Cats With Jobs

Meet Carlow The Firehouse Cat (…and other Cats with Jobs!)

Around the world, there are cats earning their keep. Some are mousers, like Princess, a black cat who works at Mill Ridge Farm’s stables. Some are circus performers, like Tuna and her furry friends in The Amazing Acro-Cats. And some are even politicians, like Mayor Stubbs, an orange tabby who holds office in Talkeetna, Alaska.

Enjoy this excerpt from Cats on the Job: 50 Fabulous Felines Who Purr, Mouse, and Even Sing for Their Supper, and meet Carlow the Firehouse Cat:

Photos: Jessica Mikel-Bertolini

Photos: Jessica Mikel-Bertolini

Many folks are familiar with the concept of a firehouse dog, most often in the form of a Dalmatian. But at a firehouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, an orange-and-white cat named Carlow takes his job as firehouse cat very seriously.

In the spring of 2011, the firefighters of Engine 22 Ladder 13 responded to a call in the Bronx and encountered an abandoned car that seemed to be meowing. They found a tiny, dirty kitten stuck in one of the tires, brought him back to the station, cleaned him up, and named him Carlow after a local bar where they liked to hang out.

According to Jessica Mikel, who is married to a firefighter in the company, Carlow jumped into his job from the first day, attacking the station’s serious rodent problem paws-first. Once his scent permeated the firehouse, a mouse sighting became a rare thing, resulting in a light workload for the cat, alter- ing his job description. “Today, his primary responsibilities are to scare off neighborhood dogs looking for a treat and to keep the probies — newly hired firefighters on probation — in line, showing everyone that he is boss,” said Mikel.

Photos: Jessica Mikel-Bertolini

Photos: Jessica Mikel-Bertolini

The cat also spends time posing for the many photos that make up his Instagram account, @carlow_ firecat, which Mikel helps him run; some of his most popular photos show him snoozing in unusual places on a fire truck. “Carlow is pretty talented in finding comfort in the most peculiar spots,” said Mikel. “He makes a tire look cozy.”

Carlow actually isn’t the first feline firefighter at the station: A cat named Murray lived at the station for fourteen years before he passed on to that great lit- ter box in the sky in 2005. Afterward, the human staff opted for a dog, but soon decided to adopt another cat when the canine staffer wasn’t as friendly with the public as Murray had been. Besides, most dogs are not known for their superb rodent-catching skills.

Firehouse Cat 1

Photos: Jessica Mikel-Bertolini

Carlow is such a valued member of the squad that some firefighters even come into the station to visit him on their days off. He also enjoys an international fanbase because of Instagram. Mikel said that people often ask if the firefighters move him off the trucks when they go on a run because they’re worried he’ll get hurt, but she alleviates their concerns. “Carlow is a very smart kitty,” she said. “Before every run, loud tones go off indicating to the guys that it’s time to gear up. Carlow knows that these tones mean it’s time for him to move to the back of the house, where he holds down the fort until the guys return.”


COTJ coverIn Cats on the Job: 50 Fabulous Felines Who Purr, Mouse and Even Sing for Their Supper, a book by Lisa Rogak, we meet Carlow and other whiskered workers who keep their human colleagues company from 9 to 5 – with the occasional break for a nap or a belly rub – and make every day at the office better.

Read about Wizzo, the Military Working Cat, Popeye the Nurse Cat, Millie the Security Guard Cat, and lots more. What exactly does a Church Cat do? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Cats on the Job is available in paperback or on Kindle through

Lisa Rogak is the author of over 40 books on a variety of subjects, including dogs, cats, and other critters. She lives in New Hampshire. Find out more at

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