Them Damned Cats

January 13, 2016

First rule of successful blogging, write about what you know. Write about what is happening to you, right now. Write about sadg;iunwe

“Damnit, Tinker!”

As I sit here in the workshop where we make our rope (which we have nicknamed “The Abbey”) one of our shop cats decided that I looked like a good thing to climb and landed on my keyboard. So I guess that means I should write about the cats.

The Abbey is where we make all the products we sell. Located inside an old foundry, to call our space “industrial” would be a compliment. As the story goes, the building once supplied steel to the shipyards during WW2. Those days are long past, and the building sat empty for years before a group of artisans reclaimed it from industrial decay and turned it into a collective of blacksmiths, glass blowers, and yes, a bondage rope factory.

Old buildings, especially those near the waterfront, come with their own unique set of problems. One of those would be, of course, rats. Big ugly ones who like to prowl the wharf at night and intimidate smaller animals into giving them their lunch money. Okay that last part might be a reach, but let me assure you when one bolts out from under a pallet, I have been known to shriek like a startled ten-year-old girl. One night (I kid you not) we were here late and spotted something big and ugly casually walking down the hall outside a neighbor’s shop. When we looked closer we were startled by a very angry possum. He hissed at us and slipped under the door of a nearby shop.

Never seen since.

Rats love to nest in fiber, hemp is a fiber... You can see where this is going.

We were at a loss. Traps? They might be sufficient for your run-of-the-mill, garden-variety house mice you find in your attic. Nope, these rats were street smart. Battle hardened beasts that regularly disarmed the most expensive traps. We considered poison, but aside from the obvious environmental issues, nothing smells worse than discovering that you have a dead rat in your walls during the hottest stretch of summer.

Nope, it was time to go old school.

I grew up on a farm and we controlled rats the same way folks had been doing so on farms for generations. Cats. Now, I couldn’t just abduct my housecat and toss him into the shop for a long weekend and hope for the best. No, if we were to rid ourselves of this problem we needed hunters who had grown up on the same mean streets. Bruisers. Tanks, if you will. No mere domestic cat would do the job. We needed hunters in residence. An elite force to live in the shop with us and be that thin, furry line of protection.

Adopting a “shop cat” is actually more difficult than you might think. The fine folks at Seattle Animal Control do not consider feral or “non-domesticated” cats to be viable companion animals and would rather have them put down. The Seattle Alley Cat Rescue Project, however, is a dedicated group of volunteers who work to find homes for these “unadoptable” cats. Tagging them, spaying/neutering them, and hopefully finding places like ours that are not looking for someone to curl up on your lap on a cold winter night, Cats that will earn their keep and be cared for while having a safe, dry place to call home.

Enter Tinker and Soldier.

“Now, don’t get your hopes up too high”, they told us. “These boys were part of a colony recovered from the home of a hoarder. They’re sociable enough, but don't expect them to bond with you.” Obviously somebody at the rescue organization was a fan of the Le Carre novel “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”.

At first they were timid, shy and terrified of the rumbling trains that pass by our windows at all hours. After years of malnourishment they were skinny and undersized. Their nervous little paws would sneak food under the couch in my office where they lived those first few months. Slowly, they grew accustomed to the people and sounds of their new home. A steady diet and the patient attention of everyone in the building meant that as they grew in size their confidence and curiosity grew as well. Now they are part of the living fiber that binds those who work here together. They greet us at the door each morning. Each has their own unique personality, favorite people and, of course, cat quirks. Follow our social media feeds and you will be assaulted by the cuteness that is our boys, our “Knights Templar” as we call them.

Oh, what about the rats, you ask?

About once a year they like to bring me a kill, to remind me that yes, they are in fact badass hunters, but besides that? Nary a whisker. Of course, every time I hear a neighbor gripe about spotting a rat in their shop I remind them, “I do believe that Tailor and Spy are still looking for a good home.

To find out more about Seattle's Alley Cat Project, visit them online at or follow them at


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