This week, we said goodbye to our working cat, Diego. For those unfamiliar with working cats, they are participants in the SPCA-sponsored Cats on the Job program, which places feral and under-socialized cats into businesses and residences to provide ongoing companionship and rodent control.
To many in the SOMArts family, Diego was more than a cat. He embodied the potential of unconventional solutions that is at the beating heart of all things SOMArts. When Diego arrived, SOMArts had a huge outdoor rodent problem and little hope of solving it. As one of the only green spaces in Western SoMa, the South of Market Cultural Center’s community garden naturally attracted rats. The Cats on the Job program seemed outlandish but we had tried everything else and had nothing to lose.
Diego’s first few months at SOMArts were a test of our faith and patience—we weren’t sure if the program would work or if the cats would connect with their new home. A local artist designed shelters for them and we voted on names, settling on Diego and Frida. When the cats were set free, Frida left but Diego stuck around. Within days, we had our first “victim” and within months the rats had disappeared.
Like many people who make meaningful contributions to SOMArts, Diego was a behind-the-scenes cat, but within the last six months he came out of his shell a little and we saw him in the garden almost every day. He passed due to a respiratory infection.
Even though Diego is no longer with us, he made a big difference and will not be forgotten. We plan to continue Diego’s legacy by giving a new working cat a home. If you would like to make a donation to support the care and feeding of working cats at SOMArts you can do so here. Donations of $25 or more will be recognized on our e-wall of thanks.