Photographs by Yao Jianfeng
Liu Jianguo works for a Panjin City rice company known throughout Liaoning Province for high quality and great taste. However, his position is nothing like most of the employees there ¨C he’s not involved with unloading, stock checking, or storage. His position is a highly respected one there. He is the cat commander.
Among the bags at the company’s grain depot is a large amount of organic Panjin rice. Since the dangers of rat poison make it prohibited in such close proximity to so much food, the company innovated with tradition: they brought in cats to eliminate the annoying rodents. Liu himself gathered the special squad consisting of nearly 100 cats. Over the past few years, he has trained his troops into scouts, patrolmen, and soldiers, inspiring his nickname,”commander.”
Cats are generally independent and alert, which makes training adults extremely difficult, especially in a busy grain depot full of people and vehicles. So, Liu began with kittens. He spent a lot of time with them, played with them, and trained them to catch rats. He bathed them when dirty and treated them when ill. Gradually, the cats grew closer to their caretaker, and soon they responded to his whistles.
To better accommodate Liu’s soldiers, the company built cat barracks and divided the felines into three companies. Thanks to the efforts of Liu and his kitties, rats are no where to be found at the grain depot.??