App Pairs Shelter Cats With Homes in Need of Pest Control

Cats are excellent hunters, but sometimes having a cat in the house is all you need to deter rodents. Henry Bush [CC by 2.0]/Flickr

Got mice? If you live in London, there’s an app for that.

Handy, an on-demand cleaning and handyman service, has teamed up with animal charity Wood Green to offer shelter cats as a pest-control service.

The initiative pairs rescue cats in need of foster homes with London residents who want a poison-free way to deter rodents.

“We are delighted to make some of our cats available for app-powered fostering,” Juliette Jones, head of cat welfare for Wood Green, told The Mirror. “We have over 200 cats in need of good homes, some of which will benefit from being cared for temporarily in a home environment until they find their forever homes.”

Research shows the scent of a cat alone is enough to send mice scurrying, and fostering a cat for even a few days can leave a lingering feline scent — that’s undetectable to the human nose — in your home.

Cats have scent glands on various parts of their bodies, including their tails, the sides of their heads and their chins, which are all body parts that felines rub on tables, couches, people and other items they mark as their own.

“When a cat rubs his or herself against your leg, unfortunately he is not showing affection. Instead, he or she is marking their territory and sending a message to other animals,” Jones said.

The scent of used cat litter can also serve as a rodent deterrent because mice can detect certain feline urinary proteins.

The idea for the short-term cat service came about as a direct result of so many Handy customers requesting that cleaners bring felines along to help scare mice away.

When people request a cat through the app, they’ll also receive a litter box, food and bedding. While the service is free, people are encouraged to make a donation to Wood Green.

Those who foster a cat can do so for anywhere from a few days to a month, but although the service is intended to be short-term, Jones hopes that people will choose to make their mouser a permanent addition to their home.

"We hope that this unique service will open people’s minds to the positive impact — both practical and emotional — of having a loveable feline in residence,” she said.