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North Vancouver cat takes city’s rat problem into his own paws

With no known history of mousing, Leon has culled at least 20 rats since news broke about an infestation in North Van's Victoria Park
Leon the tabby cat has killed at least 20 rats since a story about the Victoria Park infestation ran in the North Shore News. Interestingly, one Leon caught but didn’t kill appeared to be a domestic hooded rat. | Lyndsay Wrightson

Look what the cat dragged in.

Twenty dead rats – gifts from Leon, the 13-year-old North Vancouver tabby that’s taking the Victoria Park pest problem into his own paws.

Need more evidence that cats are even smarter than we give them credit? With no known history of mousing, Leon brought home his first catch just after a story about the infestation ran in the North Shore News.

Did Leon read the article?

“I think he did,” chuckles owner Lyndsay Wrightson, who lives just a few blocks from the park. “I’ve been telling him that he needs to pick up some duties around the house, because he’s got to pay rent. I think he started to think: ‘Hmm, maybe I should do some work around here.’”

Right after the newspaper story, Leon started presenting dead rats to Wrightson, 15 rats in 15 days. Not bad for an arthritic senior. After a successful hunt, Leon is visibly proud but exhausted, and will spend the rest of the day lazing around and taking cat naps, Wrightson said.

Alarmed by Leon’s sudden killer instinct, she and her husband started keeping him inside. Leon didn’t like that, protesting the lockdown by doing his business outside the litter box.

Then, they tried to walk him on a leash. Leon hated that too. “A cat in harness catches no rats,” he might have meowed.

“So I let him out. And we were like, ‘OK, we’ll see what happens.’ Maybe he’ll forget,” she said. “But no, after a day or two, he came back with another rat.”

Since his second coming, Leon has brought back six more rats, one of them alive. Interestingly, the one Leon spared appeared to be a domestic, hooded rat – white with brown spots. The spooked rodent ran under Wrightson’s bed before scurrying out the front door.

“He decided not to kill it. He thought this one deserved to escape,” Wrightson said. “A catch-and-release I guess.”

Far from a mindless killing machine, Leon is evidently a discerning professional.

“I think North Vancouver should hire him as pest control,” Wrightson said.

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