“Ask Uncle Walt” is a regular feature of Uncle Walt’s Insider: you ask, Uncle Walt answers!
“Hey Walt, what’s up with these feral cats?”
Submitted by Waldo E., Fort Wayne, IN.
Thanks for asking. The feral cat question is probably the second most asked question at Guest Relations! (Questions about churro cart locations are by far the top question asked, leading almost 7 to 1.)
The feral cat can be easily explained, but first I need to give you a history lesson. You see, the common household cat, including the domestic, import, feral, and craft variety, is believed to have originated in Egypt during the First Dynasty. What people do not realize, and it is really only a story that Disney can tell, is that cats are actually indigenous to central Florida, and were found there first!
Florida, not Egypt
During the construction of the Walt Disney World Resort and Spa, workers found a cat graveyard. (Much like elephants, cats are known to congregate at a central location when they know they are on their last life.) Experts who excavated the graveyard and examined the remains dated the bones back to 2nd century BC. It was this discovery that led the Imagineers to place the Haunted Mansion’s pet graveyard over this exact location! I bet they never tell you that bit of history on the tour!
So while most historians think that cats were busy protecting Pharaohs, they were in fact keeping the rodent and alligator population from exploding all over central Florida. These cats were very territorial, and would not venture past modern day Osceola and Orange counties in Florida.
Experts are baffled by this behavior, and they are still even more baffled by the number of lost pets that end up in these counties! I don’t have time or ink to share links to all of the news stories about people who have found their lost cats at the Walt Disney World Resort and Spa, but you can use your favorite search engine to read about it yourself.
Power in numbers
Upon discovering this information, the Walt Disney Company decided they needed to steward these animals well by taking care of them, and allowing the animals to work. Did you know that each cat on the Walt Disney World property not only draws a salary, but also a pension? Disney signed a contract with the cats in the early 80’s that ensured the cats would never unionize. This was great news to Disney, especially since the number of feral cats beat the number of cast members by 2 to 1!
So there you go, a bit of a history lesson about the common household cat, with a bit of Disney insider knowledge added as a bonus.
Have you ever been part of a cat union? Let us know in the comments below!