Post Office Cats
The mail system as we know it owes some of its success to a long line of post office cats. These honored coworkers have been employed by post offices around the world for over a century. How did these special cats land a job with the post office?
In fact, they created the position for themselves. In 1868, the Money Order Office in London put in a formal request to the Secretary of the Post Office to employ three cats. Their weekly allowance of one shilling went toward food for all three cats. This arrangement was dependent on the new employees’ ability to lower the mouse population- a job they proved born to do!
The outstanding performance of these brave mousers led to the formal creation of The Cat System, which began hiring at various branches across England. The standard weekly wage was between six and seven pence per-cat, which was barely enough to maintain their morale. Branch managers began to demand wage increases on behalf of the post office cats in order to fairly compensate them with food and healthcare.
An official request from 1912 to employ a Post Office Cat.
Enter Tibs the Great
Minnie the cat served a long and successful career as a mouser at the Post Office Headquarters Building in London. Following her death in 1950, the position was passed on to her son, a large 23-pound Tabby cat called Tibs. Earning a certain celebrity status and the title “Tibs the Great”, he was celebrated for outstanding service up until his death in 1964. Sadly, around the same time that Tibs retired, pesticides became widely available which eliminated the need for post office cats on the official payroll.
Tibs is remembered with an impressive legacy. During his 14 diligent years of service as the Official Post Office Headquarters Cat, he kept the building free of mice and raised the standard for the treatment of great mouse-control cats everywhere.
The Royal Mail is set to unveil an interactive Postal Museum in mid-2017. The museum will feature an exhibit honoring the storied post office cats of London.
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