Saturday, January 28, 2012

Send in the cats

I was idly wondering whether any other disease outbreaks had been solved by airlifting cats when I came across this strangely parallel story from Borneo - at of course.

The story is that in 1959 DDT was being sprayed to reduce malaria in Borneo. This caused the death of cats in some areas where DDT was sprayed indoors. This then led to local outbreaks of bubonic plague. A “cat drop” occurred to replenish the local cat population and solve the bubonic plague problem by having them kill the booming rat population.

The website examines the truth behind this tale and digs up an actual Operations Record Book from the Royal Air Force which did indeed carry out at least one cat drop in a remote region. In this case twenty cats were dropped in special baskets. The record book notes that a reply was received saying “all cats safe and much appreciated.”

Actually if you look at the log book it says something much better:

That question mark is intriguing. Is there a chance that the locals were mystified as to why the RAF had just dropped a load of cats on them?

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