LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Dogs work. Cats sleep, purr and preen. At least that is what dog people would have you believe. Author Lisa Rogak set out to discover what cats really spend their time doing. The result is her book called "Cats on the Job."
She found that dogs do what you want, but cats do what they want. Dogs will follow your job description, cats create their own. That's why so many cat jobs are one-of-a-kind. Basically, with dogs, you get the help you wanted. With cats, you get help you didn't know you wanted.
After all, a lot of people swear the Internet was saved when memes came along, celebrating cats for being catlike — Grumpy Cat's frown (8.1 million Facebook followers) or Nora's piano-playing prowess.
Welcome cats greet you if they are in the mood, she said. "That's why some people are afraid of cats. They don't suck up to people like a lot of dogs will do."
Rogak's first chapter tells the story of Sable, a crossing guard cat from West Richland, Washington. Sable showed up one day in 2011, watched crossing guard Monti Franckowiak for a while, then what Franckowiak did on one side of the street, Sable did on the other.
Sable was there twice a day, every day. The school presented him with an official orange safety vest. If it was snowing, the cat would watch from the top of a snowpile. And if a student should fall, he would be right there to lick away the tears, Franckowiak said.
Rogak said she laughed all the way through her research. "It was very therapeutic."
She even went to a book signing with one of the cats she profiled, Boswell the Fifth, who lives in Boswell's Books in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. (She's the fifth cat named Boswell to hold court at the store over the years.)
But when it came to signing books, Boswell wanted none of it. So the store got a signature stamp in her name while she curled up in the front window or recycle bin.
When Rogak visited Rusty, CEO of Rusty's Heirloom Tomatoes, in Dunbarton, New Hampshire, she met owner Ken Cook and got a tour from Rusty. Then Rusty bowed out for a cat nap.
In her introduction, Rogak says a lot of cat-lovers believe the best job for a cat is CMO — Chief Mousing Officer.
Mousing was Carlow's first job when the tabby with an orange moustache first took up residence at a New York firehouse. Firefighters on Engine 22, Ladder 13, were on a call in the spring of 2011 when they found the kitten in a car tire, said Jessica Mikel-Bertolini, whose husband, Thomas Bertolini, is one of the cat's buddies at the station on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
They took him to the firehouse, named him for a nearby bar and put him to work. At first they found a lot of dead mice. Now the mice are long gone and Carlow's got a new job as an up-and-comer on Instagram: Carlow FDNY Cat, with over 25,000 followers. The photos show off his many sleeping perches on the firetruck and battalion chief's SUV, said Mikel-Bertolini, but she also posts pictures of other cats sent in by fans, some of them also firehouse residents.
Carlow went missing about a month after he arrived. Signs were posted, neighbours joined the hunt, the media got involved and people called offering help. He was found on a nearby street.
Firefighters spent a few weeks then training Carlow to make sure he didn't leave the firehouse again. When the alarm sounds now, he heads to the back of the building and waits for his crew's return.
Rogak's next book is about Jan Louch and the cats she cared for at the library where she works. Rogak met them while researching "Cats on the Job," but they were so special, they deserved their own book. It's due out next spring: "The True Tails of Baker and Taylor: The Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town ... and the World."
"Time and time again," said Rogak, "people said having a cat in the library or workplace softened the work environment, not only for employees, but for customers."