Got a problem with mice? Hire a cat. That’s what London's Post Office did in September 1868, when rodents began to overrun its Money Order Office. Three cats were officially hired that year to search and destroy by the Secretary of the Post Office, who decided to see if a feline force could reduce the mouse population. But they didn’t work for free. They were hired at a rate of one shilling per week. By 1869, it was noted that the post office cats “have done their duty very efficiently,” and their wages were increased to one shilling and six pence. Of course, these civil servants also earned Royal Mail pensions. Over the next century, a series of hardworking, well-compensated cats would continue to prowl around British post offices.
Their appointed rounds:
- The most famous post office cat had to be Tibs the Great, a 23-pound (10.4-kg) enforcer who kept the Royal Mail’s headquarters mouse-free for 14 years. Tibs died in 1964, fat and happy.
- The last crime-fighting kitty at the London headquarters was Blackie, who died in 1984. His death coincided with the postal service’s switch from cloth sacks for mail to rodent-resistant plastic sacks.
- In 2016, an exhibit at the Postal Museum in London paid tribute to these indispensable feline employees with a reverential historical display.