The Real Reason Disney Parks Have Feral Cats (and Other Wild Animals You Might See at the Happiest Place on Earth)

Animatronic animals aren’t the only “furry” friends who get to enjoy Disneyland and Disney World. In fact, Disney parks are home to a variety of different species. Including, an abundance of feral cats that have free range of Main Street, Tomorrowland, and all other areas of the parks.

Want to know why Disney keeps these feral felines around? We share the real reason for the cats of Disneyland (page 7), plus the terrifying creatures that call Walt Disney World home (page 8) and other types of wild animals that can be found at the happiest place on Earth, next.

1. They have been there since Disneyland first opened

Disneyland

They’ve been there since the beginning. | Disney

Legend has it, just after Disneyland opened, Walt and some Imagineers took a look inside Sleeping Beauty’s Castle to see what kind of attraction they could make out of it. Once inside, they were greeted by a number of feral cats.

Disney officials knew they couldn’t just leave the cats there (or worse: get rid of them) without proper care and purpose, so they devised a plan (page 7).

Next: There are a lot more than you think.

2. There are about 100 of them

Disneyland cat

They roam around hunting mice. | MB298/Wikimedia Commons

While guests may only spot a couple of feral cats roaming around the happiest place on Earth, there are actually about 100 of them.

Next: How Disney manages the number of Disneyland cats.

3. Disney spays and neuters them

Cat of Disneyland

If ‘accidents’ happen the kittens are adopted to park employees. | Sam Howzit/Wikimedia Commons

To keep from adding more cats to their pack, Disney has a special group of cast members dedicated to the spaying and neutering. They also tend to various medical needs, including vaccinations.

Next: The real reason you don’t see cast members feeding the cats of Disneyland.

4. They have secret feeding areas

A cat eats cat food in a backyard on a fall day

The cats are fed more than just what they hunt. | Jeremy_Hogan/iStock/Getty Images

Don’t worry, Disney takes excellent care of its cats. In fact, they have various hidden feeding areas and shelters throughout the park that the feral cats can enjoy.

Next: They like to hide in these three places.

5. They come out and play at night

The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration

They’re mostly nocturnal. | Mark Ashman/Disney Parks via Getty Images

Unfortunately for cat-lovers, the best time to spot a Disneyland cat is after hours, since cats are nocturnal. That said, many guests have been able to spot some cats on the cliffs of Big Thunder, near Main Street Station, and White Water Snacks during the day.

Next: Donald Trump has this 1 thing in common with the cats of Disneyland.

6. They use Twitter … sort of

Cats of Disneyland tweet

They have a fairly large following. | Cats of Disneyland via Twitter

What does Donald Trump and the cats of Disneyland have in common? They love to tweet! That’s right, the cats of Disneyland have a large online following and love to share funny thoughts and Disneyland cat sightings with fans.

Although Disney doesn’t run (or endorse) the account, we appreciate their online presence and get a kick out of their banter.

Next: The real reason Disneyland has feral cats.

7. They’re used as pest control

Cat disneyland hotel

They’re there for pest control. | Cats of Disney/chasingwhiterabbitsforfun via Instagram

All jokes aside, the cats of Disneyland are considered cast members and have serve a great purpose. The real reason Disney keeps these feral cats around is to help with pest control. Rather than set up traps or poison, they prefer to keep things old fashion — and non-toxic — by employing cats to catch mice, rats, and other small critters. Watch out, Mickey Mouse!

Next: We can’t believe what kind of animal Disney World uses for pest control.

8. Snakes

Black Racer snake

Another animal used as pest control. | Shackleford-Photography/iStock/Getty Images

Pest control at Walt Disney World looks a bit different — okay, a lot different. Instead of furry feral cats, Disney World casually deploys snakes to take care of its rats and other rodents. That said, the park ensures only non-poisonous snakes — such as, Black Racers — are allowed on the premises.

Next: These critters tend to Disney World’s gardens.

9. Ladybugs and other insects

Ladybug on a leaf

They keep the pests away without chemicals. | David McNew/Getty Images

It really is a bug’s life at Disney World! With millions of plants, flowers, and shrubs, the park needs help protecting the plants from pests and pesticides don’t always cut it. That’s where the ladybugs come in. To control things like mites, whiteflies, thrips, and other plant-eating insects, the park releases ladybugs into its planters.

In addition to ladybugs, Disney World also utilizes the help of other insects — such as big-eyed bugs and minute pirate bugs — to help with pests like caterpillars and other bug species that might destroy the gardens.

Next: These animals are the reason Disney World doesn’t have a mosquito problem.

10. Chickens

A flock of chickens roam freely

They’re used to control mosquitos.  | FiledIMAGE/iStock/Getty Images

Contrary to what you might think, mosquitos aren’t a problem for Walt Disney World. No, it’s not because the parks have an invisible shield protecting them from the summer pests — it’s because the parks have chickens! Like cats and snakes, chickens can be used as pest control to keep mosquitos at bay.

Next: You can take a tour of this animal’s habitat.

11. Lions

Lion disney

They’re a big draw at the Animal Kingdom. | Disney

While these giant cats aren’t exactly used as pest control (could you imagine?), they are still a necessary addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. After all, what kind of animal kingdom would it be without its kings and queens?
While on board the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Animal Kingdom, guests can take a tour of the lions’ habitat and catch a glimpse of the gorgeous felines.

Next: These animals came from the White House.

12. Turkeys

President Obama Pardons National Thanksgiving Turkey At Annual Ceremony with Sasha and Malia

After being pardoned, they get a trip to Disney. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Ever wonder what happens to the president’s pardoned turkeys after Thanksgiving? They take an all-expense paid for vacation to Disneyland and Walt Disney World (though, they don’t have a say in what park they go to).

Next: You can only see these animals once a year.

13. Reindeer

Reindeer disney

They add a magical touch to Christmas time. | Disney Parks via Youtube

Want to meet Santa’s reindeer in real life? Once a year — during Christmas time, of course — Disneyland hosts the magical guests until their Christmas Eve departure.

Next: Next time you’re at Disney World, see if you can spot these beauties in the flowers.

14. Butterflies

Butterfly

The butterflies are attracted there by special gardens. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Get this: Disney World is home to nearly 20,000 butterfly species. And, you don’t have to go anywhere special to view these fluttering beauties. Many of the parks’ butterflies can be found in the planters, fueling up on flower nectar.

Fun fact: While the butterflies are free to flutter throughout any Disney garden, the parks also have specific gardens that are meant to attract them!

Next: Contrary to popular belief, these majestic creatures have a great life at Disneyland.

15. Horses

Horse-drawn streetcar at Disneyland

They also have horses that are specially taken care of. | MichaelGordon1/iStock/Getty Images

In addition to exotic animals, feral cakes, and — lest we forget — snakes, Disney parks are also home to horses! Some of them pull carriages, and others can be ridden by guests! But, don’t worry, Disney treats its working horses with great care.

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