Most visitors to Disneyland come expecting to see at least two mice: Mickey and Minnie, that is! Many visitors are shocked to find that even though thousands of people stream through Disneyland each day, dropping food and crumbs everywhere, the park remains largely pest-free. Although the park’s maintenance crew of 600 is hard at work every night, they have some unorthodox helpers. A small army of feral cats has kept Disneyland mouse-free since the opening of the park in 1955. Never heard of them? You’re not the only one!
In 1955, Walt Disney and his team of ‘imagineers’ decided they should renovate Sleeping Beauty Castle, with an attraction inside the castle towers. When they opened the door of the long-empty castle to start construction, they were shocked to see that it was overrun with feral cats, who had decided on the beautiful castle as their sleeping place of choice.
Although the cats were fluffy, adorable, and not really harming anyone inside the castle, they were also infested with fleas. Not willing to put down hundreds of cats for the sake of a few fleas, Disney organized immediate veterinary attention for all of the cats to get rid of the flea infestation, then adopted them out to workers and cast members. All the cats who were living in the Sleeping Beauty Castle found loving new homes, but before long, park workers realized there were still quite a few cats wandering the streets of Disneyland who weren’t a part of the first adoption campaign.