken by the owners of the parking garage next to where they lived because of the footprints on the cars. It was okay to have all the bird poop on their cars but they complained about the cats. They had someone come in and take them off and they would not tell us where it broke my heart that they took my babies that I’d taken care of for four years. I’m so happy to hear that their feral cats have such a good life and have to thank the Disney Corporation for that. I’ve been to Disney World 6 times and never once seen a cat but I’m sure they have them there too. You would not believe the cruel things that people have done to feral cats. One of my feral cats had been shot with an arrow when she showed up pregnant and by the time the babies were old enough to be taken from her they had to amputate her leg it was so infected. I belong to the snip program which is trap neuter and release. They cut the very tip of the left ear off so you can spot the ferals that have been fixed so you don’t keep catching the same ones over and over again I don’t know if they do that too. And one cat having cats within a year can have a population of 1000 easily. So I urge people to be responsible pet owners please have your pets spayed and neutered stop the destruction of The Unwanted cats and dogs being put down because there’s just too many of them. I would have never known about this unless the radio station KZPS 92.5 in Dallas,Texas hadn’t said something about how Disneyland uses cats to catch all the mice that is except for Mickey and Minnie LOL

    • I saw one of the cats late one afternoon. It was in the little miniature village part of It’s A Small World ride.

    • It was late and we were eating outside at the restaurant, which was closing up for the night, near Splash Mountain when 3 cats..looking very clean and well fed…came out of nowhere. They came up to us and were rubbing against our legs. Our kids were delighted! That is the first time I even knew about the cats of Disneyland and I have been going there all my life…

    • I moved to Orange in 1999 with my six beloved kitties. First vet visit (3 blocks from home) I was reading plaques and letters on the wall. Was thrilled that this wonderful vet was the one responsible for the vet care for all the Disney cats. I see at least a couple every time I go to the parks.

        • I seen them they’re to!! And over at cars resort Didn’t see any alligators and I wanted to see them !!

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

        • 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).

    • 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…

    • Been ages since I’ve been to Disneyland, but the next time I go, I’ll have to look for the kitties.

  1. 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.

  2. 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”.

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

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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..

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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…

  12. My Husband and I have seen cats when we were on the shuttle going into the park first thing in the morning and a couple of times in the evening. They were a happy looking bunch too.

  13. Am 63; been to DisneyLand many times. Remember the $20.00 book with all the colored tickets? Never knew about the cats, but, now I do, A documentary! Disney seems like a caring company. Pretty smart to go with nature and let the cats do what they were meant to do. 🙂

  14. We’re annual
    Passholders and it’s always fun to keep an eye out for the cats. There’s one in DCA by the river rafting that loves to come out and stare at the humans. Talking to a cast member one day he said the cat was starting to become his own attraction lol!

  15. I am glad to hear of this humane approach to the plight of the feral communities. I believe many cities could put these same tactics to use all over this country, benefiting both their cities and the problems of ferals all at once. It is a proven practice that works, on both sides. Hooray for Disney and all they are doing !

  16. My family and I saw the same cat twice in the same place on 2 different days this week! Monday, April 4, 2016 and Friday, April 8, 2016.

  17. I LOVE that the cats are welcomed and safe at the Happiest place on earth! I want to come back as a cat that lives at Disneyland! I think that is so awesome! Thanks Walt for another wonderful thing you have given back to all of us including our furry kitty friends. I know your watching over all of us from your apartment.

    We miss you.

    Can I call you Uncle Walt?

  18. I’m so glad to see that you take care of all these cats! I was there last month and thought I saw two cats going down Splash Mountain, it’s fantastic to know I wasn’t imagining things! It’s very nice of you all to let the cats on the rides, even if they don’t meet height requirements.

  19. Thank you very much for taking care of these feral cats. I didn’t know that Disney company cares about animals.

  20. I am an animal lover and activist . I manage a cat colony of 25 wonderful cats in my neighborhood . Each one has it’s own unique personality . Some were ferrel but most of them are strays that have been left behind by their previous family or dumped. I’ve had several kittens born that are very social & loving. I’ve worked every day for the past 3 years to socialize all the cats in my colony and even though some were ferrel st one time I’ve actually been able to socialize them and get them accustom yo human contact. Out of all the cats I take care of I only have 1 that will not allow me to touch him.. He’s a work in progress…lol.. I feed, I shelter, I give medical care and working on TNR. I give love and attention to these cats and in return they rid the neighborhood of unwanted pest and are devoted to several of us in the neighborhood that have taken the time to care for them and found resources to help them survive. I am beginning to rehome the ones that are ready. It’s sad to k ow that some people just leave their pets behind and dismiss their responsibility as a pet owner. Ferrell and stray cats are the product of irresponsible people. It is not the cats fault that it no longer has a home or was born ferrel . Its peoples fault. It is our responsibility to try to help these animals and put a stop to the irresponsible people that are ultimately the cause of homeless cats. People need and should be held responsible for their actions especially when it has negative effects. I commend Disney land and its employees for giving these animals a place to call home. I think the cats are very fortunate to have come across such good people . I guarantee that Disney lands cats are a main attraction. I will definitely plan to visit the park for our family vacation this year. The Disney land cats are a must see for me… we need more people & places to come forward and show the compassion that you have ! Thank You Disney land.

  21. What a wonderful program Disneyland has implemented with the cats. I have been doing animal rescue for twenty something years, now have my own feral cat sanctuary and still feed various colonies until they can be recaptured ( first time was for spaying and shots ) and relocated to the santuary. It is a wonderful sanctuary with heated accommodations for winter but even I would pick Disneyland first! Thank you to whoever started caring for the ferals and to the people who are continuing the tradition.

  22. Beautiful story so glad it worked ot the way it did for the cats, and for disney!! I also think getting them fixed is the best route, hands down, if it’s anything like how feral cats are attracted to mobile home communities, then BRAVO!! The best ever I could do for those cats was to feed them and try to find all the baby kittens homes before they would really become feral cats

  23. FYI

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