For A Hot Second, Belgium Relied On Cats To Deliver The Mail

Cats can excel at all kinds of important jobs. They make for great mouse hunters, keyboard warmers (whether you want them to or not), pusher-overs of glasses too close to the table's edge … But of all the other positions in the world, who in their right mind would think that our fickle feline overlords would excel at a job of which the motto is: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." 

Cats and post offices have had a long working relationship. These purring bureaucats often have been put on the public payroll to pounce on perfidious rodents and protect all that government cheese. But in 1879, the city of Liege in the newly founded state of Belgium decided to deepen this relationship between the common enemies of dogs. The Liegeois formed the Belgian Society for the Elevation of the Domestic Cat to explore their talents and give them a job worthy of their "strong and subtle intellect." More specifically, to provide them with a job utilizing their uncanny ability to manifest in your kitchen whenever they hear a can opener. 

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As such, the society reckoned that cats could easily do the job of carrier pigeons, homing their way to their milk saucers and (incidentally) delivering letters and other small messages. The experiment was as simple as it was pointless. 37 local house cats were promoted to the post of postal cat and given small waterproof postbags attached to their collars. They were then taken roughly 20 miles from home and were told to find their way back through the Walloon wasteland to deliver the mail like so many tiny Kevin Costners

"Hello, I would like to make an HR complaint? I'm being eaten by one of my colleagues." 
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The results were ... mixed. While one cat managed to complete its mono-route in under five hours, the other intrepid couriers took their sweet time, about 24 hours, before managing/choosing to return home. Sadly, this is where the cat pilot program ended, and the people of Liege never spoke of it again. Probably for the best, though. These days, the post mostly delivers packages anyway, and everyone knows you should trust a cat around a cardboard box.

For more catty tangents, do follow Cedric on Twitter

Top Image: Pxfuel, Liam Truong/Unsplash

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