End of An Era: Coal Mine Cats Given New Homes

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Leia is one of the last working coal mine cats. Leia and a friend have been placed in a new home on a Yorkshire farm after a coal mine in North Yorkshire was closed. (Screengrab: Mirror/Cats Protection League)

Leia the colliery cat and her three friends are part of a long tradition of working cats who kept Yorkshire’s mines free of rats and mice. But as the pits began to close, their future looked bleak.

Last month, the UK’s last deep coal pit closed down in Beal, North Yorkshire, and the miners who looked after the four cats decided they had to find a new home for the resident moggies, according to a story in the UK’s Mirror. Florence, Betty, Leia and Sola were more than just rat catchers, they were valued coworkers as well and were “spoilt by miners over the years,” according to the sentimental report in the Mirror.

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Time to move on. (Picture: Mirror/Cats Protection League)

Feral and semi-feral cats were a fixture at many mines where they were originally “drafted in” to keep pony stables clear of rats and mice. The miners fed the cats and weren’t about to leave them on their own. So they reached out to James Hodgkison of the Cat Protection’s Adoption Centre in York. Hodgkison told the Mirror that the charity received a call in December from a former miner who was concerned about the welfare of the colliery cats. And a plan was put in motion to find new homes for the felines on local farms.

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Betty was taken in by Karen Scholey at her family’s farm near Green Hammerton, Yorkshire, along with Florence. (Screengrab: Mirror News )

To help them adapt, the Leia and the others were re-homed in pairs on two farms where their hunting skills would be appreciated. The cats were the last of a class of working animals at mines that also relied on pit ponies and canary birds. The colliery cats first job was to keep pony stables clear of mice and rats. Their departure was appropriately lauded as “the end of an era.”

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