As with most things you've seen and heard online, the fascinating statement that Disneyland nurtures a colony of 200 cats to rid its premises of rodents is only loosely true. Very loosely. The best part of this story is that there are many cats who ironically set up shop in the California home of the world's most famous mouse. They seem to be official residents now, but most of the urban legends surrounding them are just that—legends. Disneyland itself is mysteriously quiet on the subject, and even park employees (called Cast Members) are famously cagey on the subject, so the world may never know the full scoop, but here's what we do know after sifting through the rumors and stories to find the facts about Disneyland's cats.
There are some cats living at Disneyland.
The only thing that could make the happiest place on Earth any better is a family of furry felines onsite, and Disneyland does actually have one. Keep in mind this is the smaller California park, not the behemoth Florida complex, though some random strays have been spotted and snapped at Disney World and even Tokyo Disney. Those appear to be merely strays who are not official residents of the parks, though, and much smaller in number than the cat crowd at Disneyland. While some tweets and subsequent memes have claimed that there are 200 feral cats roaming Disneyland, this is unfounded information that seems to be seriously inflated. Though the park doesn't release a population count and likely doesn't know exactly, all signs point to at least a couple dozen cats and not likely many more.
They were likely the first royal residents of Disneyland.
While the origin of Disneyland's resident cats isn't officially documented, at least not publicly, the prevailing belief is that feral cats were first discovered living at Sleeping Beauty Castle when Walt Disney decided to transform it from a mere prop to an attraction that guests could visit and interact within 1957. This first batch of kitties was allegedly adopted out to Cast Members, but the story continues that strays continued to hunker down on the park's grounds, and Disneyland ultimately decided to work with them rather than against them, potentially as mousers. Again, there's no solid confirmation that the details of these stories are accurate. Still, it has yet to be disputed by the park, the company, or even by journalists or authors writing about the park's behind-the-scenes life.
How much care they receive today is unclear.
One thing is certain: Disneyland's cats are fed by Cast Members. Popular fansite Cats of Disneyland has identified a few of these feeding zones and notes them as ideal locations to spot some of these semi-elusive cats. This site is not affiliated with Disney, and while the creator has been interviewed repeatedly as interest in the park's cats has grown, much of what is reported here is legend and entertainment, not fact. It's still plenty of fun, and Cats of Disneyland also runs popular social media accounts featuring fan photos of the cats they've encountered during their visits. Other reported benefits reaped by Disneyland's cats are medical treatment when necessary and spaying/neutering services. Exactly how the population persists for decades if they're all "fixed" is a curious question, but it's possible that not all of the park's cats are easily caught or even known, and since cats can become pregnant at just four months old, it's not inconceivable for them to . . . conceive . . . a new generation before the park even knows they exist.
They're probably not mousing much.Whether or not they were initially kept around to affect the rodent population at the park, it's unlikely they're doing so to any substantial degree today. Though they're still on the more aloof side, and Disney definitely does not want you to feed or interact with them when spotted, they're somewhat domesticated at this point, fed regularly as they are. And while domestic cats still love a good hunt, which is why they should all have toys and quality cat furniture that inspire exercise and adventure, most cats are going to opt for the ease of provided meals rather than source their own snacks regularly enough to make a dent on local rodent populations. Disney's unwillingness to discuss the cats, other than acknowledging their existence, does make one wonder if they just don't want to go on record talking about mouse murder, so the cats may be actually providing this service to some degree, but it's unlikely they continue to be cared for specifically for this reason. Still, exaggerated headlines are great for clicks. Even celebrities like Ryan Gosling (a former Mouseketeer himself) have helped perpetuate the notion of a killer cat army living in Disneyland barracks, so as long as Disney continues to enshroud its cute cats in secrecy, the myths and legends are likely to grow more fantastic over time.