Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Cats of Disneyland & Knott's Berry Farm

Today is International Cat Day.  International Cat Day is a celebration which takes place every year, on August 8th.  It was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.  (National Cat Day is celebrated every year on October 29th.)

Speaking of international, I took this cat's pic near Disneyland's It's A Small World attraction, back in 2009. Awww...sorry for the bright camera flash, kitty!

And I took this pic near California Adventure's Grizzly River Rapids, in 2015. This cat's name is officially (or I guess, unofficially), "Francisco."  Francisco is a very friendly cat and will sometimes come right up to guests, to be petted.

Knott's Berry Farm has it's own feline population.  These first two pics were taken just outside of the Western Trails Museum, in Ghost Town.

And this shy kitty cat was hiding in the bushes, near Ghost Town's Boot Hill Cemetery.

Even Japanese amusement parks have their own feline residents. I took this pic at Tokyo Dome City, in 2009.

Several years ago, there was an article in The Los Angeles Times, about Disneyland's feline population, and "Francisco" was actually named in the article. Knott's Berry Farm's cats got a brief mention, as well.

I have my own personal cat story, from when I used to work at Knott's Berry Farm.  Back then, the cats were rarely visible to guests or employees, during the day.  After the park closed, we would sometimes get a glimpse of one running out from under one building, over to another.  There weren't any feeding stations for the cats, and we were told that management only let them hang around, because they helped keep the rat population down.

One night, in December of 1988....the day after Christmas to be exact, it was late and the park was going to be closing in about an hour.  Suddenly, a black cat walked out into the middle of Ghost Town, and started crying out.  She came right up to a couple friends/coworkers of mine and even let them pick her up.  She was super skinny, to the point where you could see the outline of her rib cage.  We really believed that she was "crying out for help."

It was very cold and the temperature was supposed to drop below freezing that night, so my friends were going to secretly lock her inside of "The Original Berry Stand" overnight, and leave her with some chicken strips.  One of them was working early the next morning, so they would have been able to let her out without anyone else knowing she had been in there.

Well, it just so happened that our family cat had passed away, two months earlier.  She was 20 years old, and had been a part of the family since I was 4 years old.  At that time, we had made the decision not to run out and adopt another cat right away.  This cat, presenting herself the way that she did, sort of made me feel like it was happening for a reason.  So, I took her home with me.

I did wonder if security would stop me as I tried to leave the park with her, and say something like, "Hey, you can't take that cat......that's Knott's property!"  I really would not have been surprised if they did.  So, I put the cat inside of my employee jacket (while I was wearing it!), snapped it up to the top snap, and attempted to smuggle her out.

Surprisingly, she was completely comfortable (and probably warm) inside my jacket and she didn't even scratch me, or attempt to escape.  However, she did not like being completely hidden inside there, so she stuck her head out the top and kept craning it around so she could see where we were going.  I could not get her to duck down, even at that moment when we were walking past security.  I never made eye contact with the security guard, so I don't know if he saw her or not, but we made it to the car, and she made the journey home with me, where she proceeded to live out a nice, long, pampered life.

Here is a photo of her, taken not too long after she had been brought home and "fattened up" a bit.

And here's a pic of her about a year later, taking possession of a piece of notebook paper that had dropped onto the floor.

I hope everyone enjoyed my (long) cat story!  I'll end here, with a couple pics from when "Grumpy Cat" (R.I.P.!) visited Disneyland, back in 2013.

A very happy International Cat Day, to all the cat lovers out there!


"Lou and Sue" said...

TokyoMagic! I absolutely love your rescue story! That black cat was wise to make herself known to you and your friends. She hit the jackpot when you adopted her. Thanks for sharing that heartwarming story.

I've rescued a few strays over the years and found they make the best pets because they appreciate a good home, especially after sadly struggling on the streets.

I'm currently now trying to [humanely] trap (TNR) a couple strays in our neighborhood, to get them fixed and get them new homes. Our winters are brutal on the strays; they live, but they suffer.

The first feral cat I saw in Disneyland was in Tomorrowland, near the entrance to Star Tours, maybe 20 years ago. It startled me, as I never realized there were cats living in Disneyland. Since then, I've seen more inside the Park and in the parking lots. So sad, but I'm glad there are folks trying to take care of them (and fix them so they stop multiplying).

The pictures of your kitty, and Grumpy cat, really make me smile.
I know a lot of other folks will enjoy this post - especially DrGoat, as he also loves and rescues cats. He has a huge heart, too!


What a great story! It seems like the cats at Disneyland have been visible from around DCA’s construction. I don’t remember really seeing any before that. I always wondered in the duck traps that used to be around the Rivers of America ever accidentally caught cats?

I’ve heard that many of the Disneyland cars are not strays at all but live in surrounding neighborhoods and travel over for adventure.

What did you name your KNOTT’s kitty??

Melissa said...

I’ve never been lucky enough to spot a Disneyland cat. But I’ve done a lot of TNR and other work with feral cat colonies, and the story of your beautiful black kitty makes me so happy (my current cat is a black ex-feral). There are few things sweeter than a wild cat who decides to become a housecat. Sometimes the right cat just magically appears at the right moment, and sometimes they just show up at your house and start being your cat without even consulting you.

Today’s pictures are a lovely collection of magnificent beasts.

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, all of the cats that I have ever had in my life, have been "adopted" strays. They have also all lived very long lives. My last cat lived to be 22. I have three cats right now (a mother and her two daughters), who were strays that "chose" me. When they first showed up, my last cat was still living, so they were just going to be my "outdoor cats." I didn't want to stress out my 22 year-old by bringing them inside. I took them all to the vet to get their shots, flea treatments, de-worming treatment, etc. But then my 22 year-old passed away a few months later, so they were all moved inside the house. We have coyotes in my neighborhood now, so sadly, I don't see very many cats around least, not for very long. My neighbors all have their "horror" stories of the coyotes getting their cats. For that reason, my cats are "indoors-only."

I think it's wonderful that you are trying to help the stray cats in your neighborhood find homes!

TokyoMagic! said...

Mike, I was wondering if Disneyland has always had cats. Of course, there is that story about the cats living in the Castle, before it was opened up to guests as a walk-thru attraction. But I don't recall ever seeing cats inside the park, until within maybe the last 20 years or so, like you mentioned.

I didn't know that there were duck traps along the Rivers of America. What does Disney do with the ducks after they trap them. Do I want to know? I hope they just treat them for any potential diseases and then release them back into the park.

I did sort of wonder if our "Knott's kitty" had had a home at one time and then was maybe "dumped" at the park. Usually, the feral cats in the park would never let us get anywhere near them, so that's why I thought maybe this one was not feral. But who knows? Oh, and my mom named her, "Lady."

TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa, as I mentioned in response to Sue's comment, every cat I have ever had has been a stray. And with the exception of this Knott's cat, who first came up to friends of mine, all the other cats I have had, have "found" and "chosen" me. I agree that that makes the situation more special, in a way.

I think it's wonderful that you have also worked with and helped feral cat colonies. I would love to own and run a large cat rescue operation. It's one of those things where I've thought, "If I ever won the lottery......."


It was sometime in the early 1990’s the story of the Disney duck traps got out. I honestly cannot recall if the traps were to clear the duck population because of Fantasmic ..... or if the traps predated Fantasmic and were also to control the duck population. I understand that when the duck entered the trap it was killed with a spring mechanism. They stopped using those killer traps after the details got out. They may still use traps today but I’m sure they relocate the animals now.

DrGoat said...

Don't know what our lives would have been like without our cats. We have had the good fortune to have had them in our family since I was a very young. Particularly fond of black kitties so your story makes me smile.
Most of our kitties were rescues with the exception of 2 Maine Coons. We also lived in the desert with Coyotes so indoor was a must. I have too many cat stories to even start.
Thanks for the smiles, and remembrances of kitties we have had as fellow family members.

Anonymous said...

Tokyo, what a great story about your black cat.

We have the good fortune to have been adopted by several "walk-ins" over the years, but our current crop of 3 are all adopted from the shelter.

Our oldest one is probably about 12, and had a hard life as a feral before coming to the shelter. Even now, he is wary of everything and won't settle down unless everything is just so. I'm glad he has a place in out of the cold, with regular meals and trips to the vet.

How interesting to hear how many Junior Gorillas are also cat people.

I have seen cats on my last couple of trips to Disneyland. I imagine it would be a good place for them, no coyotes, and lots of little ones dropping food. Even so, they have to race the sweepers for the scraps. I'm sure there are mice and such in the shrubbery beyond the beaten paths.

Thank you for such a nice post. I love cats, and it's good to see this.


TokyoMagic! said...

Dr. Goat, I just realized something. Since the time I was four, I have only gone a total of 5 months (divided over different time periods), when I did not live with a cat in my home. Since most of the cats have chosen me, this is only coincidence, but every cat I have ever had has either been all black, all white, or black and white. I guess for that reason, I am particularly fond of those colors/patterns, but I would totally be open to any type or color of cat. It just isn't what I have been presented with, among the cats that have "found" me.

TokyoMagic! said...

Mike, that is horrible! Disney truly is evil, aren't they! When I worked at Knott's, they had an announcement in the employee newsletter, asking us to please spread the word among family, friends, and neighbors, to NOT drop off ducks or chickens at Knott's. I guess it used to be a popular thing, for people to buy their children baby chicks or ducklings, for Easter. Then when the birds became adults, they would drive over to Knott's Lagoon, and "release" them.

TokyoMagic! said...

JG, as I have mentioned, all of my cats have found their way to me. Fortunately, I have never had to go to a shelter. I think that would be a very difficult thing, to go there and see all the needy cats, and then not be able to take them all home.

I wonder how much mice catching the Knott's and Disneyland cats do now, since they no longer have to rely on them (or scraps) as a food source? I'm not sure when, but at some point both companies started putting feed stations out for the cats. It sounds like they are better cared for now, than they were in the past.

DrGoat said...

Black or so called Tuxedo kitties seem to comprise about 75% of all the cats I have known in my life. One of the most graceful, gentle, loving cats I've ever known was Flossie, our black kitty we had from 1999 till 2 years ago. It's been a privilege to have cats in our lives.

JG said...

Tokyo, we went to the shelter twice, my wife's sister worked at one in the next town and she tipped us to good cats to adopt. Breaks my heart to visit a shelter since I want them all. We had been several months without a cat, and the small god that directs the fate of cat owners did not send us a replacement for Patches who left us at age 14.

We adopted the little cat set aside for us, and then I had to have another one so he had a brother. Sadly Jessie (James) didn't live long, he had a condition that took him before his time. But his brother Frank (James) is still hanging tough. He is the former feral I mentioned earlier, going on 13 years this year. Frank now has two roommates, a sibling pair from the same shelter, and we have a watchful peace, most of the time, since they don't really all get along that well.

Frank is a brown tabby, beautiful cat, exactly like one we had when I was small, and also exactly like one my Mom had in her last years. I was sentimental about his looks, but we have had every color and pattern of cat imaginable over 60 plus years. The only time I didn't have a cat was during college when apartments would not allow them, and even then, I had my parent's cats.


TokyoMagic! said...

DrGoat, sounds like your Flossie lived to be 20 years old, or pretty close to that. Again, I have been lucky to have long-living cats, but I hate that they don't live even longer.

All three of my current cats, are "tuxedo" cats!

TokyoMagic! said...

JG, Up until 3 years ago, I have only ever had one cat at a time. I always wondered if my cats would tolerate bringing in another cat, but I never tried it. My cats would always get really worked up, even if they just saw another cat outside the window. That is also why I didn't bring my current three cats into the house, until my previous cat passed. I just did not want to do that to him in his senior years, after he was used to having the house all to himself, for 22 years.

Kathy! said...

TokyoMagic!, I love the cat photos and stories. I've seen quite a few cats in California Adventure, including some in the rocks around Taste Pilot's Grill (guess it's Smokejumpers Grill now) and the tortoiseshell you took a photo of here. She would often come over from the "woods" around Grizzly River if you said kitty kitty. My cousin's daughter was eating a soft pretzel once, and she dropped a piece, and the cat picked it up and ate it! She looks very similar to a cat we had so it was fun to spot her.

I remember a very friendly black cat at the French Market once, that let us pet it and rubbed on our legs. We'd also see cats sleeping and resting among the plants and rocks along the tram route, often black and white ones. I've never seen a Knott's cat, though I haven't visited there as often as Disneyland.

Thanks for the nice post, and thanks to Sue for telling us about it on GDB.

TokyoMagic! said...

Kathy! Wow, Francisco really does get around! That's nice to hear that there are other friendly and trusting cats, that are comfortable coming up to the guests. I thought Francisco just might be the anomaly. I only hope that the guests are all caring and friendly, in response back to those cats. I once saw a kid in Walt Disney World's Frontierland, who was trying to kick a crane (which was actually taller than he was). The kid's parents didn't seem to feel the need to stop the kid, or to take that opportunity to teach the kid about being kind to animals. So, because of guests like that, I do worry a little bit about the animals I see inside the parks.

I'm glad you enjoyed this post! And yes, THANKS to Sue for telling you and others about it. I missed commenting on GDB that day, so I didn't realize she had done that until you mentioned it!

Chuck said...

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your stories. Cat person here, although none at present. Ours passed a few months ago 15 years after adopting us, and we haven’t replaced him because we are afraid our dog (a rescued, fear-aggressive pit bull - never making that mistake again) will accidentally kill a kitten while playing with it.

Cats are in need of rescuing everywhere. On one of my overseas deployments, my roommate started feeding a stray, then took him to the vet to get him neutered and shots (we were at an installation that had permanent-party families as well as rotational personnel) and started giving him regular flea treatments. My roommate named him “Tiger.” We weren’t supposed to have pets in our quarters, which was a two-bedroom, former family dwelling, but Tiger somehow started making his way in through the back door and hanging out with us in the living room.

Despite all of the work my roomie had done on Tiger’s behalf, that cat preferred me. He would sit next to me on the couch, and I was the only one he would occasionally let anybody pet him. One day, he wandered upstairs and spent the day asleep on my bed. I felt a little bad about it, and I could tell my roomie was a bit jealous, but it’s not like you can force a cat to like you. When I left, my roommate was working his way through the bureaucracy, which was set up to deny deployment personnel from bringing animals home, to try to get permission to bring the cat back to the States. I never heard how that story turned out, but at 60, that guy was older than anyone else there, and he was a consummate schmoozer, able to get things done outside the normal channels, so I am pretty confident there was a happy ending.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, what a great cat story. Thanks for sharing it with us. I do hope that Tiger was allowed to go home with your roommate!

And I'm so sorry to hear about your cat's passing. For me, the passing of a pet is included on the list, of one of the most difficult things to have to deal with in life.

Stefano said...

Purrrr ... I like your cat story, TM! And all the comments here, puts me in mind of "The Three Lives of Thomasina", the sort of gently charming feline flick not even Disney can manage any more.

There is that cat story of early Sleeping Beauty Castle (just how did they get in there?), and the other tales that cats were deliberately introduced into the park to keep the rodent population down. For the company founded on a mouse!

I have been adopted by several cats over the years, though I didn't let them "stay overnight"; it seems that hardy cats with one paw in the feral world live above the average lifespan, 20 years or more.

I had several Disneyland cat sightings in the back area of the Submarines and Autopia, as seen from the train. At Knott's before opening, near the original entrance, we paid our respects to the little red devil, and almost always saw a cat slip into the dense cactus cluster at the base of the volcano, back from the night's prowl.

TokyoMagic! said...

Stefano, I just saw "The Three Lives of Thomasina" a few years ago, for the very first time. Up to that point, I had avoided it, because I thought it might be too sad. I really liked it, and it wasn't as sad as I thought it might be. That is "classic" Disney at it's best. And you are right, Disney isn't capable of anything like that today.

I remember reading about that Sleeping Beauty Castle cat story. I think the story even goes that when the designers went inside to "size up" the space for a walk-thru attraction, their white pants "turned black" as they were covered with fleas. Yikes!

Now I'm wondering if there were cats living inside the volcano at Knott's! It's possible!

Irene said...

Kind of late to the cat party here :) Chiming in to say that there is currently a cat hanging out at the Wagon Camp. He is rather large, gorgeous and all gray. Rather friendly and he likes to greet people entering from the North side for the Krazy Kirk show. He also stays around for the show, sometimes sleeping through it! His name is Billy (haha) and has become a sort of mascot for the band. I see photos people are taking of him all the time on Facebook. Also that gray and white (or is it black and white) cat is still hanging around the museum. I have not seen him, only recently posted photos.

TokyoMagic! said...

Irene, thanks for those additional Knott's cat reports! I love hearing that Krazy Kirk and his gang have a mascot! And that is funny about the name, too! I didn't mention it, but the pic of that gray and white cat, near the Western Trails Museum, was taken in 2013. I'm so glad to hear that he is still around, today!

K. Martinez said...

I love all these cat stories your readers have shared here on your blog. My favorite stories are the ones related to rescuing stray cats. Always so heartwarming to know these sweet creatures find homes.

Anyway, I enjoyed both the article and the reader comments. Except for the duck killings. You always do wonderful posts. Thanks again.

K. Martinez said...

Forgot to mention that I love "The Three Lives of Thomasina". One of my favorites of the Walt Disney era live-action films.

Thanks again, TM!

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, thank you so much! I have a huge soft spot for cats who need rescuing. Every cat I have ever had, has been a rescued "stray."

As I mentioned to Stefano, I had avoided "The Three Lives of Thomasina," out of fear that it would be too sad. But a very dear friend gave me the film on DVD, so I finally watched it, and I loved it! :-)